Archive | July 2017

“New Growth”: Abstract, Conceptual and Figurative Paintings by Davy Macdonald. Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

Until this point of my artistic journey I have focussed predominately on figurative painting together with landscape and still life studies. I now find my art evolving in new directions and recently have become interested in the development of abstract and conceptual art”

Davy Macdonald

With his own unique and innovative series of artistic genres, Davy Macdonald has been exhibiting in Edinburgh and London since 2009.  He has specialised in figurative works set within an historic or cultural background for his excellent Heritage Series such as Harris Tweed and Herring Lassies. These are stunning, dramatic paintings which tell the story of the women who wove the wool, against a backdrop of wild Hebridean seascapes, as well as the iconic fisherwomen at Newhaven harbour, shucking oysters and salting herring.

New Growth

This exhibition, “New Growth” is a diverse and dramatic range of Figurative, Abstract and Conceptual work, which clearly show how he has developed his style with a renewed creative spirit. His fascination with history, as illustrated with his impressive narrative paintings, is also matched by an interest in mythology and symbolism.

Three Ways North, Davy Macdonald

A new departure is venturing into abstract paintings – bold, vibrant patterns which express a freedom of movement, colour and geometric shape. “3 Ways North”  is a humorous, quirky representation of a map with the sign North, shown in three positions. Hang the picture any which way, to view the landscape of meandering roads, undulating hills, where the eye follows the compass direction upwards, right and left.

Follow Davy on an artistic journey, real or imagined. Reflecting on the political and environmental challenges which the world is now facing, “Weeping Earth” is a poignant and powerful illustration.

Weeping Earth, 2, Davy Macdonald

Picture the bleak scene: a wild sky of threatening dark clouds, a mass of grey, black and white captured in bold brushstrokes. Streaks of crimson red appear to drip like blood on to the stark, dry desert below, scorched in the heat.  Simple in structure, it packs a punch in its vibrancy and apocolyptic vision.

With his interest in Chinese art, “Jade Mine” is another striking conceptual image, reflecting the Yin and Yang theory of passive and active energy. Against the dark green of high mountain peaks, there’s the fiery glare of a red sun. Jade gemstones hold a significant place in the Chinese culture, believed to be a bridge between heaven and hell, symbolising knowledge, perfection, constancy and immortality.

Jade Mine, Davy Macdonald

Japanese cinema from the 1970s is also the subject of a few works, featuring such characters as such as Lone Wolf and Lady Snowblood.  This cult classic movie from director, Toshiya Fujita, a young woman (Meiko Kaji), trained as an assassin to seek revenge for the murders of her father and brother; the choreographed swordplay is described as visual poetry.

Macdonald has returned to his Heritage series of the Herring Lassies, evolving the theme by placing two or three young women in a less defined landscape. They stand, holding baskets of fish, gazing out at distant hills at sunrise, perhaps remembering and dreaming of their island home.

Sunrise 2, Davy Macdonald

Rather than the naturalistic setting of Newhaven harbour, this could be the Scottish Highlands, Outer Hebrides, Finland, Norway, Iceland.  These are most impressive figurative-landscapes, evocative of a freeze frame in a film, a moment in time, expressing a quiet emotional sense of nostalgia and loss.

Sunrise 1, Davy Macdonald

Around the gallery are new Portraits such as the artist’s muse, Evelyn Nesbit, the fair-skinned beauty from Tarentum, Philadelphia.

Muse, Evelyn Nesbitt, Davy Macdonald

After her father died, leaving her Scottish-Irish family in debt, Nesbit became a muse, modelling, fully clothed,for artists. In June 1900, she moved to New York City and soon, she was the most in-demand model, for portraits and fashion advertising, in Manhattan.

There are also examples of the classic Gothic Edinburgh paintings, and from the original Herring Lassies series. These are popular images with prints and originals being shipped around the world across Europe to Beijing.

