Helsinki in Finland was one of the destinations on our recent Baltic cruise. We decided to walk out to see the structure which commemorates the composer Sibelius – we walked and walked – and ‘better’ walked as the Scots phrase for too much goes, thinking we would never get there, but we did, just as three bus tours full of Chinese tourists descended on it. They all wanted an individual photo of themselves standing beside the monument for some reason, so it was quite some time before we could get an image of it on its own. Meanwhile I wondered if any of them had even heard of Sibelius, but for all I know they may have been a Chinese branch of his appreciation society!
I’m wondering if the designer got mixed up between Sibelius and Mendelssohn as it really reminds me of Fingal’s Cave which is the cave on the uninhabited Scottish island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides which inspired Mendelssohn to write his best known piece of music of that name. you can see images of it here.
Below is the man himself and yes they did all have to have their photo taken with him – individually.
I found the video below on You Tube, it’s his Finlandia, Op. 26.symphonic. Apart from beautiful music it also shows amazing scenery and lots of animals as well as the northern lights.
A Capital View – The Art of Edinburgh – by Alyssa Jean Popiel is what used to be called a coffee table book – maybe it still is but I haven’t heard that term for yonks. It’s sumptuous and features one hundred artworks from Edinburgh City’s art collection. It must have been such a difficult task for the author to choose which artworks to include in the volume as Edinburgh City Council has been collecting since the middle of the 18th century. But this isn’t only a book which focuses on the artworks, it also gives lots of interesting details on the lives of the artists and the history of the areas featured in the images, and of course in lots of cases the places have been demolished and it’s lucky that the artists preserved them for posterity.
Below are a few of the artworks featured.
The Village of the Water of Leith from a Window in Rothesay Terrace by Sir William Fettes Douglas
North Bridge and Salisbury Crags by Adam Bruce Thomson
Plainstane’s Close, 1878 by Robert Noble
The Palace of Holyroodhouse by Claude Buckle (1960) which was a British Railways poster.
Although I borrowed this book from that library that I’m not supposed to be visiting, I think I might end up buying it as it’s so interesting.
A couple of weeks ago we had to go over to the west of Scotland – all of about 75 miles from us here in the east. We were picking up a table we had bought on Gumtree, but before doing that we had a look at the cathedral – can you believe we had never visited Glasgow Cathedral before? I’ll blog about that visit soon. I’m a bit pushed for time tonight and it’s nearly my bedtime so I give you – The Willow Tearooms in Buchanan Street, Glasgow. While we were waiting for our coffee and cream/jam scones to arrive (we made them Cornish style of course) I took a few photos. Luckily by this time it was getting on for 5 pm so there weren’t many others partaking of a stylish rest and snack.
You have to walk through a gift shop to get into the lower tearoom (which is still upstairs, just not as high up as the other one) and the demi lune chair below is situated there. The woman on the till offered to take a photo of us both on the chair, but that would have hidden the whole shape of it so we politely declined.
The upper room is called The Chinese Tearoom, but whenever we go there it’s almost always closed already, maybe we should get there earlier. The loos are up that way though so we were able to take photos of the very different style. I love that vibrant colour.
The chair below stands on a mezzanine landing.
The alcove below shows some of the things available to buy.
If you want to see some photos from a previous visit have a look at this blogpost that Jack wrote a few years ago.
Have you heard of the artist Helen Bradley? She didn’t start painting until she was over 60. She wanted to show her granddaughter the memories that she had of her Edwardian childhood and the upshot was her book And Miss Carter Wore Pink. It was published in 1971 and I just bought a copy of it from a charity shop a few days ago. When I worked in libraries I was always having to rescue it from the nursery book boxes as people often thought that it was a book for kids and ‘helpfully’ relocated it.
In the book Helen Bradley tells the story of her childhood and the people who played a prominent part in it. It’s a really charming book although no doubt Helen Bradley was only painting her happy memories viewed through rose tinted specs. But maybe she did have an idyllic childhood. She said ‘The Edwardian period was lovely, gay and exciting, and I loved painting it, even the weather was kinder.’
Her style is primitive and deceptively simple looking. Her work has been compared with Grandma Moses and L.S. Lowry admired her work. In her 1970 art exhibition all of her paintings were sold before opening day.
This afternoon we drove to Edinburgh thinking that it wouldn’t be too busy as it’s a Sunday and we might find it easier to get parked. Insert a hollow laugh here as we couldn’t have been more wrong, it was MOBBED. It turned out that the Christmas Fair in Princes Street gardens (just below the castle) had just opened yesterday and some other streets were closed to traffic. I even saw an actual ballerina dancing on a stage in the distance – to The Sugar Plum Fairy of course.
I of course forgot my camera, but you can see images of the Christmas Market here.
Anyway, the main reason we decided to go to Edinburgh wasn’t for shopping – it was to visit the Toulouse Lautrec poster exhibition which is on in The National Galleries. It’s called Pin-Ups and the Art of Celebrity. Sadly it’s one that you have to pay to see, the galleries and museums in Scotland are free to the public but they usually have some special exhibitions on that you have to pay for if you want to see them. Luckily we get free entry as we’re Friends of the Galleries. We enjoyed the exhibition but don’t really think it was worth the £11.50 they were charging to see it.
Are you old enough to remember the 1970s when Toulouse Lautrec posters and merchandise seemed to be everywhere? as well as Mucha posters of course. Well we still have some of the merchandise from those days but the two Lautrec prints we have in our bedroom are of Jane Avril and May Belfort and they originally belonged to Jack’s grandparents, probably dating from the 1920s.
