Michael’s Grill and Seafood Place, Eyre Place Edinburgh: classic Scottish cuisine with creative, contemporary style.
Michael Neave is a talented young, entrepreneurial chef, who has recently opened his third restaurant in Edinburgh. In 2012, aged just 22, he opened the Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar off the Royal Mile, just a short stroll down Old Fishmarket Close. What a perfect address for a chef who specialises in the finest Scottish steak, game and seafood.
His culinary motto: “The best of Scotland’s Larder … will naturally feature heavily in my cooking. I have met the growers, the farmers, the fishermen and appreciate I am only a part of this endeavour to get the food to your plate.”
The next step was to launch “Michael’s Grill and Seafood Place” down the Royal Mile on Jeffrey Street, specialising in locally sourced, prime beef and seafood. The perfect location for city residents as well as visitors staying in the heart of the Old Town.
5 star reviews from happy diners:
Absolutely gorgeous. We had the shellfish platter, cooked perfectly.
I had huge crab claws and the steak was also delicious. Overall very welcoming – will definitely return.
A hidden gem. Cannot recommend enough.
With such a success it was time to create the same dining experience in the New Town with a branch of “Michael’s Grill and Seafood Place” on Eyre Place, an ideal neighbourhood district between the urban villages of Stockbridge and Broughton.
For those who know the area, the venue was formerly Duck’s (now in Aberlady), then the French bistro, L’Artichaut, followed by the The Roamin’ Nose, and then over the past year or so, a Spanish Restaurant, Casa Mara.
Having opened at the end of October, 2019, Michael’s is well and truly open for business and Ken and I booked a table for dinner to experience his renowned style of Scottish cuisine. It is a cosy, intimate space with large orange and cream leather booths as well as a flexible layout of tables around two adjoining rooms.
Attractively designed to showcase the original thick stone wall on one side, wood flooring, soft colourful lights and a small gallery of abstract artwork. A featured artist is Tamsin Ghislaine Cunningham whose cool, crafted drawings explore the natural world of land and sea, waves, rocks, coastline through dreamlike abstract images.
As we study the enticing menu – like that of a typical French Bistro – we order a couple of aperitifs to get the taste buds going. Ken selects a favourite, a spicy, citrusy Negroni, while I choose an ice cold Gin Martini, straight up with a twist. £5 cocktails too – such as the popular pink Cosmopolitan and Mojito. Beers, cider, Scotch, Irish & American whiskies and various spirits too.
Now what to eat? The speciality here, of course, is The Grill, with fillet, prime rib and rump steaks, as well as seafood galore: Hot Shellfish Platter, Lobster Thermidor and classic Fish & Chips; Chicken, Burgers and inventive vegetarian dishes, such as Beetroot and Goats Cheese Gnocchi with wilted kale.
For a lover of shellfish, I am in my element: a starter of six oysters from Loch Fyne, with a choice of dressings, Shallot, chilli and coriander, Scottish Vodka Bloody Mary, Lemon and fennel.
A huge black box arrives with a bed of ice on which are placed the six shells and dishes of dips. Loch Fyne oysters are indeed “fine,” due to their provenance, quality and sustainability, with 2.5 million exported around the world each year to luxury hotels, 1st class airline cabins and Michelin starred restaurants .. and served at Michael’s.
Drizzled with each distinctive dressing, the salty molluscs are enhanced with a fresh spicy flavour, and the succulent texture is divine.
Ken selected the vegetarian Spiced Bean Haggis bon bons –the alternative to the Crisp Haggis Croquettes also on the menu. Well presented without being overly fussy, they have a good hint of spice, accompanied by a crunchy salad and artistic blobs of curry mayo around the plate.
After our cocktails, we order a bottle of French Sauvignon Roussane, which has a real similarity to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with its crisp gooseberry notes. The wine list offers several House Wines served by the glass and bottle, with additional advice on which white and red wines would pair well with, say, poultry, steak, oysters, smoked fish and with a sweet dessert.