“Herring Lassies” Heritage series,    “The Boat that didn’t come home” Davy Macdonald

Having known Davy Macdonald’s work for a few years, this is an inspiring and imaginative exhibition of figurative and abstract oil paintings, as well as Limited Edition Prints.  Prints are available to purchase from the ETSY shop. Each paper edition is strictly limited to 125.  Canvas prints are limited to 18 for each series.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DMACART

Commissions for Portraits are also welcome.

See more information at – www. dmacart.com

New Growth – Paintings by Davy Macdonald

Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

Saturday 22 July to Saturday 29 July, 2017. 10am – 6pm daily.

 

 

“Venice: The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller” by Gillian Angrave – your perfect, personal companion in your pocket.

A recurring travel bug has certainly afflicted Gillian Angrave.  Her globetrotting career began in 1967 as Assistant Purser with P & O cruise line  followed by working for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.   Now enjoying a very active retirement, she continues to explore the world often returning to her favourite city, Venice.

“How could anyone not fall in love with Venice? 

She is flamboyant, magical and unique, like nowhere else on earth.”

“Venice – The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller,” volume 1, From Swamp to La Serenissima, begins in March 2015 when Gillian arrives for her first visit, describing her initial impressions and experiences. This is different from the typical guide book for tourists, full of historical facts and figures, a long directory on hotels and lists of key sites.  Instead, this personal travelogue is for the independently-minded visitor, in  search of art, culture, heritage and off the beaten track adventures.

To start, her advice if flying here, is to ensure you arrive into Venice by water, either by the efficient Alilaguna Ferry from Marco Polo airport or water taxi. “Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of the Canal Grande ..it really is awesome.”

Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge

There’s a brief history of Venice from 421 AD, when it had developed from the flooded River Po delta to a living “patchwork quilt” of 116 island communities around the Lagoon. Then follow in Gillian’s footsteps as she eagerly sets off around this flamboyant “water city,” in the Venetian manner of  “andare per le fodere,”  back-tracking the maze of narrow alleyways and a myrad of bridges to get from A to B.

Map of Venice

Getting lost is part of the fun and it’s easy to find your bearings with signs for Rialto and San Marco to keep you on the right track.  Soon this “virgin Venetian” is jumping on Vaporetti (water buses) here, there and everywhere  – “Hop on and off with a three day pass” she recommends.

Where to eat is always a difficult decision, but Gillian very soon finds Le Café, Campo Santo Stefano, to relish the perfect Spaghetti Bolognaise – a friendly, family run Ristorante which she returns to again and again.

Le Cafe, Campo, Santo Stefano

A walking tour takes her to La Merceria district, “a shopper’s paradise” followed by an excellent lunch at Café Saraceno. She zigzags her way along and around Il Canalazzo (Grand Canal), with its four famous bridges and iconic architecture,  taking a stroll one day along the waterfront promenade, Zattere Ponte Lungo, lined with bars and pizzerias, overlooking the island of Guidecca.  She also illustrates how the historic vision of the city has been preserved: the view of the Entrance to the Arsenale as painted in 1773  by Canaletto is virtually unchanged today.

Entrance to the Arsenale, by Canaletto

Day by day,  we tour Venice with Gillian as our personal guide. An early morning visit to see the Campanile, the 328 foot high Bell Tower in St. Mark’s Square, relating how the original tower collapsed on 14 July, 1902, but was rebuilt in just nine years. Further restoration in 1962 included the installation of a much appreciated lift.!

Gillian first in line to visit La Campanille

And of course, there are stunning Churches galore, such as Santa Maria della Salute, in such a perfect location near the mouth of the sweeping S shaped Canalazzo.  “ I do like La Salute with its octaganol cupola,  six chapels, Titian’s great works and organ recitals are held regularly. …”

The cupola inside Santa Maria della Salute

Burano, Harlequin Island

For an exhilarating day trip by Motonavo, (a large Vaporetto),  three charming islands out in the Laguna are Murano, famous for glassware and Burano with its row of former fishermen’s pretty coloured houses, giving its name Harlequin Island.

