Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Official: Edinburgh Coldest Place on Earth

I've always had a great affection for Edinburgh. My Grandmother was born in Crammond, a little seaside village then just outside Edinburgh but now part of the city, and as a boy I spent many happy days staying with my "Auntie" Jessie (actually my Dad's aunt) in her flat overlooking Arthur's Seat.

This photograph from the family album shows me in August 1952, standing eating an ice cream cornet next to a sign saying PLEASE KEEP OFF THE GRASS - I guess I was always slightly rebellious.

Because of this love of Edinburgh, I'm always up for a stay there, so when a good offer of three nights became available, Pat and I decided we'd go. We travelled up on Tuesday last and came back on Friday. And all the time we were there I was freezing cold!

I expect it to be noticeably colder that little bit further north, and Edinburgh is certainly prone to strong winds blowing in off the Firth, but I wasn't prepared for the icy blasts blowing in from the west. None of my clothes proved adequate and I even had to pick up an extra M&S jumper from Princes Street (Thank you, Pat!). On Wednesday morning we had snow and on Thursday we got caught in a hailstorm.

But there are ways of staying warm, of course, not least the galleries, pubs and even the glasshouses of the Royal Botanic Garden. As well as the good selection of galleries down Dundas Street, we explored the area of Stockbridge for the first time, after walking down part of the Water of Leith Walkway.

At the The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art & Dean Gallery we had lunch (the Dean Gallery is the better of the two, I think, in terms of food - and there's table service) and then looked at the wonderful early 20th century photographs of August Sander and the Paolozzi Studio.

The National Gallery of Scotland were showing three rarely seen early Vermeers and a fascinating collection of French drawings.

The Open Eye, on the corner of Abercromby Place and Dundas Street, had a show of watercolours by the late Jack Firth RSW. Great fresh work. And I was able to pick up a facsimile of one of Leon Morrocco's sketchbooks - a real delight that made me want, yet again, to get back to that sketching habit.

The DiRollo Gallery. As its website says, it's friendly and sociable and when we visited they were showing some good new work by John V Gardner. I hope I may have made a friend there.

The Dundas Street Gallery is a hire gallery which I've never been in before, but I liked the look of the india ink drawings of Edinburgh by Jamie Primrose. We had a chat with him and I was delighted to find that he'd actually done his BA in Fine Art at Newcastle University at the same time as Andrew Gifford. Not so delighted to find that he shares my view of the standard of teaching there, even several years before I experienced it. By the time we left, it looked like his show had got off to a good start with quite a few sales.

In Stockbridge, we looked for and found the Laurel Gallery, a curious little one room gallery with a welcoming atmosphere. I'd wanted to find it because they were showing some work by David Body whose work I'd last seen on a day trip to Kirkcudbright, and I think it repaid the revisit.

Another tiny one room gallery we came across while looking for shelter from a freezing downpour, was the Sarah Dallas Gallery. Just as welcoming as the others and with some really excellent work by Sandra Moffat & Emerson Mayes.

Finally, there was Scotlandart.com, a good well-laid out gallery with stripped wood floors, very comfortable seating and showing a lot of very professional work. They have another gallery in Glasgow.

I came back with a renewed determination to get some work shown in Edinburgh and with a new knowledge of the dearth of paintings of Edinburgh in galleries there. Thoughts to dwell on. And act on.


Casey Klahn said...

It pleases me to get the back story on your intent to paint some Edinburgh works. I really look forward to seeing them.

This is a good post. I had to double check because I thought I was at another blogger who usually posts a B&W photo and then a cracking great essay. You have a talent for blogging, Harry. Well done.

BTW, it must have been plenty warm enough in 1952 when you were sporting short pants.

harry bell said...

Thanks, Casey. I've always liked writing, but sometimes I have a feeling I've underwritten my posts. This one seems to have struck the right balance.

Warm has nothing to do with it. In England in 1952, *every* boy my age wore short trousers, summer and winter.