Petronella Oortman’s dollhouse, The Rijksmuseum

Last year we visited the Rjksmuseum in Amsterdam for the first time, it was amazingly busy, despite having to pay quite a lot to get in when such places are free in the UK.

The photos below are of a dollhouse which was never meant to be a toy. It was owned by a woman, Petronella Oortman.  She was a wealthy woman and she spent a large amount of money on her miniature house, which is actually quite large. It’s fitted out beautifully. Having a house like this was the equivalent of a man having a cabinet of curiosities.

The doll’s house is huge. I couldn’t fit it all in one picture so the one below is a stitch of two

Petronella Oortman's Doll's House  (stitch)

Such was the Doll’s House’s fame that someone painted it. The painting hangs on a wall nearby

Painting of Petronella Oortman's Doll's House

It’s a very popular exhibit so I wasn’t able to spend as much time looking at its nine rooms as I would have liked, mind you I could have looked at it all day.

Another fairly large doll’s house belonged to another Petronella! Petronella Dunois

Petronella Dunois's Doll's House 2

A closer view of upper portion

Upper Part, Petronella Dunois's Doll's House



We visited Bannockburn recently, a place we had never been before, it’s not far from Stirling. The famous battle was fought there in 1314 although there’s no actual archeological evidence of the battle now, the geography of the battle was known as it was the bogginess of the terrain and Bruce’s knowledge of it which led to the Scottish victory. There’s now a visitor centre there, but the statue in the photo below of Robert the Bruce by Pilkington Jackson was placed there in 1964. I have to say that modern day sculptors seem to have lost the art of sculpting,  this one is really good.

Robert the Bruce , Bannockburn, Stirling, Scotland, battlefield

There’s also a rotunda below, with a massive flagpole which dates from Victorian times although the rotunda is much more modern.

Rotunda + Flag, Bannockburn, battlefield, Scotland

Inside the actual visitor centre we enjoyed a really informative talk by Callum, who certainly knows his subject. He used cards to explain where each army was and pushed them around as they moved around the battlefield. There were also animated films which Jack thought were a bit amateurish looking, but I really liked them, there were two dimensional  figures which had a feeling of puppets the way they moved, I thought it was quite artistic.

Bannockburn Tableau, Bannockburn visitor centre

The articles on display are all reproductions as there are no archaeological finds in the area at all. As the soldiers in the Scottish army weren’t actually paid they were given permission to pick over the battlefield and take anything away that they wanted, it would have been picked clean, anything which had been missed would have sunk into the bog over the centuries.

This is the view down to the area where the battle took place.

Bannockburn Today

If you happen to be interested in the battle there’s a good You Tube animation of it below. The narrator is somewhat strange, there are some mistakes in pronunciation of basic words such as Scone which should not be pronounced like the baked scone, but should rhyme with ‘boon’ and incursion doesn’t have two ‘s’ sounds, plus the spelling is all American, but I suppose that’s me nit-picking.


The Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

Last week we had a couple of days away over in the west of Scotland, and on one of the days we took the train to Glasgow, something that Jack used to do on a daily basis and I did at least once a week, it was a bit of a nostalgia trip, despite the trains being completely different. Anyway, we were aiming for The Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street. They were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, they had been fairly recently refurbished, and have now been taken over by the National Trust for Scotland.

The Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street , Glasgow, Charles Rennie Mackintosh

As you can see from the photo below, the pedestrianised area of the street is having work done on it at the moment, the whole place is a mess and as usual there didn’t seem to be any actual work going on, you have to be quite determined to reach the tea room!

The Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Charles Rennie Mackintosh

We were sitting right at the window but as you can see from the photo below they have it screened by curtains so you don’t see people going past, and they can’t see in.  It was a very busy Friday lunchtime so the place was packed downstairs, but the food was good.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Willow Tea Rooms, Margaret Macdonald, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

The staff must be well used to people going around taking photos of the decor, as nobody batted an eyelid when Jack did that. I love the details, Mackintosh was quick to give his wife Margaret Macdonald the credit  for designing and working many of the textiles that feature in ‘his’ work

The Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow

The Willow Tea Rooms, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow, Sauchiehall Street

In the 1970s and 80s the tea rooom was shut and it was being used by Carrick the jewellery shop. They specialised in silver jewellery which was inspired by Mackintosh’s designs. It was more successful than many others and nowadays you can still buy some of the jewellery on Ebay and in ‘antique’ shops. There is an awful lot of ‘Mockintosh’ stuff around though which isn’t so pleasing to the eye – or my eye anyway.