Torcello is renowned for its beautiful cathedral and where gourmands flock to eat at the legendary Locanda Cipriani restaurant.  Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip once visited for lunch, when the menu included ravioli, fried fish, pasta, beans and risotto!

Locanda Cipriani, Torcello

Although Gillian doesn’t cover this, here’s a little more of its fascinating story. Its founder, Giuseppe Cipriani was a hospitality entrepreneur,  first inventing Harry’s Bar in 1931, (near Piazza San Marco), which was like a private club for Hollywood stars, who sipped the house cocktail, Bellini and dined on Beef Carpaccio. A typical lunch here for Orson Welles was shrimp sandwiches, washed down with two bottles of Dom Perignon. Following the Bar’s celebrity success, in 1935 he founded the Ristorante on Torcello, ( beloved by Ernest Hemingway and other Harry’s Bar clientelle). Then in 1953, he planned his grand Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca, today the luxury, hideaway Belmond Cipriani Resort (a favourite of George Clooney).

At the end of  Chapter 1, Gillian writes, “ My love affair with Venice had now begun – I knew I would be back”.   Chapter 2 begins on 28 September, 2015, the diary of her second visit, where she stays at Hotel Flora, “ a 17th century palazzo tucked down a little alley off the Calle Larga XX11 Marzo” and she was soon back at her favourite Le Café for dinner.

Courtyard at Hotel Flora, Calle Larga XX II Marzo

And so her exploration continues, this time on a literary-inspired journey, visiting the former homes of Marco Polo, the intrepid traveller to the far East, and also of Robert Browning whose former address is now a museum. As the poet wrote, “Open my heart and you will see, graved inside of it, Italy.”   Gillian enjoys “sauntering .. soaking up the atmosphere” and is an expert at finding hidden gems such as a music museum of vintage instruments, and the statue, Il Gobbo de Rialto, a character in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice. ”  The Venice Biennale Festival of Modern Art since 1895,  proves an enlightening experience as she tours around the galleries.

It is also interesting to read about the Venice in Peril Fund, an appeal first launched by UNESCO in 1966 following the devastating flood to protect the city from further disaster. Residents say that “Venice is not sinking, the water is rising”.  The fasinating chapter, Watercraft of Venice tells the colourful history of the various boats, barges, ornately painted gondolas and the traditional role of the gondolier.

Gillian ends the book, with a fond farewell, “my love of Venice will grow ever stronger with the years to come. Ciao Venezia, e grazie mille”.

“Venice” by Jan Morris, (first published 1960) is now a modern classic and described as one of the best travel books about Venetian life and character, its waterways, architecture, bridges, tourists, curiosities, brought vividly to life.

In similar vein, Gillian Angrave shares her love affair with Venice, capturing its timeless, dreamlike sense of place. In his “Guide to Alexandria”, E. M. Foster advises the best way to look at the city is to “wander aimlessly about”.  That is exactly what Gillian accomplishes on her own wandering, meandering and sauntering around La Serenissima.

Her observations are not intended to be a comprehensive city guide covering the usual list of where to stay, eat, drink and what to see.   Instead, her humour, enthusiasm, knowledge, passion and quirky anecdotes offer a most enlightening narrative. Pack a copy of this slim, well illustrated book as your perfect travel companion in your pocket for your next trip to Venice.

Venice: The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller –  Volume 1, From Swamp to La Serenissima  

by Gillian Angrave

Angrave Publishing

(available on Amazon  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0995573948

P.S.  See also Venice: The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller, Volume 2.  (review to follow soon).

 

 

“The Lightness of Being” – Alison Simpson and Amanda Baron – delicate, decorative paper and glass artwork at the Birch Tree Gallery, Edinburgh

Birch Tree Gallery , Edinburgh

The Birch Tree Gallery opened on Dundas Street, Edinburgh in March 2017 specialising in showcasing the fine art of Craft.  The gallery name represents the simple yet effective  image of the texture of bark to denote the wider world of nature as represented through art.  A range of regularly changing exhibitions feature a diverse selection of artists who specialise in natural materials, creatively working with textiles, wood, glass, ceramics, paper, porcelain, metals, silver, gold, gemstones, as well as linocuts, mezzotints and screen prints.

