My liking for train travel is well documented, I have been reminded of this during lockdown by two separate emails, both from subscriber lists.
The National Railway Museum in York is a fascinating destination for normal times, I have mentioned before the thrill of sharing the same space as these leviathans of steam power. I am always delighted to see large reproductions of the classic rail travel posters, deliberately evocative and romantic. Whilst neither term would describe train travel just now, I was none the less intrigued to see a re-imagination of these artworks, on the Museum’s website. Sample below gives a flavour of this.
From Waterstone’s bookshop (other bookshops are available) came news of a new train travel opus, which looks like a grand way to escape the current everyday for a few hours. Review here – no prizes for originality in the article title, but oh, how different it must be from the 07:09 to Edinburgh Waverley.
Aberdour beach just before sunset in February, after a long week at work.
Saw this exhibition yesterday, small but interesting (who said eclectic?) collection of paintings by the Glasgow Boys, including Arthur Melville, E A Hornel, George Henry and William J Kennedy. Fife has some wonderful artworks to behold, in amongst the various legacies of mining, farming, fishing and Royal politics.
We also hope to visit Lumen, site specific light installations in Edinburgh. A lumen, as we all know, is a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source. It’s Latin for light. *
This song has nothing to do with light, except perhaps its seasonal absence.
*On the same dictionary page, lumpen as in proletariat, from Germanic Lumpus, a rag. And lunette, from lunus, which is the official name for the middle of the hairline at the back of your neck. And you thought it meant spectacles on a stick. Ha.
To Kirkcaldy, thence to attend the opening of the latest exhibition curated by Fife Contemporary Art & Craft, Limomolum, which we spent all morning practising saying, only to find out that the whole point is that you can’t say it. Further down the road, after excellent tea, coffee, wee cake and quick chat with Diana, we found an appropriate commemoration outside Fife Council Chambers. What an interesting example of public architecture that building is. I support most varieties of interpretation, I consider graffiti to be a valid medium of expression and I heartily applaud the prospect of a citizenship spire in Dunfermline, having viewed the artwork around the proposal earlier this week – catch it here. But, as for the edifice otherwise known as Kirkcaldy Town House – jury is out as far as the metal superstructure goes, I’m afraid. All views my own.
Before that, we went to St David’s Harbour, since both of us were in need of a decent walk. Some examples of urban street art are noted below, whilst, O unbridl’d joy, our first arctic tern of the year, alongside an oyster catcher, a black headed gull and a flock of little ringed plovers. Our unalloyed pleasure was slightly tempered by that fact I had to listen to Paul singing “Torn between two plovers, feeling like a fool”, but, into each life a little rain yada yada .
We found some quietude yesterday by heading for the busiest part, Edinburgh’s Christmas markets etc have been super busy due to the reasonably fair weather, security staff are ensuring that only a limited amount of folk gain access. However, as Paul had appointments booked with his groom squad, we went in anyway. Upstairs at my private club, aka the Portrait Gallery, some fascinating exhibitions drew only a few visitors, while the morning sunlight painted the stairwells. The café is still not too busy between 10 and 11, I can heartily applaud the scones here, if you’re a stranger to BTW that might be news to you.
We walked over to the Botanics to see After The Storm, an exhibition of furniture made from trees which were blown down in the January storms of 2012. If I could have afforded the price tags I would have bought every piece, well worth a visit. The gardens too were fairly quiet, although by no means deserted, and the big fella in the red suit and white beard was at home, happily delighting or terrifying your child for a minimum fee. We admired the decorations in the shop, in what seems to be a trend this year, foliage is fitted onto mannequins to form the clothing, and the usual baubles are the embellishments. There were also reindeer models which were a bit too lifelike for me…
The inaugural AAT was held on Sunday, I am not putting the full description here because it will just draw traffic from search bots. Suffice to say, it was won handsomely by Emily Sanderson, with a gallant runner up in Julia Sanderson. Diana, Caroline and Nigel took the Mary & Paul rôles (harsh but fair, I felt ) and then we all had too much cake. And scones.
This week I have been fortunate to see some new exhibitions, which have reminded me of some other favourites. In Stirling at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum I found the most gorgeous watercolours by Darren Woodhead, his commissions from his tenure as artist in residence with the IFLI are truly epic depictions of the wildlife around Culross, Kincardine and Longannet, an area long held to be of Special Scientific Interest, indeed my friend Sherry conducted her final year dissertation research here and I have just about got over walking through that field of cows with her nearly 40 years ago. That IFLI is worth keeping an eye on if you live nearby, many interesting projects are going on, not least the development of the new RSPB site south of Alloa, Black Devon Sands.
