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.

First jigsaw – The Westbury White Horse

Jigsaw Of Westbury White Horse

It’s that season again – jigsaw time. It’s of The Westbury White Horse, which is in Wiltshire. The painting is by Eric Ravilious and the jigsaw puzzle has 1,000 pieces. So far it hasn’t been too frustrating, but all of those green bits might get me down. I love the wee steam train chuffing away on the left hand side.

During World War 2 the artist Eric Ravilious was a war artist. Sadly he died on active service in 1942 when the aeroplane he was in disappeared over Iceland. I really like his style of painting.

A Taste for Impressionism, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

One day last week we went over to Edinburgh to visit A Taste for Impressionism Modern French Art from Millet to Matisse which is on at the National Gallery of Scotland. The exhibition is on till 13th November.

It was really busy, much busier than I had expected given that it’s late on in September, so hardly high tourist season. It’s a big exhibition with five large galleries full of paintings and sculpture. I must say that a lot of the artworks aren’t really what I think of as Impressionist art, but all the same there were quite a few that I wouldn’t mind hanging on my walls!

I liked the painting by Camille Pissaro below, not just because it’s a pretty scene but because it shows a bit of social history that I hadn’t heard of before – a mobile wash tub.

Pissaro, Art

This is another Pissaro, Kitchen Garden at Hermitage Pontoise.

Pissaro, Art

This one by Henri le Sidaner appealed to me.

Henri le Sidaner, Art,

You can see more of his work here.

Jean Charles Cazin, A Village Street at Evening – below, is very atmospheric. You just want to get into that wee house in the distance which has a welcoming light on.

Jean Charles Cazin, A Village Street at Evening

If you click the link above you can see a couple of short films about the exhibition and some of the paintings.
You can have a look at Jack’s thoughts on the exhibition here.

Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary (I know, but I was a child bride!) and we couldn’t think of anything better to do than to spend the afternoon at Jupiter Artland, which is an outdour sculpture park by Edinburgh. It was a hot day, and we hadn’t had any rain for quite a while but as you can see the Charles Jencks landforms below are holding up quite well to the drought.

Jupiter Artland, Charles Jencks Landforms

In the distance you can just see the three bridges which span the Firth of Forth in the photo below.

Three Bridges from Jupiter Artland

I must admit that I’m not that enamoured with some of the art on offer here but it’s a lovely place to walk around and when it got too hot we just headed for the surrounding woodland for the shade. I wasn’t too impressed with this ‘bomb’ below, but each to their own.

Jupiter Artland, Bomb Sculpture

I didn’t really think much of the Tracey Emin sculpture below either, but Jack quite liked it. He took some of these photos.

I Lay Here For You at Jupiter Artland

You won’t be surprised to know that I was more impressed by the garden which surrounds what was the separate ballroom of the ‘big hoose’ where the owners of the Artland still live.

Jupiter Artland Ballroom Garden

The ballroom houses some of the Tracey Emin paintings, you can see some here but the link is really better for showing the inside of the ballroom. The artwork is ‘parental advisory’, and Emin seems to have just one thing on her mind at the moment, these paintings are all very recent, done after her radical cancer surgery.

Below is the garden gate. I love the design of the grass intersected by paviors.

Ballroom Garden gate, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

And through the gate you can see one of those lit up signs similar to the ones at Modern 1 and 2 in Edinburgh. I find those ones a bit depressing.

You Imagine What You Desire, Jupiter Artland

Ballroom Garden, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

And below is the ballroom building which at the moment houses part of their Tracy Emin exhibition, we didn’t stay long, but as ever admired the interior decor.

Ballroom, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

The ceiling looks like an intricately iced wedding cake, upside-down.

, Edinburgh

I did quite like the very large metal structure below which is called Firmament. For some reason there are no information boards about the artworks but there was on the map we were given at the entrance. Firmament is by Antony Gormley. There are info boards in areas where art used to be located but has been moved on, telling what used to be there.

Firmament, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

Way off in the distance we could see a tower and it turned out to be the rose walk below. It’s made of wood, I don’t know how well it’s going to weather Scottish winters, but it looks very elegant now. It would be a lovely place to get married I think. Oops, I’m in this one which Jack took.

Jupiter Artland, The Rose Walk,

All of the roses are white but you can’t really see them in the photos.

Jupiter Artland, The Rose Walk, Jupiter Artland

The heleniums below were enjoying the heat and sunshine. This path surrounds the pond.

