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.

A Chasm in Time by Patricia R. Andrew

 A Chasm in Time cover

A Chasm in Time: Scottish War Art and Artists in the Twentieth Century by Patricia R. Andrew is a beautifully produced book and a great read. Anyone interested in art and history will find it fascinating I’m sure, you don’t have to be Scottish!

I was most interested in the World War 1 art which features such images as warships in Scapa Flow and the Firth of Forth, but it isn’t only war and weaponry that feature in the paintings. I particularly like James McIntosh Patrick’s Tay Bridge painting, but I hadn’t realised that this was the view from the front of the artist’s house. The government had commissioned art which showed the civilian side of life during the war.

The Tay Bridge from my Studio Window

Tay Bridge
The domestic scene below is of the view from the back of the artist’s house, showing his wife hanging out the washing and their wee daughter helping.

A City Garden
a city garden

There was only one thing that annoyed me about this book – it should have been proof read more closely. I know, I know, you could say that for almost any book nowadays. I think people run a spell checker and think that will sort things out but it doesn’t weed out such things as abroad when aboard should have been printed, or panting instead of painting. There were also quite a lot of hyphenated words where no hyphens should have been, such as wit-nessed, com-bination and Cran-ston. I think these must have come about when the book was being set out differently and not corrected when the design was changed. But that’s me being nit-picking, it’s just that I know that if I had written such a lovely book I would have been furious at these mistakes.

I borrowed this from the library but I intend to buy a copy of it as I know I’ll want to dip into it now and again.

Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes

 Good Evening, Mrs Craven cover

For a week now our home has been a bit of a centre of misery as we’ve both had rotten colds. Jack got it first and generously passed it on to me – share and share alike! With explosive sneezing bouts occurring frequently we’ve both been too exhausted to do anything much, but when I’ve had the energy I’ve been reading.

But decisions, decisions – what should I read? I tried The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s on my list of Scottish books to read for the Read Scotland 2017 Challenge. But I only got a couple of pages into it before realising that my brain was not going to cope with the medieval style of English that it seems to be written in. I gave it up intending to go back to it when I’m back to normal.

I then picked up A.J. Cronin’s The Citadel, but the subject matter of medicine and Harley Street doesn’t appeal to me at the moment. So I put it down again.

I couldn’t find my copy of The Young Pattullo by J.I.M. Stewart – so opted to start reading Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes. It had just dropped through our letterbox a few days before. It turned out that these short stories – often very short were just perfect for my mood.

They were originally published in The New Yorker magazine, giving people in America a flavour of what life was like for women in wartime Britain. There’s a date at the beginning of each story, presumably when it was originally published, the first one being 14 October 1939, so just a month or so into the war. The early stories are quite light-hearted and amusing but towards the end of the book nerves are getting frayed as food shortages and changes in life-styles begin to bite.

This is the first book by Mollie Panter-Downes (I can’t help it but her name always makes me smile) that I’ve read, and I’ll definitely be reading more. This one just hit the spot exactly.

I know that a lot of people prefer the original plain grey Persephone covers but I was particularly pleased that this one has as a cover which is one of my favourite World War 2 paintings, capturing what must have been the reality for people, women in particular, standing in queues for hours on end in an effort to get enough food to feed their family. The painting is by Evelyn Dunbar.

Evelyn Dunbar

Bridget Riley Exhibition

One day last week we went to Modern Art 1 in Edinburgh, this time to see the free Bridget Riley exhibition. Her canvases are massive, I must admit I’m not a huge fan of her Op Art work as some of it is just about guaranteed to bring on a migraine. I admire it though as I can’t really imagine how she managed to actually get it done so precisely as it has to be.

There’s information about her works on the walls and Riley says that she had to work her way through the black and white before going on to colour. You can see images of her work here.

It didn’t take us long to go around that exhibition, so as there was a blizzard going on outside we decided to look around the rest of the galleries. If you’re in Edinburgh and you like art it’s well worth taking the time to visit. You can see what else is on view here.

Most of downstairs has been taken over by Karla Black and Kishio Suga works. This is the sort of art that makes you think – I could do that! In fact anybody could do it, given a pile of cotton wool and powder paint, or some rocks from a beach and rope. I can’t tell you how unimpressed I am by that so called art.

In the old days whenever Jack and I saw something that made us almost speechless with disdain we would say – Oh my God Sadie in a sort of homage to a woman we knew who always said that when she was shocked at something. Nowadays though we seem to have updated it to – What would Freya say?! – an homage to a discerning twelve year old.

One thing that really impressed me was an early Francis Bacon painting. I’ve seen a lot of his work recently as when we went to The Guggenheim in Bilbao there was an exhibition on of his work, none of it really spoke to me, but the one below that I saw in Edinburgh did. The image below doesn’t do it justice as the actual painting is so detailed with the herringbone material of the coat really seeming three dimensional.

Francis Bacon