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.

National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, North Berwick, part 2

The National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, North Berwick is home to commercial aeroplanes as well as military ones, and most of those ones you can actually board and have a look around.

Below is a Dan Air Comet.

Comet
Its interior.
Comet interior

And its cockpit.

Comet Cockpit

A British Airways BAC 1-11

Bac 1-11

Now I have to admit that I had never heard of Sheila Scott, but she flew solo around the world in 1966, in 33 days in her ‘plane Myth Too.
Sheila Scott

It’s a Piper Comanche and as you can see from the photo it’s quite bashed up, but this damage was inflicted on Myth Too by the man that it was sold to! You would think she would want to hold onto that ‘plane but maybe she needed to sell it to buy another one.
Sheila Scott's Piper Comanche

And now for Concorde.
Concorde

Concorde Nose

Concorde’s engines and fuselage.
Concorde Engines + Fuselage

Jack standing underneath Concorde.
Concorde

Concorde’s interior.
Concorde Interior

Concorde Interior

And Concorde’s cockpit which I have to say looks absolutely terrifying to me.
Concorde Cockpit

This Concorde had to have its wings temporarily removed when it was put on a barge on the Thames as part of its journey to East Fortune, the landing strips there aren’t quite long enough for Concorde to be able to fly there. You can see the photos here.

You can read about it here.

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

RRS Discovery at Dundee

I love ships and there’s something special about lovely old wooden sailing ships and all that rigging, but I can’t imagine ever being brave enough to actually set sail in one – on a long journey anyway. Those chaps who sailed off to explore the Antarctic were incredible. The Royal Research Ship Discovery was launched in 1901.

Mast & lifeboat

Going aboard Discovery the first thing that you notice is the mushroom vents which are fitted on the decks, they’re the equivalent of skylights in a house roof and bring daylight and fresh air below decks, but they’re chunky (well they had to be) and they’re terrible obstacles for anyone getting about on deck, in fact they were nick-named ankle grinders by the crew. There are no portholes in the ship’s hull as they would have weakened the structure.

Mushroom vents

Going down into the hold I was surprised at how small it feels, considering they had to take so much with them in the way of stores.

Store room on RRS Discovery

Below Deck

Equipment Room

The actual living accommodation is quite stylish in an Edwardian sort of a way, with lovely wooden panelling, a bit gentlemen’s club-ish. It was a time when people knew their place in society though so although the officers had really comfortable looking cabins, complete with hanging bookshelves and a dining room the accommodation for the ‘men’ was basic. They just had hammocks slung up in the mess room, eating, sleeping and relaxing (if they ever could) in the same place.
Mess Room
The officers’ wardroom is in the middle of the ship with the officers’ cabins situated just off the room as you can see in the photo below.

Wardroom

I was quite taken with the officers cute wee rooms until I was told that they were the coldest part of the ship and the mattresses regularly froze up as they slept in them.
Officer's Quarters
Captain Scott’s cabin is very comfortable looking.
Scott's Quarters

Shackleton’s cabin below isn’t quite so plush.
Shackleton's Quarters

They had a gramophone player and a harmonium for entertainment, the harmonium is in the exhibition centre and is behind glass, presumably so that people can’t have a go of it. I was amused to see that the cast iron pedals say ‘mouse proof’ on them. It’s impossible to see that with all the reflections though. I suppose that harmonium bellows were made from leather which was apt to be gnawed by rodents.

Harmonium
They also wrote their own newspaper articles – for The South Polar Times – to keep their spirits up, some of them drew cartoons, it was all very light-hearted in a black humorous sort of way. When they got back home they were printed and bound with a very small amount of copies being published. They put on plays and shows with the men inevitably getting togged out in women’s clothing.
South Polar Times

Discovery cost £51,000 to build which is the equivalent of £4.1 million in modern currency. She did have a coal-fired steam engine but relied mainly on sail as they didn’t have enough storage space for the amount of coal required for a long voyage.

The Antarctic expeditions weren’t only about staking a claim on the territory for Britain, they also conducted important science experiments and made great discoveries.
Science Space

RRS Discovery at Dundee

One day last week we decided to make our first ever visit to
RRS Discovery which is permanently berthed at Dundee. It’s the ship that took Scott and Shackleton on their first expedition to Antarctica.

We only live about 15 miles from Dundee and have often driven past Discovery but as both boys went on school trips to visit it seemed silly to take them again, so this was our first visit. The city of Dundee advertises itself as Dundee – City of Discovery which is quite smart as not only is it linked with the ship but it’s also known for the high standard of research that goes on at the Universities and Ninewells Hospital.