Anyway, I found the other exhibition at the Smith, by artists of the Royal Watercolour Society, to be equally engaging, being a range and diversity of styles but overall a fine and eclectic selection. In the café I was deeply privileged to be mainly ignored by Oscar Clingan-Smith, cat in residence, snoozing quietly and no doubt dreaming up his next post on his Twitter feed. I refocused on the wall panels about sewing communities. Browsing Oscar’s musings later, I inevitably ended up on something else, this time the page of Glasgow Print Studio which boasts amongst others a new print by John Byrne and the exquisite detail of Fiona Watson. The amazing bird work on here of course took me back to Barbara Franc and I make no apologies for repeating the link to her site here.
After a fascinating tour backstage at the Royal Lyceum Theatre yesterday, we took a short walk to the Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art (One and Two) , there to see the Surrealism exhibition. I think I need to do a lot more research on the Dada movement to be able to understand it better, and I have always felt slightly lacking when faced with the cerebral thunder of Picasso and Dali, but it was well attended and I liked the Magrittes. The real surprise was the dander along Belford Road and Lynedoch Place. Since this is a cul de sac now, with bollards at the east end, we have never driven along it, but there are gems of architecture, plus a secret swimming club. I need to find out if Paul gleaned any more about the house with the Scottish symbols pressed into the plaster work. The ochre coloured buildings will be the ones in Bell’s Brae where my friend used to live.
A scone was devoured in SNGOMA One café, spicy fruit, pretty darn good, as was, vicariously, the cherry Bakewell. The Scottish National Galleries frankly ask you to pay to be their Friend but it’s one of the bargains of Edinburgh, free fast track admin to exhibitions and money off scones. AND, this year, a free shopping bag designed by John Byrne. HINT: membership of the Chamber Street Museum also gives you money off in the shop. Just saying. *
We also dropped into the Union Gallery on Drumsheugh Place, where we saw works by, among others, Jenny Matthews and Barbara Franc. Lost a piece of my heart to the latter’s tin birds and the former’s flower paintings.
*I forgot that we were given a free book in the Portrait Gallery earlier, so that remark was unnecessary.
Nunc dimittis. Time to move on and enjoy something new, once that something has a shape, form and name.
In the meantime, I have been out and about, in the unseasonable sunshine. We were in Glasgow for the Steve Vai gig, same night as Springsteen so the town was hoachin’. Little Stevie Vai was terrific and I gather the Boss was too.
Last night we went to Botanic Night, or Lights, I can’t remember which, but it is a light show at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, with a kinetic sculpture on the loch and on the rear of Inverleith House. It felt all quite magical and other worldly, most people were very taken by it (one woman was loudly phoning a restaurant to book a table, honestly, no sense of place). Two wee boys were dressed as Batman and jumped out from the pools of light around the trees saying “Happy Hallowe’en!”, which made me smile, and there were lots of douce Edinburghers too, all in the pouring rain.
In other news, good gig with the Mincers at DB Sailing Club last weekend, excellent new-to-us band Bruce and Walker at the Folk Club, and the realisation is dawning that I really must start thinking about Christmas.
Pollok park in Glasgow to be precise, where Paul and I went to join a five mile sponsored walk in aid of Parkinson’s UK last Sunday. If you have missed my mumbled appeals for sponsorship you can still support us by clicking on this link.
We’d never been here before so we went across to the city on Saturday to look around. It’s a beautiful park with police dogs, heavy horses, Highland cattle, the White Cart water, ponds, arboretums ducks and half the dogs in town walking their humans. The Burrell Collection is also situated here – they seem to be having issues with water ingress just now so I hope that is remedied soon, as I would have liked to see the paintings.
Playlist for the walk in case I was flagging
After that, it was back to the hotel in Glasgow, via Buchanan Street. For various reasons we had to check out of one room and into another. Usually this sort of event is a recipe for disaster but all praise to the staff, they handled it effortlessly and we were given a room upgrade. Free slippers ! Free drinks and canapés! Free breakfast! Free 30p newspaper! All of which was grand, so we tarted ourselves up and scooted across to the Hydro because of course, gentle readers, it was time for the gig of the year so far, the Elbows were in town. A jolly evening was had by all. We fans are all agreed that they are just the business. We rounded off the event with a swim the next morning and then a visit to the IMAX to see Galapagos in 3D.