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'

Gaia, art installation, Lichfield Cathedral

It was my friend Cecilia who recommended that we should visit Lichfield Cathedral when we were down that way a few weeks ago, and I’m glad that she did. It’s a beautiful cathedral which was apparently badly damaged during the Civil War ( War of the Three Nations as it is now being named). King Charles II apparently paid for the stonework to be re-done where the damage could be repaired and the Victorians also did a lot of work, replacing figures on the frontage.

But back to Gaia, we were really lucky to see what is a massive but very fragile looking Earth, it’s seven metres in diameter and was made by the artist Luke Jerram from detailed NASA imagery of the Earths surface. It has religious connotations which is why it is being toured round cathedrals. In the flesh, so to speak, it’s a thing of awe and beauty. It certainly makes you think about what mankind is doing to our beautiful planet.

Gaia, installation at Lichfield Cathedral

Gaia viewed from the choir.

Lichfield Cathedral, choir , Gaia


Gaia , art installation, Luke Jerram

I took loads of photos of the cathedral, but I’ll leave those for another day.



A Year Unfolding by Angela Harding – 20 Books of Summer 2023

A Year Unfolding by Angela Harding, A printmaker’s view,  is a lovely book.  I asked Jack to buy me a copy for our fairly recent wedding anniversary. Actually it was supposed to be for my birthday but he didn’t get around to getting a copy fast enough for that!

You might have seen Angela Harding’s art illustrating various magazine articles, but it’s so much nicer to have them in a book. The art is accompanied by her thoughts on what has inspired her over the years and often her memories of being in the countryside and by the sea. There are quite a few poems by Welsh poet Edward Thomas, mainly on the subject of nature.

It didn’t take me long to read A Year Unfolding but it’s the sort of book that I’ll be dipping into constantly, just to savour the illustrations and prose. A real treat.


Grayson Perry at The Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

The last art gallery that I visited before this Grayson Perry exhibition in Edinburgh was The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I haven’t blogged about that visit yet, I think it’s fair to say that I went from the sublime to the ‘Cor Blimey’. In fact I was sort of in two minds whether to go to this exhibition or not, especially after reading The Guardian review which only gave it 2 stars.  I didn’t find it that bad though, I’d give it at least 3 stars. However, this exhibition isn’t a free one, it costs £19 to get in, luckily we are ‘Friends of the Galleries’ so we didn’t have to pay.

This is a huge exhibition of Perry’s work, the largest one he has ever had and it was so busy, despite the fact that we had to book a time slot before going there, there didn’t seem to be any restrictions on the numbers.

I agree with The Guardian reviewer that there’s too much of Alan Measles in Perry’s work, but Alan M is obviously Perry’s comfort blanket and muse, he’s the teddy bear that he was given when he had measles as a small child, and the real toy bear is too precious to be exhibited, a replica was made.

The art comes in various media, pottery, tapestry, woodcuts, drawings, a model house, motorbike complete with pseudo Alan Measles, iron castings, figures … Alan even makes it onto this pottery plate titled Two Old Guys Wearing Checked Skirts which is apparently also some sort of homage to the late Queen Elizabeth.

Two Old Guys Wearing Checked Skirts, Grayson Perry

What annoyed me though is that the actual pieces seem to me to have been executed in the easiest or laziest of ways. The woodcuts have been drawn and then put through a machine which did the actual woodcutting. He writes that he has nothing to do with a potter’s wheel, his pots are all done using the coiled clay method and built up that way.

This one though is an example of kintsugi, a smashed object glued back together and the joins painted in gold.

Kintsugi Vase by Grayson Perry

The tapestries are done from his drawings and machine made in Spain – fair enough I suppose. I did like the ideas behind the tapestries as they depict the life and death of a Yuppie who was only interested in money and possessions. Some of the wall hangings feature the names of well-known people, it reminded me that in 1970 I wanted to do something similar on an embroidery I was doing at school, except my idea was to embroider the names of favourite characters from classic novels, I was really annoyed when my teacher refused to let me do it – I was obviously ahead of the times. Six years later that teacher became my mother-in-law!

I’m fairly sure that Perry said in an interview some years ago that his cross-dressing had been a bid to get attention – and it worked.