RRS Discovery bow part

I love ships in general but getting to go on board Discovery was a real treat. It seems amazing that she is so small but travelled all the way to the Antarctic braving all that ice. She was built in Dundee and that’s why she is berthed there now. The Dundee shipyard was chosen to build her because they were experienced at building whaling ships (it was different times) so they knew how to build incredibly strong ships. Below is a photo of the way Discovery was put together for maximum strength.

Structure of wooden sailing ships

We took loads of photos especially of the cramped space below decks, but I’ll leave that post for another day. In the photo below you can see the newly completed building which is the Scottish outpost of the V&A which is yet to open, I can hardly wait!

Discovery and V&A 2

The International Style of Muriel Spark at the National Library in Edinburgh

Light show

Yesterday we went up to Edinburgh for several reasons, the first one being to visit the Muriel Spark Exhibition on at the National Library of Scotland. It’s the centenary of her birth. When we got there I was disappointed to see that although they usually encourage people to take photographs they weren’t allowing it in this exhibition for copyright reasons apparently. She was born in Edinburgh but of course spent many years living abroad, mainly in Italy. Well the weather there would have been enticing apart from anything else.

Light show

It’s such a shame that you can’t take photos as Spark seems to have been a hoarder from an early age so there are even jotters from her schooldays of poetry she had written and a school magazine that she had poems published in. She saw herself as a poet despite writing so many novels.

She was a bit of a party animal and corresponded with lots of famous people that she had made friends with including Graham Greene, Doris Lessing, John Updike, Christopher Fry, Miriam Margolyes, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave and even the then Prime Minister Harold MacMillan. There are letters or telegrams from them but the typewritten letter from Marie C. Stopes (the famous contraception for women pioneer) who wrote the book Married Love is a scream. Stopes was vice-president of the Poetry Society and she was incensed at Spark being made president. In her letter Stopes describes Spark as being impertinent to her and she demands to know if Spark had been divorced by her husband. Presumably Stopes didn’t think such a person was fit to be the president. Spark’s reply says that she has no intention of giving her any details of her divorce, implying that Stopes is a dirty old woman for wanting to know what she hopes are salacious details.

If you click on the link above you’ll be able to see some of the things in the exhibition, such as her ration card. There are a couple of her dresses, one a long dark grey silk dress and a lovely blue velvet dress which apparently features in one of her books, I can’t remember which.

If you’re keen on Muriel Spark it’s well worth visiting – if you’re not too far from Edinburgh anyway. There are lots of early copies of her books on display and I just realised that I have far more of her books to track down than I thought.

I think that like many writers Muriel Spark was odd, it’s hard not to feel for her son whom she seems to have abandoned at a very early age, later she was incensed by his devotion to Judaism as an adult – she had ditched that religion and opted to become a Roman Catholic. It looks like she had no maternal instincts which must have been painful for him.

Light show

The photographs are of images that were being projected onto the front of the National Library of Scotland.

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.

Enduring Eye – Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition Exhibition

Enduring Eye – is an exhibition at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. It’s about Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition and has been on since June but closes in a couple of weeks, we just got around to visiting it a couple of days ago. If you’re near Edinburgh and you’re interested in explorers and the Antarctic then you might find it interesting.

The photographs are amazingly clear and there’s even some film footage of Endurance breaking up as she was crushed by the ice. The expedition was from 1914 to 1917 and of course when they did get back from being marooned on Elephant Island for months the men had a lot of news to catch up with, World War 1 had barely started when they left Blighty.

You can see a lot of Frank Hurley‘s Endurance photographs here. He was an Australian and he went on to become a war photographer and took many of the iconic images of World War 1.

There are some artifacts on display too, but it’s really the photographs that are most interesting. You can see more photos here, mainly of the inside of the ship, showing what it was like for the men.

The 1951 Club

the 1951 club

I’ve read and blogged about quite a few books that were published in 1951 in recent years, so if you’re interested in my thoughts on them click on the titles.

A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor

The Wooden Overcoat by Pamela Branch

The Willow Cabin by Pamela Frankau

Cork on the Water by Macdonald Hastings

The Catherine Wheel by Patricia Wentworth

The Duke’s Daughter by Angela Thirkell

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols

Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer

School for Love by Olivia Manning

Of course 1951 was an important year in Britain as we had The Festival of Britain which went on for most of the year – or at least until the general election when Churchill became PM again and he saw the whole thing as being Socialist so he shut it all down – spoilsport!

But apparently the Festival was a life-saver for the people who had by then been suffering under austerity for years and years what with the war and even worse rationing post-war. It cheered people up no end to see the bright colours and modern designs, and was a great opportunity for artists, designers and makers.

Before I started blogging I read and enjoyed Festival at Farbridge by J.B. Priestley which was published in 1951 and has local events featuring the festival.

I blogged about the festival some years ago and if you’re interested you can see that post here.

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