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:
This reworking of Obama’s iconic election campaign poster to show his utter hypocrisy in being a Democratic leader presiding over a country where young teenage student girls get pepper sprayed in the face on their own campus simply for peacefully exercising their right to free assembly and speech, or signing legislation (and very sneakily doing it over New Year when he hoped most wouldn’t notice) that will make it possible for the authorities to arrest and detain not only those pesky foreign radicals and terrorists without proper judicial oversight or charges, but also US citizens. The Land of the Free my fecking arse in parsley sauce…I thought back at election time that the euphoria over Obama’s election was foolish – sure it was better than having Bush there but I thought the hopes people piled on his administration were unrealistic, not to mention foolish and sure enough he has disappointed endlessly since then. Sad to think at the next US election I wouldn’t prefer to see him re-elected because he deserves to be but simply because he is a lesser evil (just) of the rampantly right-wing, Tea Party numpties in the Republican Reptile Party… Sigh…
Recently I spotted a group of pretty talented young local schoolkids from the Gorgie-Dalry-Fountainbridge area working on a long mural by the steps leading down to the Telfer Subway next to the Fountainpark centre. I’d have liked to take pics as they were working on them but sadly these days taking any pic with youngsters in them seems to get you red-lighted as someone more evil than Hitler so I thought I’d avoid any problem and just wait till they finished (shame, would have been nice to document it when it was a work in progress too, but not worth the potential hassle these days). So been waiting for a decent day off when the sun was in the right position as I was passing so I could grab some pics – well done the kids and their art teacher, it’s a lovely, colourful visual treat for the area:
(looking up the stairs from the Telfer Subway towars the Fountainbridge Library)
(thought this looked like traditional British Green Man crossed with something Indian)
Love the snail!
And the pretty kitty
And there’s something almost Alasdair Gray about this one
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.
Recently it was the annual Doors Open Day in Edinburgh, when many buildings and institutions open their doors to the public, from the small to the very large, and I usually try to get along to several and of course where I go, so goes my camera. This was inside the Dovecot Studios, home to a working shared studio and gallery for artists working in textiles; remarkably it is in what was once a small, old swimming pool right round the corner from my work in the Old Town.
Weaver at work
If you want to spin a good yarn, here’s a good supply!
I loved these designs – I think they were based on designs from a competition with schoolkids – so lovely and simple and bright and effective.
Close up of the weaver at work.
I loved this spiral, netted fabric twisting down from the top of the stairs.
As I looked over from one corner in the main hall I saw the autumn light coming in through skylights creating this pattern of splashes of light and shadow, just as these two ladies paused in one sunbeam, so I zoomed in, switched to black and white and this was the result.
Another of the wonderful Jungle City sculptures all decorated by different artists, dotted all over the city for the last few weeks. This beautiful tiger was standing sentry outside Edinburgh’s City Chambers on the Royal Mile.
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.
A form of tryptich on the art board from the always interesting lot at the Saint John’s church on Princes Street, with three things the Roman Catholic Church has had problems with over its history (if they had picked everything the church has been prejudiced against, let alone violently opposed to they’d have needed a canvas longer than all of Princes Street), placed right in full view of where the Pope would go past in his recent and most unwelcome visit (why is the taxpayer funding a trip from a religious figure? It’s not a ‘state’ visit since the Vatican isn’t a real state but a religious theocracy holdover from medieval times. Why are we paying for a homophobic, bigoted, mysoginistic, anti-science, intolerant former Nazi to come to our country and then to insult us?).
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)