Mussels are offered in either a half kilo or kilo pot. Even for a main course, the half kilo was adequate for my appetite, but hungry folk might tackle the full kilo portion. A choice of broths too – White wine, shallot and garlic, Curried coconut, sallion and cilantro or Spanish chorizo and tomato. The service is professionally done, with a small finger bowl (warm water thankfully), and the lid of the pot is placed at the side for the empty shells.
I create my own Moules-Frites (the national dish of Belgium where the dish was invented), with a side of Skin-on Hand cut chips. These are either cooked in beef dripping (more appropriate for the steak) or sizzled in vegetable oil. The fat juicy Moules were softly textured (not at all chewy), ‘swimming’ in the creamy, garlicky sauce, all quickly devoured along with excellent chunky frites.
On the other side of the table, Ken was enjoying Shetland Salmon which was a large steak rather than a thin fillet. Cooked to his specification, (almost rare), it was served on a generous mound of new potatoes as well as a large serving of samphire, completed with a drizzle of chive hollandaise sauce.
This was a gourmet feast of simply but imaginatively composed and artistically presented dishes – classic Scottish produce jazzed up with contemporary style. No space for dessert – but for those with a sweet tooth, indulge in Sticky Toffee and Banana Pudding, or Bitter Dark Chocolate and Whisky Pot.
We are looked after all evening with professional, personal, friendly care by Naidene, who is most knowledgeable about the dishes, ingredients and dietary advice. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming with a variety of easy listening music on the soundtrack.
The menu at Michael’s offers a foodie journey around Scotland and excellent to see the Provenance given on the menu – Arbroath smokies, East Lothian crab, Eyemouth Lobster Loch Fyne oysters, Arran mustard mash, mussels and salmon from Shetland. John Gilmour of East Lothian supplies the Scottish beef, Welch Fishmongers of Newhaven, Belhaven Smokehouse for fresh and smoked seafood.
Visit Michael’s for lunch or dinner with special offers. Sumptuous Sundays –a traditional Roast lunch, 3 courses and bottle of house wine for 2 @ just £45. Bring the family and friends and kids under 7 eat free.
Wednesday Steak Night and Thursday Lobster Night. The new Christmas menu (from 28 November), is amazing value – 2 or 3 courses under £20/25. The choice of dishes is mouth-wateringly tempting.!
Take a look at the website for menus with excellent special offers and book your table soon.
Michael’s Grill and Seafood Place
14 Eyre Place. Edinburgh, EH3 5EP
Tel: 0131 466 4576
Tues – Thurs: 12pm – 2.30pm & 5pm – 9.00pm
Fri – Sun: 12pm – 3.00pm & 5pm – 9.30pm
NOTO, Edinburgh: a cool, classy taste of the Big Apple with a touch of exotic Asian spice
Chef Stuart Ralston is the renowned chef-patron behind the mega successful Edinburgh restaurant, Aizle, which he runs with his wife Krystal. It is listed in the Michelin guide 2020: “Well balanced, skilfully prepared dishes are a surprise as the set menu is a long list of ingredients” to create a six course dining experience.
Aizle has recently been named the Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Award winner as the top fine dining restautant in Edinburgh and voted 5th best across the UK.
Five years after opening Aizle, he has recently launched an all day, casual dining concept, NOTO on Thistle Street, featuring an imaginative menu of sharing plates with a cuisine inspired by his time working in New York.
It is named in tribute to the late Bob Noto, a well known eccentric and man about town in New York City who became an inspirational friend when Ralston worked in NYC for four years, under several chefs including Daniel Humm & Gordon Ramsay and at the private members’ club, The Core.
The décor across two dining areas is fresh and minimalist, with decorative twigs and branches on the white walls, green plants, dark wood floor and tables, vases of feathery grasses – all bringing a sense of nature and the outdoors, inside.
There is an adjoining cocktail and wine bar where you can also sit on a stool to enjoy a wide array of drinks and order food.
Ken and I visited for a late lunch and instead of conventional starters and mains, the menu offers a diverse selection of small and larger plates ideally to share. We were advised to select two to three dishes each. The menu (on lovely textured parchment paper), is attractively designed with the ingredients of each dish set out in lower case – all very appetising.