Helenium , Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

We had a walk around the nature pond, if you look carefully you should be able to see the swans with their three cygnets.

Pond 2 Swans, Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland is on the outskirts of Edinburgh and is close to the flightpath for the airport. Below I managed to capture an aeroplane on my phone, as it flew over the Jencks landform.

Landform + Plane, Jupiter Artland

Then it was time for lunch at the cafe, which was very good. It was the perfect way to celebrate 46 years of annoying each other!

Barbara Hepworth at Modern Two in Edinburgh

We try to do something different at least one day every weekand last week we visited the Modern Two Gallery in Edinburgh to see the Barbara Hepworth exhibition . It’s on until the 2nd of October, we enjoyed it so much we might even go to see it again!

It’s all so tactile and huggable, but obviously you aren’t allowed to touch anything.

Ovoid, Barbara Hepworth Sculpture

Dyad by Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture like one at Stromness

Orpheus by Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth Sculptures

She also did traditional watercolours in her earlier years as you can see below.

Barbara Hepworth Watercolours

As you can see from the photo below of her standing beside one of her works, some of it is absolutely enormous, monumental I suppose you might say.

Anyway, Jack was taking the photos on this visit and somehow missed some of my favourites, so I think we definitely will be making a return visit. I am just in awe of her as she managed to work at the same time as looking after her four small children. After she had one son, then she had triplets with her second husband, the artist Ben Nicholson, two girls and another boy!

Photo of Barbara Hepworth, Beside a Sculpture of Hers

Sadly she died in a fire at her studio in Cornwall. You can read about her life here.

The Queen’s Gallery, Holyrood, Edinburgh

Earlier in the week we visited Edinburgh so that we could go to the Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace Exhibition. The art on show had all been acquired by British monarchs and the information cards by each painting say which monarch had bought it.

You can have a virtual tour of the exhibition here.

Judith with the Head of Holofernes, painted by Cristofano Allori (1577-1621,) was bought by Charles I. I had to look up Holofernes and apparently he was Nebuchadnezzar’s general. When I saw that it was Charles I who bough this one I said to Jack that it was just as well he didn’t know what his own fate was going to be! Later that night I was watching a TV programme about Hampton Court and it was mentioned that it was partly Charles I’s habit of buying artworks that got him into trouble as the amount of money he was spending on them had made him very unpopular. I’m not surprised as a lot of the paintings in this exhibition were his.

The virtual tour is a bit difficult to navigate at first, but it’s worth persevering with it.

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Aberlemno Pictish Stones, Angus, Scotland

When we were up in Aberdeenshire a few weeks ago we took the time to visit some of the standing stones in the area. Actually we drove into rural Angus from Aberdeenshire. The information board below is in Aberlemno. There is one large stone in the churchyard and some others on the edge of a nearby road.

Info Board Churchyard Cross

Aberlemno, Board Pictish stones

As you can see one side of the stone is Christian. The stones date from around the 800s AD,

Churchyard Cross, Aberlemno, Aberdeenshire, Pictish cross

but the other side of it has been carved with men and horses, more usual Pictish symbols.

Aberlemno Churchyard Cross

The stone below is the back of the one underneath it, the Roadside Cross.

Aberlemno Stone  reverse, Aberdeenshire, Pictish stone, standing stone

Aberlemno Stone, standing stone, Pictish, Aberdeenshire

Aberlemno Stones, The Roadside Cross Information Board

There is a very faint design on the stone below but it has not fared so well as the others. I find it amazing that the rough weather of the north-east of Scotland hasn’t eroded them all completely though. Many of the headstones in the churchyard that are just a few hundred years old aren’t in the best of condition.

Aberlemno Stone, Pictish, standing stone, Aberdeenshire

Aberlemno Stone , the Crescent Stone, standing stone, Aberdeenshire

Aberlemno Stone , standing stone, Pictish, Aberdeenshire

Information Board, the Serpent Stone, Aberlemno

Reflections – John Henry Lorimer Exhibition – City Art Centre Edinburgh

Last Wednesday I realised that there was an art exhibition on at the Edinburgh City Art Centre featuring the work of John Henry Lorimer. He had a wonderful way with light and shadow, but prior to this exhibition I had only really seen his Spring Moonlight before which is probably the most famous painting at Kirkcaldy Art Gallery.

spring moonlight

You can read more about him and the talented Lorimer family here. If you’re interested that link has lots of links to click for more information.

Jack took quite a few photos at the exhibition and you can see them at his blogpost here.