You can see Jack’s thoughts on the exhibition and some of the tapestries here.


Sueno’s Stone, at Forres, Morayshire

When we visited Elgin back in May one of the places on our list of places/things to visit was Sueno’s Stone on the outskirts of Forres. It’s enormous, 21 feet of ninth century stone, intricately carved with Pictish designs and possibly depicting a battle. The monolith has had a glass enclosure erected around it in recent years to protect it from the elements, as you can imagine the weather can be severe up there in winter.

Sueno's Stone, Forres

The designs are very detailed and are on all of the stone’s surfaces, so we were there quite a while taking photos and examining the designs.

Sueno's Stone Closer view

Apparently there’s a tale locally that the stone is where Macbeth met the three witches and that their souls are trapped inside the stone. It’s believed that the stone is in its original position, some Pictish stones have been relocated over the years apparently.

Sueno's Stone, Side View

While we were there a man arrived and quickly walked around the stone using his phone to video it, at no point did he actually look at the stone, apart from through his phone, and within 90 seconds he was off, no doubt to the next thing of interest and probably uploading it to Facebook as he went! That’s modern life for some I suppose!

The Night Watch by Rembrandt

We’ve been to the Netherlands quite a lot as I have a brother who has lived there for decades, but we had never been to Amsterdam and Jack and I were both fed up having to tell people we hadn’t been there as it seems that that is the only place people visit in NL. So we rectified that a few weeks ago and took the train to Amsterdam from Friesland, a two and a half hour journey. We were heading for The Rijksmuseum, around a 30 minute walk from the railway station, everybody else seemed to be a tourist too!

We wanted to see everything at the museum and we DID see everything, but we especially wanted to see Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and look what we saw when we got there!

Rembrandt's Night Watch, Rijksmuseum

At the moment most of the very large painting is covered with machinery and gadgets which are apparently measuring the vibrations of the canvas. It’s thought that tiny vibrations in the atmosphere are damaging it.

It’s just typical – when we went to see Chatsworth part of it was covered with scaffolding, see the photo below.

Chatsworth House

The famous bridge at Ironbridge was likewise obscured the first time we went there.

Iron Bridge at Ironbridge

And of course when we sailed to the Bay of Biscay it was an absolute flat calm when it’s well known for being rough, something that I was looking forward to. I’m strange that way, I don’t like fairground attractions, just looking at them makes me feel sick but I’m never sea-sick.

Masonic Lodge, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire

Last September we decided to go to the Doors Open day over in the Alexandria/Dumbarton area of the west of Scotland. It’s a lovely drive there anyway from the east – on a good weather day – which it was.

One of the places we wanted to visit was the Masonic Hall in Alexandria, it had been recommended to us by a friend. It’s a lovely building which was originally built as a school for girls. It still has the original painted decorations on the walls. The photo below is a stitch of it, hence the ‘bend’.

Masonic Lodge, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire

Sadly the school didn’t last for long. Possibly there weren’t enough comfortably off parents who were willing to spend money on the education of their daughters! The photo of the hammerbeam roof below isn’t that good, in reality it’s much nicer, apparently they’re a rarity in Scotland, of course the building is art nouveau in design.

hammerbeam ceiling, roof

But as you can see the lovely murals in the corridors have survived, complete with poems.

mural , Masonic Lodge, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire

mural, Masonic Lodge, Alexandria, Dunbartohshire

mural , Masonic Lodge, Alexandria

mural, Masonic Lodge, Dunbartonshire

mural , Masonic Lodge, Alexandria

mural , Masonic Lodge, Alexandria

mural , Masonic Lodge, Alexandria

mural , masonic lodge, Alexandria

The windows are very stylish as you can see, I managed to get the date of the building in the photo below, which I was quite pleased about as I just snapped these photos as we were walking along the corridor being given a wee tour of the building.

Window, masonic lodge, Alexandria

The poems in the murals are all from songs, some by Robert Burns, some traditional but collected by Burns for posterity.

As you can imagine this is a very expensive building to heat and maintain, I hope it doesn’t come to grief. Thanks for pointing us in its direction, Jeremy.