In between looking for a new job I’ve been trying to keep myself busy (doing some more reviews for different places, sadly not paying ones though, those are very had to get hold of now), and going out to make sure I don’t spend too much time at home alone (way, way to easy to brood and let the little black voice hold sway). So after scouring the job sites this morning again (fruitlessly) I headed out to the Royal Scottish Academy to take in the Rembrandt exhibition with a chum, and I am glad I did.
The exhibition had a number of works, from small sketches and some of his print work to his famous portraits, later works influenced by Rembrandt, and of course those amazing self-portraits. The latter are still astonishing, centuries on, not just for the raw humanity they show, painted at different eras of the artist’s life, but for the remarkable techniques, the sense of three dimensional reality. Seeing the original painting of this one above was just magical, the sense of a real person, even the textures – I had to restrain the urge to run my fingers across the section depicting his cap, it looked as if you could actually feel the velvet (naturally I didn’t, the gallery wouldn’t care for that). Some works just retain their power across the centuries…
Saint John’s Church on Princes Street has been painting large murals commenting on social and moral problems for many years. It’s been a little while since I saw a new one, but noticed today a fresh one had been painted, celebrating the diversity of multi-cultural Scottish society and timed to coincide with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year – in an especially nice touch the figure on the upper right pays homage to Raeburn’s 18th century painting of the Reverend Robert Walker ice-skating on Duddingston Loch in Edinburgh, now famous as the symbol of the National Galleries of Scotland:
For only a few days starting this week to mark Chinese New Year, there’s a wonderful art installation by Xia Nan. Originally created for the Bejing Olympics and now touring the world, they are inspired by the famous Terracotta Warriors but here they are done like Chinese paper lanterns.
The artist decided that the original Terracotta Warriors were a bit lonely, so for these paper lantern sculptures he also gave them some wives and kids to go along with them – including a pregnant wife as you can see in this one above. A trio at the back must have been more important than the others, they had their own raised platform above the others, and with the lights they cast these huge shadows over the old stonework:
The exhibition is in the quadrangle of the historic Old College building of Edinburgh University each evening for just a week or so (handily right across the road from my work, just strolled right over after finishing up). Beautiful location and what a magical sight to see on those long, cold, dark winter nights, glowing in the darkness. I noticed the other day that I’d had a huge spike in views on Flickr, with two photos I’d taken of this exhibition especially going bananas. In fact the one below had just under 3000 views in a single 24 hour period, turned out it had been put into a gallery on Flickr of photos celebrating Chinese New Year, resulting in a huge number of views in a brief period, which was quite rewarding (click on the pics to see the larger versions on my Flickr):
I enjoyed a visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery this afternoon, the first time I have been in for years as it was closed until recently for a huge refurbishment. Many spots now much more open and lighter, including the nice room they have an old friend of mine, in an old favourite from before the refurbishment, Sandy Moffat’s Poet’s Pub. Always loved this piece depicting some of the most important and influential writers of mid 20th century Scottish culture (including, as you can see on the far right, Captain Picard!). In the new display room it is in an airy, light filled space with a comfortable big padded seat right in front of it so you can sit there and regard it, with a touchscreen interface angled into the armrest so you can tap it for more information while sitting comfortably in front of the painting, touching the individual writers lets you hear them reading some of their own work in their own voice. Lovely.
The work itself is a composite as they were never all in the same pub at the same time and the location itself is a combination of elements from three different Edinburgh pubs, the Abbotsford, The Cafe Royale and Milnes. All still exist, although sadly Milnes these days is an awful chain-operated place with lousy service that I long since gave up on (complaints to company who runs it made it clear they never gave a damn about standards or customers so sod them), although the Royale and Abbotsford are still firm favourites of mine. In fact I was in the Abbotsford just a few nights ago and bumped into a number of contemporary Scottish writers I know, including two of our bestsellers, Ian and Iain:
I do like this image, a sketch by the excellent Molly Crabapple, part of a series of sketches entitled “Faces From Occupied Wall Street”. Speaks volumes – if only the media here were giving it a bit more of the attention it deserves. And if only someone were doing a similar Occupy The Square Mile in the City of London to show these banking numpties what we think of them.
I spotted this art installation by Astrid Jaekel on my wanderings around the massive cultural explosion that is the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe recently, the artworks placed into a series of windows in a building at the top of the curving descent of Victoria Street which leads down from George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket below the Castle.
When I stopped to enjoy them and look more closely I couldn’t help but think that these pictures with texts in each window were like a sequential graphical story, basically a short comic strip but one placed on architecture rather than on paper, with window frames rather than inked borders, a comic strip about city life being told right on one of the city’s buildings. I was quite taken with it, so had to stop and take a picture of each and share them on here with you, certainly made me pause and smile. On the artist’s site Astrid explains that the older inhabitants are leaning out of their windows looking – often disapprovingly – at the revellers of the Festival. Astrid also advises passing by after dark (which tends to be rather late in Scotland at this time of year) when it is illuminated from within, making it look as if the building’s older residents are keeping an eye on the boisterous Fringe goers as they go from venue to venue, doubtless with several pub stops between shows… (pics from my Flickr, the art is (c) Astrid Jaekel, click to see the larger versions):
New artwork up on the side of Saint John’s church in Edinburgh and as with many of their previous works commenting on social and political issues it is bang on the money. I do appreciate their murals and the messages they send and that they are placed facing right onto busy Princes Street in the shadow of the Castle, where thousands can see it. I suspect many are too busy with their face buried in sending text messages to even notice, but I hope a few do see it and think… Always enjoy their artworks and appreciate them, you can find several more photos of previous works here on the Woolamaloo Flickr. St John’s is also a lovely wee oasis of calm in the middle of the city, even for us non believers – there’s a lovely cafe in the crypt (in the summer some tables are outside right by some of the old graves!) and a fine fairtrade shop as well, always a nice vibe around this church. During the Festival in August they hold an annual craft fair with the stalls strung throughout the old, tree-shaded graveyard, where you can walk around the stalls sometimes accompanied by the pealing of bells from their nearby neighbour Saint Cuthbert’s.
Caught the viewing of the Prints of Darkness album cover art exhibition in the Edinburgh Printmaker’s Studio after work and got to meet local comics creator Malcy Duff in person for the first time (I’ve reviewed several of Malcy’s comics over the years but never actually met him in person); I had no problem recognising which art in the gallery came from Malcy, unsurprisingly. The exhibition runs until the 4th of September in the Studio’s gallery in Union Street, nice and handy from the city centre .
(Malcy Duff with some of his art on the wal behind him – I’m used to reading Malcy’s comics work, was quite odd to see it on a gallery wall. Gee, now it must be officially Art!! Pic from my Flickr)
Happy Bastille Day – vive la revolution! This is the fancy cover on a bottle of wine in my local French deli/restaurant, the fine La Marche Francais in Edinburgh’s Haymarket, that caught my eye one day while in getting some nice wine and cheese and they were nice enough to let me take my ever-present camera out and fire off a couple of snaps, so I thought it seemed appropriate to post today for the Fête Nationale.
The new artwork on the side of Saint John’s church in Edinburgh makes a nice comment on the greedy pigs-in-the-trough mentality of so many of the right dishonourable Members of Parliament who’ve been caught with their sticky trotters in the cookie jar, grabbing every bit of tax payer’s money they could rip off.