Preview: Visual Art at the Hidden Door Birthday Party

Our Birthday Party is a celebration of 10 years of showcasing incredible work by creatives across Scotland and beyond, and our event will feature work by 18 artists and collectives that have featured at previous Hidden Door Festivals. Their work will recall those past exhibitions whilst also reflecting how each artist has evolved in the years since.

We take a look at some of the work being developed for the event, as we invite you to head underground, and back in time…

If you’re coming to our birthday party, you can explore pre-Y2K, courtesy of UTI (Under The Influence): 1999-2006. Marking 25 years since UTIs first night, we’ll be showcasing a small selection of the artwork presented over the six years this techno club ran in Edinburgh venues, from The Wee Red to Studio 24 to The Venue.

And if dance music appeals, there will also be a chance to check out Jill M Boualaxai’s work – The Rave Cave, which asks what the site of a rave might look like to future archaeologists? What would they understand from the snippets of decipherable footage and discarded artefacts? Taking the notion that archaeology eavesdrops on the past, would the iconic smiley face of acid house appear godlike?

Jill says: “Witnessed out of context, rave could be compared to religion, its dance appearing tribal as with the frenzied dance often witnessed in rituals.” Come and see for yourself!

Jill Boulalaxai

If archaeology appeals, then be sure to find Emma Hislop’s, Bethnic Tremors, which reimagines the work Hislop created as part of collective ‘Aphotic Archaeology’ for Hidden Door 2023.

Emma is a visual artist who explores the intersection of material processes, historical inquiry, and speculative storytelling. Her practice, spanning metal, glass, ceramics, and botanicals, explores ecology through semi-fictional narratives grounded in science, environment, and mysticism, and this work takes a new look at the deep ocean archaeological site that grows on the origin myth.

Party attendees are also invited to explore The Menagerie, work by Miriam Mallalieu from Hidden Door 2015.

Commissioned for the festival that year, the piece, which hasn’t been exhibited since, comprises hundreds of paper-thin, porcelain origami boxes, placed in series in a long, snaking structure.

Miriam Mallalieu
Emma Hislop

Ursula Cheng’s You Get What You Wish For comprises pieces developed from Hidden Door 2016, and produced in 2017 following a summer trip across Europe.

Ursula explains: “I began to explore spray paint, ink and transparent surfaces in which different effects with lighting and reflections would occur. The three works combine drawings and a sketchbook spirit of travelling and the unexpected. Characters I met along the way and the personal experience of being liberated and observing the cultures around me.’

Ursula Cheng

There will also be the chance to revisit Wishbones, work from the 2022 Festival, by Elvey Stedman.

The ethereal, intricately crafted silk and pearl sculptures resemble chandeliers, roots, animal skeletons, kelp, bird feet, jellyfish and cage crinolines. Each sculpture drips in real freshwater pearls and is wrapped in layers of white silk fibres.

Staying by the shore, we will be showing work from Tiphereth Print Studio – Under The Sea.

These hand screen printed fabric banners show the different levels of the sea from the shallows to the depths, and are filled with beautiful characters, including a sea lion, a mermaid and some amazing birds.


Then be transported from the sea to the sky, via Zoe Gibson’s, Sun + Moon (at waters edge), a film piece following the daily domestic routine of Sun and Moon.

Party-goers will also have the chance to see two unique new works that are being created for the event.

Silas Parry presents Ootheca for New Worlds, an installation being developed for our birthday party’s unique underground venue.

An OOTHECA is an egg capsule or case, like that of certain gastropods or insects. This piece will remind us of animal life, alien landscapes, or forms that may grow in the deep-sea. It will incubate new possibilities that help us remember there are always other options. As if a giant mythical creature laid a brood of eggs in an underground concrete carpark – eggs that will hatch and grow to become transformative new ways of being in the world.

Silas Parry

James Sinfield’s – Mmm… Car Park, I Love You, is another new body of work created specifically for the event.

These paintings celebrate the beautiful, functional, twentieth-century edifice of the car park. ‘Cars’ were devices that the humans of Anthropocene period would use to travel to and from work and to visit ‘shopping centres’. These shopping centres were the temples of late capitalism where tokens could be exchanged for goods and services. There was a high correlation between owners of powerful, large cars and the number of objects obtained from the shopping centres. These humans were considered high-status and successful.

James Sinfield

The full roster of visual artists includes: Ursula Cheng, Tiphereth Print Studio, Zoe Gibson, Lewi Quinn, Martin Eldon, James Sinfield, Jill M Boualaxai, Bright Side Studios, Oana Stanciu, Sarah Calmus, Silas Parry, Elvey Stedman, Evie Rose Thornton, Iain H Williams, Miriam Mallalieu, Martin Crawford, Matthew Storstein and Emma Hislop.

Matthew Storstein
Bright Side Studios
Bright Side Studios
Martin Crawford
Oana Stanclu

Jill M Boualaxai, visual art curator at Hidden Door, said:  “It’s been really fun digging through the visual art archives of past festivals and considering what might still exist and what could work well in our birthday party venue. I am thrilled to be collaborating with the selected artists, many of whom are bringing their previous Hidden Door projects to life in a new space.”

Some works will also be available to purchase, giving you an exclusive chance to take a piece of history home with you.

Sarah Calmus
Evie Rose Thornton