Former rubber factory to reopen as artists’ hub

A former rubber factory in the heart of Edinburgh will reopen as an artists’ hub this weekend.

The North British Rubber Factory building in Fountainbridge has undergone a multimillion-pound transformation to become the new home of Edinburgh Printmakers.

The Castle Mills complex will open its doors on Saturday, boasting a print studio, learning space, archive, artist accommodation, art galleries, a shop and cafe.

Edinburgh Printmakers chief executive Shan Edwards said: “As an arts organisation, breathing new life into an industrial building and making it accessible and welcoming to the public is part of our vision for the future.

“This former hub of industry and innovation will maintain those roots now as a creative hotspot in Edinburgh.

“As one of the largest print studios in Europe, Edinburgh Printmakers will be an international destination for artists and enthusiasts alike.”

The former factory employed more than 3,000 people at its peak, producing the first Hunter Wellington boot, tyres, golf balls, hot water bottles and other products.

Rubber production ceased in 1969 and, following its use by Scottish & Newcastle Brewery, the Grade C-listed, council-owned building has lain empty since 2004.

The opening exhibition, The Politics Of Heritage vs The Heritage Of Politics, sees German-born artist Thomas Kilpper present a series of overlapping prints on the floor, back wall and ceiling.

Donald Wilson, culture and communities convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, said of the new hub: “I’m sure it will provide huge social and economic benefits for the local community and greatly enhance Fountainbridge’s cultural offering.

“The project has long had great support from the council, which has worked hard to help Edinburgh Printmakers take this building forward to regenerate the area.

“This has involved us providing the land and helping Printmakers secure necessary support from the Scottish Government. I’m delighted to see this partnership reach the next stage with news of the very first exhibition.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund, Creative Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and a number of trusts and foundations also backed the fundraising campaign.

To mark the opening, a series of free tours will take place at the weekend between 10am and 5pm.

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