“The Lightness of Being” currently showcases the innovative work of Alison Simpson and Amanda Baron, who specialise  respectively in Paper and Glass.

At Art College, Alison trained first and foremost as a sculptor, forging a career in metalwork, constructing and casting in steel, bronze and iron. But after a decade or more, the heat, heavy weight and hardness of the work and materials ceased to be an inspiration, and she wisely turned to learning about and experimenting with the delicate art of paper-crafting. Paper can be made from any plant, and Alison uses the fibres from cotton and linen and locally grown Scottish flax.

Another Month of Sundays – Alison Simpson

Around the gallery is a series of beautifully framed, white and gold, textured, decorative Paper squares. “Through Trees” shows what seems like a woodland of tall slender trunks, with perhaps the glow of the moon beyond. It is meticulously crafted, to reflect the light-as-a-feather, literally “paper-thin” material of the delicate fibrous fabric.

Through Trees – Alison Simpson

Around the gallery is also a marvellous display of sculptured paper ornaments such as a linked chain of bluebells with pretty petals, shapely shells and tiny birds.

Blue Ten – Alison Simpson

Alison lives and works on the Moray Firth, where the natural environment of the sea, beach, changing light and weather is all a rich stimulus in her creativity. As she explains, “When I make a piece of art, I want the viewer to stop struggling to understand, just to stand, to breathe, to rest the eye.  The complex and miraculous properties of paper allow me to do this, creating sculptural pieces that weigh little in comparison to their visual impact. ”

Large White Shell – Alison Simpson

To complement Alison’s enriching papercrafts, Amanda Baron is exhibiting an enticing collection of decorative glass and jewellery. She studied Architectural Glass at Edinburgh College of Art,  later Artist in residence here, and worked for many years as a conservator of stained glass.

Cloud Study – Amanda Baron

This exhibition features stunning framed works of kiln-fired enamel on mouth blown glass. The theme of the environment is inspired from a visit to the Isle of Eigg where along the Singing Sands and Laig Bay Beach, Amanda observed the sky, clouds, rock pools, ferns, lichen and sand patterns created by the tide.

Sand Movement – Amanda Baron

In such meticulous craftwork, “Sand Movement”, “Cloud Study”, and “Rock Pool,” the soft shades of blue, white and grey shapes almost appear floating in the transparency of the glass.

Rock Pool – Amanda Baron

Here are circles, discs, ovals and patterned shapes to represent the impression of shards of light and droplets of water,  grains of sand, shells, seaweed – fragments of the seashore recreated as imaginatively composed works of art.

Oval line – Amanda Baron

As Amanda describes the process: “I make paintings on glass that reflect my research into elements of Scottish landscape. I highlight the qualities of glass using traditional painting, staining and enameling techniques that are relatively unchanged since the medieval period. The work is hand painted using kiln fired glass paints and can have up to six firings to build up surface layers. They embody and crystallise my response to the craft of the material and the beauty of landscape”.

The result is a masterly effect of landscape painting and botanical illustration inspired by traditional stained glass.  See also her collection of jewellery, such as exquisitely polished and perfected orange, gold and green glass pendants.

This is truly a most inspirational and imaginatively curated exhibition, where the beauty of Scottish land and sea, from the Highlands to the Hebrides has been translated into such finely crafted artworks composed in paper and glass.

The Lightness of Being – Alison Simpson and Amanda Baron

6 July to 1 August, 2017

Birch Tree Gallery 23a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QQ

www.birchtreegallery.co.uk

 

Rose Strang – Moonscapes: Isle of Harris @ Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh

I first came across the beautifully crafted and atmospheric landscapes of the Scottish Borders by Rose Strang when she exhibited her work at Whitespace Gallery, Howe Street, Edinburgh in July 2015.