We select three of the smaller plates, “north sea crab, warm butter, sourdough,” “berkswell cheese croquette (3pc)” and “jerusalem artichokes, truffled cheddar, walnut.” And one large dish, “squid, clams, XO, koshihikari rice.”
Like most restaurants offering Tapas and sharing plates, they are prepared and served in any order which adds to the surprise element of the foodie experience.
First, cocktails for an aperitif: a spicy Bloody Mary, (Blackwoods vodka, pickled celery) which hits the spot.
And for Ken a perfectly shaken Negroni which was invented by Count Negroni in Florence in 1919 – so celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
We settle in for a relaxing lunch with a quirky, varied music soundtrack playing in the background.
A large crab shell arrived with a creamy, buttery soup with thick chunks of crab, best eaten with chunks of bread rather than a spoon. The shell-bowl was quickly scraped clean.
The award winning Berkswell Cheese is made by the Fletcher family at Ram Hall farm, near Berkswell, West Midlands. Unpasturised ewes’ milk, from their own East Friesland flock, is used with a traditional artisan method made in small vats, and left to mature for at least 6 months. The taste is sweet and nutty similar in style to a Pecorino.
The small Berkswell croquettes were smothered in a fluffy white cloud of grated cheese, like a sprinkling of snow.
Soft, rich texture, tangy, smoky flavour = simply delicious. (Just not sure why there are three croquettes to share between two people, meaning we have to cut one in half.)
Then the Jerusalem artichokes oozing the gorgeous aroma of truffle even before tasting. Totally different from globe artichokes, these root vegetables are from the sunflower family and look like a piece of ginger. Imaginatively cooked, they were like mini baked potatoes stuffed with the pungent-scented cheddar cheese and sprinkled with walnut shavings. (also three to share).
Our three courses are slowly consumed with the topic of conversation firmly about the distinctive food and combination of ingredients. Cocktails finished, we now select a glass of Sicilian Cielo Bianco to sip with the final large dish.
The “squid, clams, XO and koshihiari rice” arrived in a large bowl with flakes of Japanese tuna (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna) – Katsuobushi – on the top. The warmth of the dish makes these wave and dance which was magical to watch.
The spicy condiment XO was created in Hong Kong, made with chilli, garlic, dried shrimp and cured ham, but vegetarians are offered a mushroom alternative. This gives this seafood risotto a real kick!. Koshihikari is a premium, small grain rice, soft, slightly sweet and is used for sushi. This Asian seafood risotto was simply divine, each flavour, texture and taste blending together in harmony.
The dinner menu offers a slightly larger selection of dishes with a real Fine Dining touch: “oyster, cucumber mignonette, dill,” “partridge sausage roll, apple & sage,” “ beef tartare” and “confit duck leg, Scottish mushrooms, fried egg”.
The kitchen has four full-time chefs, managed by Chef-patron Stuart Ralston and his Executive Sous chef Ash Fahy – (who both work on different days at NOTO and Aizle).
NOTO is open all day so ideal for lunch, brunch, afternoon/ evening meal or a leisurely dinner. With stools along the bar, you can eat here too or just a cocktail or drinks anytime; a tempting idea is to pop in for a glass of Cremant or Champagne and share a platter of oysters.
Expect a creative culinary feast, presented with such artistic style and relaxed sophistication in true NYC manner.
47a Thistle St, Edinburgh EH2 1DY
Open daily, 12 noon to 9pm (Fri-Sat till 10pm)
Bar open till late.
T. 0131 241 8518
The Scottish Portrait Awards 2019: Who are the Winners for Fine Art and Photography?
The announcement of the Shortlists for the Scottish Portrait Awards for both Fine Art and the Richard Coward Photography Awards took place two weeks ago, (see previous article, The Scottish Portrait Awards, Every Face Tells a Story).
After careful deliberation by the Judges, there was a most inspiring reception at the Scottish Arts Club on 13th November to announce all the winners.
Michael Youds works at the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh, assisting visitors to experience the world class collection of Scottish and International art. On his days off, Michael is an artist himself, mostly portraits and still life, which has now paid off handsomely. His Fine Art portrait, I was Blue, He was Red was selected for the overall winner receiving the £5,000 Scottish Portrait Award.