The Willow Tea Rooms, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

Have you ever been in a tea room which actually had a bell on the table to summon assistance?  Everyone was very attentive so they weren’t really necessary.  Mind you I didn’t hear one actually being used!

The Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, C.R. Mackintosh

The photos above and below are of the second floor room which wasn’t being used at the time, it’s a sort of gallery and you can look down to the ground floor from there. There is another floor above that one which I suspect is used for special occasions like weddings – maybe.

Upper level The Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchihell Street, Glasgow Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Anyway, this visit was something that we had been planning to do for ages, then along came Covid and it was postponed yet again. We’ll go back for another visit sometime, the desserts were delicious!

The McManus Museum and Art Gallery, Dundee. Impressed Exhibition

In March we visited several art galleries, mainly in Edinburgh but we also visited the McManus Art Gallery and Museum in Dundee. They have an exhibition on called Impressed. It features limited edition prints by fairly well known artists.

The print below is by William McTaggart and is called Roses Against a Night Sky.

Dundee , William MacTaggart Roses Against a Night Sky

The print below is called Houses Hampstead and it’s by Winifred McKenzie.

Dundee, McManus,  Winifred McKenzie Houses Hampstead

Below is Homage to Modern Art by Ian Hamilton Finlay. As you can see the glass is very reflective so I’m featuring in it too! I just like boats, especially if they have sails they always look elegant.

Dundee ,Ian Hamilton Finlay Homage to Modern Art

Not to everyone’s taste, below is one by Eduard Paolozzi, I suppose it comes under the   heading of Pop Art.

aDundee 5 Eduard Paolozzi B.A.S.H. 2

Below is just a view of part of the exhibition, there’s quite a lot to see.

Dundee ,McManus,Second general view

There’s even a Picasso print, but I just realised after we left that I hadn’t  bothered to take a photo of it, I wasn’t too impressed! But generally the exhibition is well worth going to see, especially as it’s free.

Dundee ,McManus, General view


Shifting Vistas, City Art Centre, Edinburgh

Last month we visted the City Art Centre in Edinburgh to see their Shifting Vistas exhibition, 250 years of Scottish landscape. It’s on until the 2nd of June 2024.


The painting above is called Threatening Storm, it’s by the Scottish artist Sir William Gillies. I took just a few photos of some of my favourites.

Gillies blurb

A Late Snowfall, Galloway by Charles Oppenheimer.

Kirkcudbright blurb

Kirkcudbright, Charles Oppenheimr, A Late Snowfall,

A Corrie in Argyllshire

Loch Leven,Glencoe Info


Loch Leven,Glencoe


Temple info, Scottish art

When I saw Street in Temple (a village in Midlothian, near Edinburgh) I at first felt that it was a place that I know, but I’ve never been to Temple, it’s just so typically Scottish, it could be in almost any old town or village.

Street in Temple, Sir William Gillies

The City Art Centre is situated behind  Waverley Station, it’s usually well worth a visit, whatever is on. Entry is free. And it has a good cafe.









Do Ho Suh, Tracing Time, Modern One, Edinburgh

I hadn’t even heard of the Korean artist Do Ho Suh when I saw the posters advertising his Tracing Time exhibition at Modern One in Edinburgh, and I must admit that the artwork on the poster didn’t really enthrall me, so I was agreeably surprised when we went along to view the exhibition – and I was quite impressed.

Do Ho Suh, Modern One, Edinburgh, Art

He obviously has a thing about homes/houses. He grew up in an old house, unlike his schoolmates.

Do Ho Suh, Modern One, Edinburgh, Art

The gallery’s website says, ‘The exhibition presents the artist’s complex and compelling thread drawings – in which cotton thread is embedded in handmade paper – alongside architectural rubbings, paper sculptures, cyanotypes, printmaking and watercolours.’

However, I think that the artist draws his designs and the sends them to someone else to transfer the drawing into a much bigger artwork,, and they embed the cotton thread into special paper, although looking closely I thought some of the thread had been machine stitched on.  It all looks very delicate.

Do Ho Suh , Do Ho Suh, Modern One, Edinburgh, Art

I know I’m too nit-picking about artists as even hundreds of years ago the famous ones were employing apprentices to do a lot of the work which was then passed off as Rembrandt’s or whoever. Damien Hirst seems to do very little of the dirty work himself if any. I can’t say that I really understand it because if I were them I would want to feel that sense of achievement from creating something myself.