At the time, I wrote:  “There’s a distinctive sense of physically being outside in the open air as you study each canvas; it’s the subtlety of thin shards of sunlight through leaves as well as such a realistic perspective of each landscape”.

Moffat Hills, Rose Strang

Rose is clearly inspired by the sense of place, the outdoor natural world and wide open spaces.  This exhibition of new paintings, entitled Moonscapes, is based on her journey this summer to the Isle of Harris, the Outer Hebrides…..certainly a painterly destination for a breath of fresh air and stunning scenic views of mountains and seashore.

Before I describe the artworks, this is a fascinating story.  Take a look at this photograph.

West Beach

The white sands and gently lapping turquoise sea at Kai Bae Beach, Thailand looks like heaven on earth.

There is just one problem. The photograph is actually of West Beach on the beautiful, but slightly cooler, island of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides.  Instead of sending a photographer to Kai Bae, Thailand tourism simply Googled images of idyllic beaches and borrowed one of Berneray. The sand dunes and calm azure water may look tropical, but distant Harris hills and a lack of coconut palms is not Thailand!

The diverse scenery around Harris is simply stunning and certainly an artist’s paradise.

Traigh Luskentir, Harris – Rose Strang

Take a tour around Harris to view the lush, languid beauty of Luskentyre Bay with its iconic undulating dunes of pure white sand, etched with wild machair grasses along the shore.

Luksentir Sea – Rose Strang

A totally different terrain is experienced on the east coast of the island where you’ll find a rugged, rocky, raw and wild seascape. Rose must have studied each place for hours to capture the change of light from dawn to dusk. As the title suggests, there are delicate scenes of lochs and distant hills bathed in soft moonlight.

Harris Moon – Rose Strang

What is especially creative is the method by which thick brushstrokes of oil, perhaps with the addition of grass or sand added, (similar to the masterstroke by Joan Eardley) to create a realistic aspect to denote the texture and tone of the natural environment on the canvas.

Harris Twilight – Rose Strang

Colour palette is muted but again, natural, with blends of turquoise and navy blue to show the shallow and deep water of the sea, matched by the bracken brown and sage green shades of wild flowers and foliage.

The paintings range from large landscapes to miniature vignettes, but all composed with extraordinary detail, especially the study and movement of waves and clouds.

What I admire about Rose’s briskly painted, sketchy style of land and seascapes, is that they are purposely not photographic.   A Kodak or digital image represents the accuracy of a scene, but not the atmospheric mood, the gentle graduation of light and shade.

Na Buirgh Beach, Harris – Rose Strang

This is the work of someone who is totally absorbed by what she sees, and with the astute eye of an artist, is able to present a fresh, impressionistic clarity of vision.

Just like her paintings of the Borders, here again you really feel that you are standing there on the beach or wild moorland on the Isle of Harris. Catch the whiff of the salt sea air, the warmth of the sun or chill breeze of  late evening –  as you walk around the gallery.

Moonscapes: Isle of Harris by Rose Strang

14 – 20 July, 2017

Whitespace Gallery, East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ

If you cannot visit the gallery this week, do take a look at her website for images and information:

http://www.rosestrangartworks.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

A re-booted, re-energised, reinvented Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival for 2018

On one of the sunniest, hottest day of the summer so far in Edinburgh, it seemed slightly incongruous to attend the media launch at Mansfield Traquair of the Hogmanay Festival 2018.

Underbelly, which stages Edinburgh Fringe productions from Cowgate to Bristo Square, and UK wide outdoor events year round, has been chosen as the new creative management team., taking over the reins from Unique Events.

Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood present their Festival programme

Directors, Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, have brought together a crack creative team under Executive Producer, Martin Green. For five years he was Head of Events for London’s New Year, oversaw the 2012 Olympic Games celebrations, and is currently the director of Hull UK City of Culture, 2017.

From the programme line up, they are certainly starting their first year with a colourful spectacle and big bang.

