Established in 1984, the Collective Gallery was for many years a mainstay of a typical storefront unit on Cockburn Street, before leaving the premises in 2013 to relocate to a new space on top of Calton Hill in the old City Observatory and Dome. In doing so it’s made itself slightly harder to access, with a substantial uphill walk required to get there, but it’s also situated among some stunning natural surroundings. Calton Hill is a deservedly popular tourist spot, with definitive views of Leith, the Firth of Forth and Arthur’s Seat.
The old brick dome of the observatory building was built in 1818 from designs by William Playfair – who also created the iconic Royal Scottish Academy building on Princes Street, among many other iconic city landmarks – and today forms an atypical and somewhat compact circular gallery space. The Collective’s aim is to support emerging artists at an early stage in their career, offering new work commissions to young artists. A wider goal involves redeveloping the entire Observatory complex for artistic use by 2016, with their new outdoor café outlet from West End establishment Milk already adding to the facilities available up Calton Hill.