Artistic Portraits

The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) reveals its 2017 International Festival Portraits series: a collection of intimately filmed portraits of six celebrated artists talking about the art they love. As an annual gathering of the leading minds in opera, theatre, dance and classical music, the EIF asks what inspires these giants of the arts to continuously create? The interview series provides audiences with a rare glimpse into the thinking of some of the world’s most renowned musicians, playwrights and artists, including playwright Alan Ayckbourn, violinist Joshua Bell, artist and musician Martin Creed, playwright Zinnie Harris, sitar player Anoushka Shankar and pianist Mitsuko Uchida.

These portraits join EIF’s online archive of festival artists – Juliette Binoche, Barry Humphries, Alan Cumming, John Tiffany and Meow Meow – which commenced just two years ago in 2015. It provides an excellent introduction to this year’s multi-disciplinary programme, running from 4-28 August. Leading the pack in 2017 is celebrated playwright and storyteller Alan Ayckbourn, who talks about the excitement, emotion and thought-provoking live experience of theatre. He brings his latest piece, The Divide, to the King’s Theatre on 8-20 August.

Superstar U.S. violinist Joshua Bell describes his first discovery of music, the emotive experience of live performance and why music means so much to him, in preparation for his Artist-in-Residence performance at the Usher Hall and Queen’s Hall on 21, 24 and 26 August. Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed, who will be performing Words and Music at The Studio from 4-27 August, reflects on his job as an artist, trying to be true to himself, while making other people’s lives better. Award-winning playwright Zinnie Harris speaks about the importance of challenging something within the soul ahead of stagings of her three productions: Oresteia: This Restless House, Rhinoceros and Meet Me at Dawn.

Elsewhere, Usher Hall-performer Anoushka Shankar describes the electricity of being on stage and the power of music to help us connect with each other, while pianist Mitsuko Uchida examines the unpredictability of performing on stage.

To watch the 2017 International Festival Portraits, visit

The Edinburgh International Festival, 4-28 August, venues across the city.

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1. Martin Creed, 2017 International Festival Portrait. Courtesy of EIF.