Do Ho Suh , Modern One, Edinburgh, Art


Do Ho Suh , Modern One, Edinburgh, Art

The photo below is of the ‘house’  which appeared on the promotional poster which I saw, you can walk through the structure which has been created from what looks like knitted/woven nylon mesh, complete with the door, 3-D door handle shapes and including other fixtures in a home such as an electrical socket and a fire alarm. You have to leave any bags you might be carrying outside the structure, so that there is no danger of you snagging anything on the fabric. I think it would be just like a pair of tights if you did do that, but then most homes do have a ladder in them somewhere!

Do Ho Suh , Modern One, Edinburgh, Art

The exhibition is on until 1st September.

The National Gallery of Scotland, Princes Street, Edinburgh/ The Royal Scottish Academy

When we visited The National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh last week to see The Printmaker’s Art exhibition we also took the time to look at an exhibition there called Now and Then, sponsored by Visual Arts Scotland.

I wasn’t a big fan of the way it was organised because there is no information about the paintings. They’re all for sale, but you have to enquire at a desk for any info and prices, very off-putting I think. Just a couple of them had been sold, for that reason I think. So the photos below are just a few of the works that I liked, but won’t be buying!

I was attracted to the painting below because it reminds me of a children’s book illustration, especially those from Eastern Europe, for some reason, but also like a painted sampler.

Like a children's book cover

The three below seemed very atmospheric to me.

Three pictures

Below isn’t a painting at all, it has been machine stitched, and the effect is quite beautiful when viewed from close up, and at a distance.

Machine Stitch

And below is an atmospheric cityscape – I think.

Cityscape by Karen Laird

If you want to explore the galleries – art and artists –  virtually, from the comfort of your own sofa, you can do so here.


The Printmaker’s Art Exhibition, at the National Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

Last week we went to The Printmaker’s Art exhibition  in Edinburgh. Here are a few of the highlights. This exhibition isn’t a free one, unless you are a ‘Friend of the Galleries’. It costs £14 for an adult ticket.  It was very busy, possibly because it doesn’t have all that long to run now, it closes on February the 25th.  The prints below are some of my favourites.


Sudden Shower below the Summit by Hokusai.

Hokusai Print


Concert Hall by Sybil Andrews

Sybil Andrews, Concert Hall


Virginia Woolf by her sister Vanessa Bell

Vanessa Bell


Jane Avril by Toulouse Lautrec

Jane Avril, Toulouse Lautrec


The Triple Hecate by William Blake

William Blake, The Triple Hecate


Grey Horse Head by Elisabeth Frink

Grey horse head, Elizabeth Frink

It’s a big exhibition, with four large rooms to visit, featuring Warhol, Picasso, Elizabeth Blackadder, Durer, Lichtenstein, Hockney and many more. I always find art galleries to be too hot and so exhausting, but it was well worth visiting.

Visiting art exhibitions

This coming week we’re going to Edinburgh to visit a couple of art exhibitions before they close, the time seems to go so quickly nowadays. So we’ll be going to the City Art Centre which is just at the back of Waverley Railway Station to see the    Exhibition, and then on to the National Gallery on Princes Street to see The Printmaker’s Art from Rembrandt to Rego exhibition.

But soonish we hope to be travelling further afield, weather permitting, maybe even down to England, so I’ve been doing some research. There are plenty of places we haven’t visited before. As a good Scot I like to get my money’s worth, and as a member of the Scottish National Trust and Historic Scotland I/we can get into the English versions free too.  I’ll be happy to get recommendations from any of you who have enjoyed days out in any of them.

English Heritage Collections

National Trust Collections 


Robert Burns – by Archibald Skirving

It’s a bit late on on Burns Night, but better late than never. Below is a photo of a facsimile of a drawing of Robert Burns by Archibald Skirving. I was born a Skirving and there aren’t that many of us about, so although I have never bothered to look up my family tree I just assume that any other Skirvings are related to me ‘through a drainpipe’ as they say in the north of England. As it happens Archibald looked very like one of my uncles, but I don’t think Archibald had any children himself.  Anyway, I think his drawing of Burns is really good.

Drawing of Robert Burns by Archibald Skirving

I managed to buy this from eBay in the form of a nice booklet.

Cover of 'Skirving Portrait of Burns'