In the heart of the Old Town – under the watchful eye of the lofty sandstone buildings of the North Bridge and beside the bustling Waverley Train Station – lies one of Edinburgh's foremost exhibition spaces.
Since its debut in 1974, The Fruitmarket Gallery has championed contemporary art in the capital and offered support and encouragement to local and international artists, whether they be up-and-coming talents or Turner Prize winners.
At The Fruitmarket Gallery, their program of events is full and their scope wide. So whenever you visit, you can be sure there will be a buzz of creativity in the air.
The exhibition space at The Fruitmarket Gallery — Photo courtesy of The Fruitmarket Gallery
The exhibition space is carved from the shell of a fruitmarket that was constructed in 1938 to serve the capital. As the building was being threatened with demolition in the '70s, the Scottish Arts Council decided to step in and come to the rescue, recognizing its potential.
Richard Murphy Architects was given the task of transforming the dilapidated market into an exhibition space worthy of some of the world's best contemporary artists, and their design won them a host of awards.
A section of the old stonework was entirely removed to create a glass-fronted entrance colonnade connecting the outside of the gallery with the bookshop and cafe, dissolving the separation between interior and exterior and inviting passersby to wander in and explore.
A wide staircase connects the two floors and allows natural light from above to flood the gallery. The roof was raised and extended to soar above the stone and glass, granting more space for the installations.
The exhibition space is masterfully adaptable, and it's played host to international artists such as Lucy Skaer and Fred Tomaselli, International Golden Lion award winner Cai Guo-Qiang and Turner Prize-winning Martin Creed.
The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh — Photo courtesy of The Fruitmarket Gallery
Their regular program of workshops and lectures, often run by skilled contemporary artists, invites everyone to get involved and indulge their creative side. Spots can be limited, so it's best to keep an eye on the calendar of upcoming events.
For younger artists, there's the delightfully titled "Fresh Fruit." Run by and for artists between the ages of 16 and 25, Fresh Fruit meet every Friday afternoon. This workshop is free, and some funding for transportation is available.
The well-stocked bookshop focuses on the art, architecture, design and photography books and magazines. The Fruitmarket publishes their own titles to accompany each exhibition and stocks many limited edition prints and titles.
There's also an excellent children's book section, which will delight any budding artist.
Delicious cakes in the cafe of The Fruitmarket Gallery — Photo courtesy of The Fruitmarket Gallery
The cafe, run by Glenfinlas Ltd, offers a delicious range of light snacks as well as more substantial meals. Seasonal produce is locally sourced, and the eclectic menu has something to tempt every palate.
Their range of home-baked cakes and pastries will challenge even the most determined calorie-counter, but thankfully they also have a great range of deli sandwiches and rolls and some very good salads.
Whether you're looking to get creative, pass a few hours enjoying contemporary art, find the perfect present for an artistically minded friend or simply enjoy good food in a relaxed and welcoming environment, The Fruitmarket Gallery is a gem just waiting to be discovered.