Victoria Crowe – Beyond Likeness – Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

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.

Emil Nolde – Colour is Life, Edinburgh

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

Nolde

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.

Threave Gardens, Dumfries and Galloway

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.

spherical sculpture

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.
Gunnera

There are some really lovely trees growing at Threave and in the distance below there’s a large carved wooden fir cone.
Conifers + 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.
Path in walled Garden

Threave really has a wonderful variety of plants and different types of gardens.

Acer and  Arched Hedge

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.
Rockery

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?
Sculpture and Plants, Threave Gardens

A New Era – Modern Art Two – Edinburgh

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.

brass head

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.
the hunt 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.

the sensation of crossing the street

Book sculptures in Edinburgh

When we visited the Muriel Spark exhibition at the National Library of Scotland last month I was disappointed that they weren’t allowing people to take photos of the exhibits, but I was allowed to photograph the book sculptures that are on display in the foyer. An anonymous female sculptor made these lovely things and left them at important cultural locations.

Artist work  book sculpture

book sculpture

The first sculpture was found in 2011 and nine others appeared at various locations in Edinburgh. In 2015 the artist decided that her project was coming to an end and she announced she wanted the public to help her with the last one – The Butterfly Tree and Lost Child. People sent in butterflies to be included in the design. The artist has remained anonymous. You can see some images here. It’s obviously much bigger than the others.

A New Era – Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Towards the end of last year we had an afternoon out at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, particularly to view their exhibition called A New Era – Scottish Modern Art 1900 – 1950. The exhibition is on until June the 10th, 2018 and unfortunately it’s one that you have to pay to see unless you’re a ‘Friend’ of the galleries, as we are.

We’ll be going to see it again as it’s a really good exhibition over four galleries although I must admit that we both enjoyed the first two galleries more than the others. I took a note of some of my favourites so I could share them with you.

Stanley Cursiter painted in a variety of styles over his career but I particularly love The Regatta which I saw in Edinburgh. It was painted in 1913 and still seems incredibly fresh and modern to me.

The Regatta

Also Eric Robertson‘s The Shellburst

The Shellburst

I’ve actually got a wee print of the one below. Edinburgh Castle and skyline must be one of the most often painted views but this one manages to be quite different in a good way – I think, but you may not agree.

William Crozier’s Edinburgh from Salisbury Crags.

William Crozier

You can see more of his works here.

We’ll be going back for another keek at the exhibition at some point before it closes.

Hill House at Helensburgh in the west of Scotland

In October 2017 we found ourselves running around all over the place, from Norway to Lancashire, but the photos below are from Hill House in Helensburgh, much closer to home, well what was home when I was growing up, the west of Scotland. Hill House was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and he was incredibly lucky to be commissioned to design not only the house but everything inside it too, very rare for an architect I think. It’s only recently that The National Trust for Scotland has allowed visitors to take photographs of the interior. The house was built between 1902 and 1904.

Mackintosh was keen on light and dark so a lot of the woodwork is black, but really that serves to be a wonderful contrast to the beautiful cream coloured rooms. It was practical too I think as the hall and stairs are dark, places that would have been quite difficult to keep looking absolutely pristine, especially as this was designed as a family home – for the Scottish publisher Walter Blackie. If you have some old Blackie books the binding will almost certainly have been designed by Mackintosh.

The photo below is of a small hall table as you can see the design is arts and crafts. His designs are a mixture of arts and crafts, art nouveau and Japanese.

Hill House Hall table at Helensburgh

A very dark stairwell entrance below, unfortunately very difficult to photograph becaus eof the wall light.

stairwell entrance

The drawing room below has a handy niche for the baby grand and as you can see the room is nice and bright.

Drawing room 1

Below is another view of the drawing room.

Drawing room

And another view of the drawing room. Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald worked as a team on this project with Margaret designing and making some of the art works and soft furnishings.
Drawing room 3

She embroidered the settee backs which are still in reasonable condition considering how old they are now.
Drawing room 4

Drawing room 7

I have plenty more photos but they can wait for another blogpost. Sadly Mackintosh used Portland cement on the exterior of the building, it was a ‘new wonder product’ according to the manufacturers. But in the damp climate of the west of Scotland it was a disastrous choice as it drew the moisture into the fabric of the building causing lots of problems. Now they are even thinking about building a huge glass structure over the whole house to try to preserve it. Desperate measures!

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Modern One

Some years ago I blogged about the art installation that has been added to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. I thought it was just a temporary thing, a reaction to the financial melt-down of 2008 but obviously it isn’t. In Alexander McCall Smith’s recent Scotland Street book The Bertie Project he mentions this installation. He’s not happy that the word ‘alright’ is there instead of ‘all right’. He has his character Domenica complaining of the use surmising that it must be deliberate as Kingsley Amis desribed ‘alright’ as ‘gross, crass, coarse and to be avoided,’ and Bill Bryson, hardly a fuddy-duddy describes its use as ‘illiterate and unacceptable.’

Domenica admits that she feels very old-fashioned in expecting people to be able to spell. It’s one of McCall Smith’s meandering conversations that often bring in modern morality or ethics.

But a more recent installation in the gallery across the road and several years on from the melt-down is taking a much more pessimistic and possibly Calvinist attitude to our situation.

View from Dean Gallery

It seems we’re done for!

View from Dean Gallery

Modern Two, Edinburgh – True to Life Exhibition

A few weeks ago we visited the True to Life art exhibition at Modern Two in Edinburgh. It’s realist art from the 1920 and 30s. We went to the preview evening but that was so packed out we could hardly see the artworks so another visit was needed. Below are just a few of the paintings that I particularly liked.

Hiking by James Walker Tucker. It reminds me of the ‘scraps’ I used to collect as a schoolgirl. I wonder what happened to them.

Hiking by James Walker Tucker

Still Life by Edward Baird. I have a jug exactly the same as the one in this painting. It’s a Scottish pottery jug about 130 years old and was used for beer or wine.

Still Life by Edward Baird

This is James Bateman’s Haytime in the Cotswolds.

Haytime in the Cotswolds

Blackpool by Fortunino Mataria. This was used as a railway poster. Blackpool was always a popular destination for Scottish holidaymakers.

Blackpool by Fortunino Mataria

Beyond Caravaggio Exhibition, Edinburgh

One day a couple of weeks ago we went to the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. It’s part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. I have to say that it’s not my favourite era in art as those 16th/17th century artists were often a bit too keen on the gory side of religious scenes for my liking. But I do love Caravaggio, he was amazing dealing with light, although I was a wee bit disappointed that there are only three of his paintings in the exhibition. The others are by his pupils or by people who were trying to emulate his style, such was his influence.

I love the one below, – A Man Singing by Adam de Coster.

Adam de Coster

It was painted around 1625-35.

You can see some of the exhibits here. And some more of them here.

There are many more in the actual exhibition.

Unfortunately this is not a free exhibition. We joined the “Friends of the Gallery” earlier in the year so we didn’t have to pay. Otherwise it would have been £12 each – but there are a lot of paintings to see, five or six rooms’ worth.