Exhibitions/Edinburgh: Going out? Better wear your hair bikini

Welcome Stills Gallery, Edinburgh

Nicky Hoberman has previously exhibited bright saccharine-coloured paintings of groups of young girls which use a number of Polaroid snapshots as their starting point. For "Welcome" she exhibits enlarged versions of the individual photos themselves, part of a series called "Bubble-wrap". The frighteningly intense faces of the little girls look disturbed in some cases, cool and self-sufficient in others. It's hard to say if these portraits with their murkier colours and relative - if still distorted - naturalism are as effective as the artist's painted compositions. But they do contribute an important building-block to this three-woman show which explores boundaries between adult and child, male and female, and public and private.

Nina Saunders shows two installations. Both create dysfunctional domestic environments. In Forever, a child's swing has been built into a room installed in the gallery. Its three walls are covered in a pink embossed wallpaper of a formalised floral pattern. The creaking swing, accompanied by Engelbert Humperdinck crooning the romantic ballad "Forever and Ever", has repeatedly hit the wall, cutting into it, revealing layer upon layer, generation after generation, of previous wallpapers.

Her other installation, Smothered, features a large square of wall-mounted rose-patterned tapestry, painted over with thick oil paint, beside a stool covered in a similar but unadulterated upholstery fabric. Apparently the Danish artist's grandmother devoted 25 years of her life to looking after her invalid husband, and gifted her granddaughter the stitched item that eventually engendered Smothered. But the artist's vision encompasses more than her own family history. As in Forever, something English, Victorian, pretty and repressed is invoked, and furiously subverted.

In Emily Bates' "Balcony" series of photographs, lone adult women are shown, face forward but out of shot, wearing only a gossamer garment which is transparent except where hair has been sewn into it. A woman's pubic hair is echoed and her sexuality given gravitas by the fringes of long brown hair which cover her breasts in a way that is strangely reminiscent of sporrans. The women pose confidently against a backdrop evenly divided between an urban exterior and an interior decorated by pot plants and cut flowers. In control of their bodies, they seem poised to explore inner and outer worlds.

Opposite these photographs are a couple of similar-sized ones featuring naked men, adorned with hair in a different way which turns them into sex objects, beasts even. Each is in a claustrophobic room, with his back to the assertive women facing him from the photographs across the gallery. One kneels at a sink, a ponytail emerging in a natural-seeming way from the hairy small of his back, falling between his buttocks and drawing attention to his exposed and vulnerable scrotum. The other lies on a bed, his ponytail - which is a golden-blonde that doesn't match the brown hair under his armpit or on his head - brushed to one side to fully expose his bottom. "Look at the arse on that!" shouts a woman's voice from over my shoulder, as if to confirm how completely female opportunities have been transformed, at least within these enlightened walls.

Looking again at Hoberman's "Bubble-wrap" photographs, I wonder why they're so cold. And I imagine a doe-eyed, serious-minded infant with a sheet of bubble-wrap in her possession, systematically popping the cells one by one in order to release the very air.

Hannah Firth of Stills Gallery curated this show, intriguingly overlapping the work of the three artists. As I leave the gallery the images that go with me are from photographs: the face of a little girl with huge knowing eyes, and the torso of a woman in a hair bikini. But this is partly thanks to the emancipating context provided by Nina Saunders' hard- hitting installations.

`Welcome': Stills Gallery, Edinburgh (0131 622 6200) to 25 September

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells