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.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

It really felt like spring was on its way when I visited the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh on Saturday. It was busy, maybe the sun had brought people out, but there were quite a lot of tourists around who would have been there whatever the weather I suppose, they were mainly American and German I think. Entry to the Botanics is free, which seemed to puzzle some people, but they do recommend a donation of £3.

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

It seems to me that the gardens are quite sheltered, which could explain the early flowering of some of the rhododendrons, but there are still many that haven’t bloomed, I think I’ll visit again in a couple of weeks. The daffodils at the east gate will be over by then though, I think I saw them at their peak on Saturday.

Royal Garden,Botanics ,Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

My favourite area is the rock garden, in recent times it has been tweaked so that there is some wheelchair access but in general most of the paths are made up of stone steps.

Rock Garden, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

There’s a burn/stream rushing through the rock garden which begins with a small but powerful waterfall.

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

As you wouldexpect there are some great trees in the garden.

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburghs

From some parts of the botanics you can see the spires and roofs of some of the buildings in central Edinburgh, not too far away, but the photo I took was too blurry.

While I was there Jack was at a football match nearby, Dumbarton beat Spartans 6-2 (it’s not like them) so a good day was had by all.

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.


Saint Giles’s Cathedral

My brother, the one who was the Scottish soldier in my previous post about the Queen – Elizabeth the Great as she is sometimes being called now – suggested that we might need our heads examined when he phoned me tonight from the Netherlands and I told him that we had been in the queue to get into Saint Giles’s to pay respects to the Queen. But it seemed like the right thing to do, although it’s something I would never have imagined I would have done. But that brief glimpse we got of the hearse when we were on the motorway bridge near Kinross as she travelled down from Aberdeenshire to Edinburgh didn’t seem like enough.

St Giles's Cathedral at Night.

We knew that we wouldn’t be allowed to take any photos in the cathedral and I must admit that when it said on the radio news that the queues were so long we might have to shuffle along for as much as seven hours before getting into the catherdral, I assumed that would be an exaggeration, it was slightly, it turned out we were in the queue for five hours. Luckily it was a dry night, otherwise we would have given up I think. We weren’t alone, thirty-three thousand other people felt the need too. The photo below shows a small part of the queue snaking though the Meadows in Edinburgh. We were about an hour in by that point.

Queue In The Meadows Edinburgh

It was 3.30 am before we got in there for our four minutes or so, but it was certainly an experience, there was nobody in tears, it was just very dignified and serene. But still, as we left, I couldn’t stop myself from looking back a few times, it still seemed unreal.

This photo from the television coverage was taken before we left for St Giles’s.

Queen at Rest in St Giles's Cathedral

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

Christian Aid Book Sale haul

Last week the St Andrew’s and St George’s Church in Edinburgh held their Christian Aid book sale, it had been cancelled for the last few years due to the Covid pandemic, so we were quite keen to get there, something different to do for a change. Saturday was actually sunny and quite warm – for Edinburgh – and the sale was very busy, they have a lot of tables full of books outside the church, it felt quite safe but we still wore face masks. Inside the church was even busier, that’s where they have the more unusual or rare books, so they tend to be more expensive. Outside it was £3 for hardbacks and £1 or £2 for paperbacks. This was the 50th anniversary of their first book sale there, I spoke to the woman who was the convenor and had been at the first sale which had been teeny wee!

Booksale Books

Anyway, my haul was:

1. The Diary of a Farmer’s Wife 1796-1797.
2. The Unjust Skies by R.F. Delderfield
3. The Small Army by Michael Marshall
4. Visitors from England by Elisabeth Kyle
5. Spiderweb by Penelope Lively
6. An Orkney Tapestry by George Mackay Brown
7. Life and Work of the People of England (The Eighteenth Century) I bought it because of the cover!
8. Scottish Painting 1837 to the present
9. To Lie with Lions by Dorothy Dunnett

Jack bought one book by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin. That’s about the normal book buying ratio for us.

I forgot to put An Orkney Tapestry in the photo since I’m reading it at the moment and it wasn’t in the pile.

William Morris Exhibition, Dovecote Studios, Edinburgh

On Saturday we visited the Dovecote Studios in Edinburgh, which is “A landmark centre for contemporary art, craft and design built around a leading international tapestry studio”. At the moment they have a William Morris exhibition on. I really like his designs although I don’t think that I would want an entire room done out in one. Years ago I had a friend (now deceased) who had one of his very dark designs in her back living room which was dark at the best of times. It was like sitting in a coal hole! I do have ‘The Strawberry Thief’ curtains in our bedroom though, with a nice duck egg blue background.

William Morris pattern,

William Morris patterns

William Morris

I think this might be the third coming of William Morris in my adult lifetime, he was all the rage in the 1970s and every 20 or 25 years or so he seems to be taken out and dusted down. It’s quite a large exhibition which features mainly framed samples of his designs and designs by some other people around at the time.

William Morris patterns

Some of the woodblocks used in the printing process were on display.

printing block

They had little room ‘sets’ which featured some of the contemporary fabric which can be bought today. That Willow leaf design which is covering the long stool always makes me think of Mary in Gogglebox!

William Morris textiles

William Morris textiles

William Morris textiles

It’s definitely worth seeing, although unfortunately you have to pay to see the exhibition. it was my first visit to the Dovecote Studios and our 14 month old granddaughter Isobel enjoyed getting out of her buggy and stretching her legs. Her favourites were the more colourful designs. Sadly the cafe was full up – well it was a Saturday. It seemed quite weird being back in a busy city location again after avoiding such places. I think it will be a long time before I think of removing my mask in such locations – if ever.

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh – part 2

Here we are back at the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh again, inside this time. As you can see the bedroom below is the King’s Bedchamber which is hung with tapestries, has a wonderfuly ornate ceiling and Dutch delft tiles around the fireplace. Most of the rooms in this palace are fairly small by royal standards.

Royal Bed, Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh, Scotland

On the video guide Princess Anne explained that people often assume that it must be a horrible place to have to stay in, considering that there has been at least one murder there with Rizzio having been stabbed to death (I bet there were more murders than that one!) But she tells them that it has a nice homely atmosphere. I must admit that I have my doubts about the ‘bloodstain’ in the photo below, it look a wee bit too bright for something not far off 500 years old, but there’s no doubt that this is where the deed took place. If you’re interested in the history of the palace have a look here.

Rizzio's 'bloodstain', Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland

Sadly a lot of our photos didn’t come out well due to the dim lighting to preserve the tapestries and soft furnishings, they look blurred like the two below. Obviously you aren’t allowed to use a flash.

Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh

King's Room, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

Below is a painting of King James VI.

James VI + fireplace, Holyrood House, Edinburgh

I’m sure that the dining room is used when the Queen visits this palace, usually she stays here and does some entertaining and has garden parties before continuing on to her holiday home in the Highlands – Balmoral.

Dining Table, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Some of the paintings in the Long Gallery below were damaged after the Jacobite Rebellion, presumably by Cumberland’s troops but they’ve been well patched up. Someone called these long galleries ‘treason rooms’ as they are the only spaces where people of a treasonous nature could talk without the danger of being overheard. When ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ took possession of this palace in 1745 he held a grand ball. I think it would have been held in this room, unless there is a ballroom which is not open to the public. There’s a secret door in the panelling!

Long Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

I could have quite happily sat down to soak up the atmosphere, but I don’t think that would have gone down well with the attendants who I must mention were almost all young women and wearing wonderful kilts which looked to me to be men’s kilts, certainly they folded over on the male side anyway. Sadly I don’t have a photo of them as I don’t think that would have gone down well either.

Palace of Holyroodhouse,Tapestry , Edinburgh

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland

A couple of weeks ago we decided to visit Holyrood Palace, in Edinburgh, I had only peered at it through the railings previously. As usual it’s the places nearby that get overlooked while we concentrated on visiting far-flung places.

Holyrood Palace gates, Edinburgh, Scotland
Below is a stitch of the palace which is more correctly called the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Holy rood of course means holy cross.
Fountain, Holyrood Palace stitch
As you can see the architecture is of the Scots Baronial type which was influenced by French and Italian architecture.

entranceway Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

Entrance, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland

The photo below is of the courtyard in the centre of the building, it’s a lovely green space to look out onto.
Holyrood Palace Courtyard , Edinburgh, Scotland

It all seemed quite empty at this point but when we got inside there seemed to be far too many people in the smallish rooms. I think I would even have felt that if there had not been an ongoing pandemic, some of them had obviously just come off planes! Anyway, we seem to have survived and I’ll blog about some of those rooms tomorrow!