An underlying theme is to take the New Year celebration back to its roots of the old Hogmanay parties at home, when revellers would tour around to “first foot” family and friends, with gifts of coal, shortbread and whisky.  Edinburgh’s Hogmanay  2017/2018 will present an enormous “House Party”  to bring local residents and international visitors together for a modern remix of the traditional Hogmanay.

Once again, it will be an exciting, colourful three day Festival starting with the ever popular Torchlight Procession on 30 December, when thousands of people will create a river of light down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Queens Park.

Torch Procession on 30 December

As 2018 is the Year of Young People, a special project will bring kids and youngsters together to select one universal word, the #ScotWord to illustrate what Scotland means to them.

Another innovation in welcoming Festival goers of all ages, is a special event, Bairns Afore,  a Hogmanay party for families which children in Princes Street gardens with their own mini firework display at 6pm.  Then the bairns can be packed off to bed before the adults can go out again and party.!

Several years ago, on 30 December there was the regular “Night Afore Fiesta” with a parade of street theatre, music and entertainment, stilt walkers and giant puppets along George Street.  When this ended, it was sorely missed. However, this style of Fiesta is back even bigger and better this year.

On Hogmanay, 31 December, the gates to the famous Street Party will open at 7pm. This will be a dramatic, exciting, new revamp to the usual event, with a fabulous Carnival of street theatre, acrobats, dancers and a spectacle of light and sound. Along and around Princes Street there will be three stages for a diverse range of musical entertainment.  There will also be a Ceilidh in the Gardens, and the annual Concert at the Ross Bandstand – further details on bands and singers will be announced soon.

The famous Street Party on 31 December

At midnight, the Fireworks will have an impressive and extended display to bring in the New Year with sparkling light, fizz, crackle and pop to delight the crowd of 60,000 revellers.

Fireworks explode from the Castle Rock

The festivities continue on 1st January when the brave or foolhardy can take a trip to South Queensferry to join in the traditional Loony Dook (or Daft Dip) in the Firth of Forth. Fancy dress encouraged!

Loony Dook in the First of Forth on 1 January

After a rousing  Hogmanay rendition of Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns, the New Year will continue in literary mode,  to celebrate its status as the first UNESCO City of Literature, and inspired by Burns’ poem, “Sketch New Year’s Day. ” Message from the Skies will feature a unique murder mystery written by best selling crime writer, Val McDermid in collaboration with director, Philip Howard.  Taking city residents and visitors on a journey around the city, the short story will be projected around the streets and landmark buildings each evening from 1 – 25 January, Robert Burns’ birthday.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018 will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first ever Princes Street Party, an event which gradually developed into a three day, world famous Winter festival.  It is extraordinary to realise that it was Edinburgh which led the way to herald in the New Year with dazzling Fireworks from the Castle. This later inspired London, Sydney and Hong Kong and other cities to light up the skies at midnight.

Join in the party, the fun, fireworks, #Scotword, stories, songs and the fiesta spirit at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018.

Say to the World: I WAS THERE.   

“…. this is not the end of a year, 

but the beginning of a new. 

We will clasp the hands of every stranger, 

Because this belongs to all of us. 

This is our New Year. 

This is ‘the’ New Year.

We’ll leave as beacons, shining lights

That say to the world: 

I – WAS – THERE. 

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. 

It’ll leave its mark.”

For more information:

http://www.edinburghshogmanay.com

Join the world famous party at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

 

 

 

 

Experience the Oyster Happy Hour for a sophisticated taste of summer at the Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, Edinburgh

Kick off the Summer and Festival season in Edinburgh with a sparkling celebration of Oysters and Fizz evenings at the Galvin Brasserie de Luxe.