As it happens, elsewhere in this blog I mentioned that we stood at a shoe shop window in Bruges – singing How Much is That Doggie on the Window? Well there was a dog sitting amongst the shoe displays! You know what it’s like – being on holiday somehow encourages a bit of daftness.
So where is all this meandering leading to I hear you ask? Well – today I discovered that May Belfort was the original singer of Daddy wouldn’t buy me a bow-wow – which is a variation on the theme, and sure enough she did go on stage holding a little cat, which according to the song she was very fond of. I doubt if it was a real cat though as they’re not well known for behaving themselves and staying where they should. Now every time I look at that print I’ll hear her singing.
On the way out of the National Gallery we had to make our way up the steps at the Christmas Market to get on to Princes Street – nightmare!
Following on from my previous post – below is a side view of John Ruskin’s house Brantwood at Coniston. As you can see it goes quite far back. The rather ugly grey blocks to the right of the photo are now loos but I think originally they were workshops.
I took the photo below so that you could see the view of the lake from it, the room itself is a small museum which features artefacts that Ruskin had collected, especially geological samples, the white object on the table is a huge piece of rock crystal. He seems to have been fond of that as it features in the garden too.
The drawing room is below.
And now a sort of study which has the same wallpaper, I didn’t notice that when we were there!
On to the dining room which is quite sparse looking in the photo below.
But from the other end it’s a bit more homely looking. The portraits are of members of his family.
Below is his bedroom which looks very much like it belongs to a single man but he did marry again eventually. The watercolours on the walls are of landscapes.
Below is a photo of a tiny turret room, really it’s just a bay window off the bedroom but it has a wonderful view of the lake – a favourite spot for Ruskin to sit in I believe.
Looking at the photos now I’m quite confused, mainly due to the same wallpaper featuring in two and possibly three rooms. Were there two pianos in the same room? Possibly there were, I used to have a boudoir grand and an upright in the same room after all – which makes me sound posh I suppose – but I’m not!
Brantwood is in a lovely location and must have been comfortable in its day. John Ruskin was a great champion of the Pre-Raphelite Botherhood of course but there’s not a great deal of evidence of any of their paintings here. Ruskin was definitely not good husband material going by his poor wife Effie’s experiences.
Effie Gray eventually married the artist Millais and they had eight children. Click on the link to read a bit more about the background of the marriage.
Another art exhibition that we visited recently was at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh’s Queen Street. I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Victoria Crowe before, portraiture isn’t my favourite sort of art but her Beyond Likeness exhibition is impressive, and it’s free to view. It’s on until November 18th, so I might even go back for a second look.
Most of the subjects are successful in their own field, but I hadn’t heard of many of them – which says more about me than anything else! Lots of her paintings are the sort that you could look at for ages and still see something new in them the next time.
You can see more images of Victoria Crowe’s work here.
One day a couple of weeks ago we braved the heavy traffic and crowds of the Edinburgh Festival to visit the Modern Two Art Gallery, mainly so that we could see the Emil Nolde Colour is Life exhibition which is on there at the moment (until 21st October). Sadly you have to pay to see this exhibition, but as Friends of the Gallery we got in free.
I must admit that I don’t think I had ever heard of the German artist Emil Nolde before. His reputation was harmed because in the early 1930s he joined the Nazi party. Possibly he did so in the hope that it would help his career but if so it backfired because Hitler declared him to be a degenerate artist. In fact in that highly popular degenerate artists exhibition that the Nazis put on. Nolde’s works featured more than anyone else. If you’re interested in seeing some of his works and a short film about him have a look here.
I don’t like all of his work but I like the one below of a Nordfriesland landscape
There are also a lot of pencil drawings that show how talented he was. You can see more of his paintings here.
Jack blogged about this exhibition here.
Back to Threave Gardens again and the photo below is close to the entrance, it looks like a newly planted area and the sphere is made up of slate, very trendy at the moment I think. I’m sure they’re also very expensive as there’s obviously a lot of skill and time involved in sculpting something like that.
Giant Gunneras seem to grow well in Scotland, there are quite a lot growing in the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens too. They always remind me of a Beatrix Potter illustration.
There are some really lovely trees growing at Threave and in the distance below there’s a large carved wooden fir cone.
I love walled gardens, they always have a feeling of safety and comfort and of course the walls offer great protection for the plants, the one at Threave is beautiful.
Threave really has a wonderful variety of plants and different types of gardens.
I was quite surprised by the rockery below though as it doesn’t have much in the way of rocks. I thought my rockery was a bit lacking in rocks but it has more than this one at Threave.
Below is another sculpture which is a big lump of rock with carvings of animals on it. I prefer big rocks to be left au naturel as to me you can never improve on the beauty of a natural rock face, but that’s just my opinion. The trees look fantastic though – don’t they?
We’ve been to the New Era exhibition at the Modern 2 Gallery in Edinburgh and I’ve blogged about our first visit here. This time I’m showing one of the sculptures. Below is a model of a brass head by J.D. Fergusson who is better known for his paintings. It’s called Eastre (Hymn to the Sun) and was created in 1924. It’s very much of its time I think, it looks very futuristic and reminds me of Princess Leia. You can read more about it here.
Below is The Hunt by Robert Burns, created around 1926. When I first saw this one I really didn’t like it, it seemed too gaudy, the gold paint really stands out, you can read about it here. This one originally decorated a wall in an Edinburgh tearoom in Princes Street. The artist was commissioned to design everything in the tearoom, including the cake stands.
This one really grew on me and the amount of detail in the painting is wonderful. Very un-Edinburgh especially for the 1920s, evidently it was a far more exciting place than I had imagined.
Finally, The Sensation of Crossing the Street by Stanley Cursiter.