Diana Savova

Once upon a time an awful pandemic gripped the land of thistles. It also spread over the land of sunflowers. Artists-mothers started painting dreamscapes. Their young children were sent on unnecessary quests in the name of home schooling. Lockdowned in this contemporary fairy tale, where is home? Is home the land of sunflowers where you were born in or the land of thistles you have settled into? Is home yet another, imaginary place of art where reality and fantasy merge into surreal imagery as if in a dream? How can we re-imagine these ecological and health emergencies through light, colour, and magic realism?

Thistles, Sunflowers and Dreamscapes solo exhibition by Diana Savova was curated by Iliyana Nedkova specifically for the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It ran 3 – 30 August 2021, daily 10:00 – 20:00 as part of Edinburgh International Festival Fringe 2021. It was free and open to all but booking was advised in line with the Scottish Government public health guidance, including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing. throughout the exhibition space Storytelling Court and the Scottish Storytelling Café.

Nectar for the insects, seeds for the birds and people – symbols for the poets, nations and artists. Find out more about the themes in the exhibition in my curatorial statement READ HERE

This was the first major solo exhibition in Scotland in the last five years of Diana Savova (b. 1978 Chepelare, Bulgaria. Lives and works in Edinburgh since 2011) who has been pursuing her professional artistic practice ranging from painting and fine art conservation to large-scale murals and book illustrations for over 20 years. Thistles, Sunflowers and Dreamscapes included a curatorial selection of over 30 new works by Diana Savova in ink, oil and acrylic with surreal motifs which strongly resonate with the intense surrealism not only of our novel coronavirus times but also of the pagan rituals and tales of a bygone era. 

The exhibition was accompanied by a special preview on Tuesday 3 August 18:00 which featured the artist, curator and a double duet of traditional dance and bagpipes from across Scotland and Bulgaria – a new commission by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland, devised by Alexis Street, Ariana Stoyanova, Rossen Kissiov and James Macdonald Reid.

To find our more about the origins of the exhibition and the new commission by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland, please tune into these two interviews by Wendy Timmons, Convener of Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland, with Iliyana Nedkova WATCH HERE (16 min) and with both Alexis Street and Ariana Stoyanova WATCH HERE (15 min)

As part of Edinburgh International Festival Fringe 2021 Thistles, Sunflowers and Dreamscapes was supported by Scottish Storytelling Centre, Traditional Dance Forum Scotland, Visual Artist and Craft Maker Award through Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, as well as media partners Bulgarian Educational and Cultural Centre Scotland and New Bulgarians art platform.

All works featured were available for sale directly through the artist’s website at a special offer valid for the duration of the exhibition with some of the proceeds pledged in donation of Davidson’s Mains Primary School, Edinburgh. 

Diana Savova Website Cover

The exhibition was preceded by a period of curatorial mentorship in the summer of 2020. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown we migrated our curator-artist dialogue online initiating a series of curatorial studio visits through various video platforms. The outcome is collated in my curatorial diary published on the artist’s website between 26 April and 12 September 2020 with over 30 short stories each inspired by the artist’s works and practice.


Curatorial mentorship supported by VACMA – the Visual Artist and Craft Maker Award programme administered through Creative Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council

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