Chris and Jeff Galvin outside their Brasserie de Luxe

It is nearly five years since the much beloved Caledonian Hotel was imaginatively restored after a glamorous, art deco design facelift to be reborn as the luxury Waldorf Astoria and join the elite collection of elegant hotels around the world from New York to Paris.   As part of the new look, Michelin-starred chefs, Chris and Jeff Galvin took over the fine-dining Pompadour Restaurant and also created the classic French Brasserie de Luxe offering authentic Parisian cuisine, style, service and atmosphere – recently named the Best Informal Restaurant (Edinburgh) for the third time at the Scottish Hotel Awards.

An innovative idea, just launched for summer in the city, is an indulgently, romantic Oyster Happy Hour.

During the week, Monday to Friday, from 6pm and 7pm, it’s now Champagne O’Clock combined with Lindisfarne Oysters, (at the value price of just £1 a shuck).  Pop in with a few colleagues after work or meet family and friends for an appetising pre-dinner aperitif and shellfish “canapés” to celebrate the long, light evenings.

Island bar at Galvin Brasserie de luxe

Take a stool at the Island Bar in the Brasserie and share a platter of the freshest oysters, served on ice with traditional accompaniments – Mignonette  (shallot vinegar), spicy Tabasco and a squeeze of tangy lemon. And on the side, what could be better than a flute of chilled Galvin Champagne,  a glass of wine (choice of house wines on tap), or your favourite cocktail.  A dry Gin Martini might hit the spot!

Lindisfarne Oysters, a family business in Northumberland, produce these Pacific oysters (Crassostrea Gigas) grown along the seashore within the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.  Starting off in a hatchery,  they are later placed in mesh bags on oyster beds, and then can take up to four years to mature.

Lindisfarne Oysters

Historical records show that these oyster beds were established by the Monks of Lindisfarne Priory in 1381, after they bought an oyster boat for 100 shillings.

Having sampled a few of these silky soft  little molluscs, the oysters are expertly “chucked” so that no utensil is required to extract the oysters – just add your preferred garnish and they slide out of the craggy shell, then swallow in one mouthful to relish that salty-sweet flavour.  Simply delicious.

“Oysters: small and rich, looking like little ears enfolded in shells, and melting between the palate and the tongue like salted sweets.”

Guy de Maupassant

There’s a casually relaxed mood in the Brasserie, with cool, jazzy -blues on the soundtrack, blending with the buzzing chatter of diners.

Galvin’s house champagne – the perfect serve with oysters

Of course, after sampling a few oysters and a couple of drinks, this will be the ideal Appetiser and you may well be tempted to stay on for dinner in the Brasserie .. if there’s a table available!  (Reservations highly recommended).

Oysters were first introduced in Britain during the Roman times – shells have been found at many archaeological sites from the Roman Fort in Richborough to Hadrian’s Wall.  After this period,  it would take centuries for the oyster to become popular again. By the end of the 18th century, they were the typical food served  in Public Houses, washed down with a pint of strong Stout, as cheap, readily available shellfish was part of the staple diet of the working class.

“The poorer a place is, the greater call there seems for oysters …when a man’s very poor, he rushes out of his lodgings and eats oysters in regular desperation.”  Charles Dickens, ‘The Pickwick Papers’ (1836)

How social class, food and diets have changed since then!.  Today prime shellfish, lobsters, scallops and oysters are synonymous with a luxury lifestyle and gourmet cuisine.

A showcase of Crustacea at the Galvin Brasserie

Casanova, who allegedly seduced over 100 women, used to breakfast on 50 oysters,  due to their aphrodisiac qualities to improve his virility and performance. Recent scientific research has proved they are rich in rare amino acids which increase levels of sex hormones and stimulate libido.

So if you are planning a special date  or romantic night out with your partner,  this Happy Hour with Oysters and Champagne is sure to be the perfect start to your evening with a stylish sense of Joie de Vivre.

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and succulent texture, drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy! ”   Ernest Hemingway

I think Hemingway would approve of Oyster Happy Hour at the Waldorf Astoria.!

Oyster Happy Hour,  Monday-Friday,  6-7pm

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian

Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB

tel. 0131 222 8988   www.galvinbrasseriedeluxe.com