City’s historic images get a psychedelic make-over in Grassmarket’s free open-air art exhibition

A century of Edinburgh’s colourful history as never seen before

The Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District (BID) has teamed up with Capital Collections to launch a free open-air, walking art exhibition in the Greater Grassmarket area from 4th – 30th September.

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15 pieces of artwork which span a century of Grassmarket history will be displayed throughout 22 locations in the area. The artwork dates from 1850-1950 and combines rare old photos of the Grassmarket and Old Town from the collections of Edinburgh’s libraries with a twist of psychedelic colour and vibrancy. Highlights include the hokeypokey man, a homage to the Italian ice cream sellers who lived and worked in the Grassmarket in the 1900s, and a ventriloquist performing in the Grassmarket’s public space. Visitors can access a map on the Greater Grassmarket BID’s website to find out the exact location and more background to each piece of artwork. The first fifty visitors can also collect a series of FREE postcards of each piece from specific Grassmarket retailers.

Funded by local businesses and the City of Edinburgh Council, this open-air exhibition is part of the Greater Grassmarket BID’s aim of attracting visitors to the area, encouraging them to explore its fascinating history and enjoy the retail and hospitality on offer.

Norrie Stewart, Grassmarket BID Project Manager, says: ’The artwork shines a 21st century light on these historic images of the Grassmarket and Old Town. Using the psychedelic treatment in this way presents a unique and modern alternative view of this ancient area. We invite visitors and locals alike to stroll around the Grassmarket and enjoy the startling contrasts between the scenes shown on the artwork, and the locations as they are now. It’s something a bit different and exciting.’

Cllr Alison Dickie, Vice Convener for Education, Children and Families for City of Edinburgh Council  said; ‘It’s really exciting to see these special photos from our Capital Collections being shown in such an innovative way through this open-air art gallery in the Greater Grassmarket. As one of the oldest parts of Edinburgh, the Grassmarket is steeped in history and provides an excellent location to offer visitors a unique glimpse of the city’s history in a way they’ve never seen it before!’

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Johnny Dodds, creative artist for GG BID, says: ‘It has been a lot of fun working with these historic images to create such exciting new artwork for this exhibition. The Old Town has always been a thriving place, bursting with life and colour and I hope these works help to draw attention to that colourful past.’

For more information and the artwork location map of images visit www.greatergrassmarket.co.uk/art.

The historic psychedelic artwork is available to purchase from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the original photographs are available to purchase from Capital Collections www.capitalcollections.org.uk.