The portrait features Michael and his twin brother David inspired by a photograph taken as babies, when their parents dressed them in red or blue to tell them apart. It is also a charming homage to David Hockney who is renowned for his large scale double portraits.
In “I was Blue, he was Red”, they wear the correct colour of T shirts with David browsing through a book of Hockney paintings and Michael holds the childhood photograph which was the inspirational starting point for this nostalgic double portrait.
Saul Robertson’s portrait of his two charming daughters, Us into Others, Others into Us, came runner up with a prize of £1,000 – which he describes as “an honest representation .. as a way of expressing my love for them”.
Li Huang came in third place (£500) for his portrait of his mother, Kinship, depicting a proud but emotional expression as she recollects memories his late father.
Mark Roscoe was given a Commendation for his Self Portrait 2019, which is certainly an uncanny likeness in his striped Breton T shirt with a nod to Picasso. His 7 year old daughter and his five year old son take a creative interest in his work as astute critics.!
There were also awards for Young Fine Artist of the year, (16 – 25 years old), presented to Robin Page for her portrait Land of White Mist, receiving a cheque for £500. The sitter is her partner, lying in bed to relax and escape from his tiring work as a carer.
Grace Payne-Kumar won a Commendation for her Portrait of Niccolo, who is a life model in Florence, composed in the style of a traditional Old Master.
The Scottish Portrait Awards also present the Richard Coward Photography Awards, in memory of the extraordinary life and work of the late photographer, renowned for iconic, black and white fashion shots and also for prints, abstract painting, etching and film-making.
A black and white portrait of Govanhill resident Alan Tanner by Simon Murphy was selected to receive the £3,000 Richard Coward Scottish Portrait Award in Photography.
Simon began photographing Govanhill when he lived there in the early 2000s and met Alan Tanner in Milk, a social café in Govanhill that supports refugee and migrant women. Tanner told stories of his time in London in the 60’s and 70’s, when he lived near Jimi Hendrix, and designed album covers for Hawkwind and Procol Harem.
For the photograph, “Alan raised a cigarette to his mouth – I asked him to look directly into the lens and I clicked the shutter. .. a gritty realist style…to reflect the harsh experiences that face so many Govanhill residents.’
The 2nd Prize of £500 was awarded to Jo Tennant for her atmospheric image The Eve of Women’s Day, an exhilarating snapshot of Jenny snapped on a winter’s day, the eve of International Women’s Day as she braves the elements and ice cold sea with a lovely grinning smile. Jo was also in the water but wearing a wet suit not a swimming costume and comments that “This portrait of Jenny in the sea speaks of daring, joy, belonging.”
The 3rd Prize of £100 went to Ruby Rose O’Neill for her silhouette mise-en-abyme image of the artist Derrick Guild, a reflection through glass, which links through to her work as a filmmaker.
A Commendation prize was also presented to John Post for his moody, shadowy photograph of Lou Moon, a drag artist, snapped off stage in a dressing room, painting her lips as part of her identity and character transformation.
The SPA Young Photographer Award is presented to artists aged 16 – 25. Brenna Collie (now aged 17), is the winner this year for her self-portrait, Trapped, receiving a prize of £500. When she was just 14, she suffered a stroke and the image portrays the doctors shining torches in her eyes, when she felt trapped in her own body and mind ..”but it is hopeful as it captures the start of my recovery.’
A Commendation for the Young Photographer was awarded to Mark Shields for his portrait Late News Final illustrating one of the last remaining news vendors still working in central Glasgow, as the newspaper industry slowly moves from print to the internet.
The SPA exhibition of sixty portraits across Fine Art and Photography –featuring the twelve shortlisted works with all the winners now revealed – is now on show:
Scottish Arts Club, 24 Rutland Square, Edinburgh EH1 2BW.
Dates: 2-30 November 2019, Monday to Saturday, 2 – 5pm.
SPA on tour: Glasgow Art Club from 16 January to 15 February 2020 and the Kirkcudbright Galleries from 14 March to 24 May 2020.
The SPA will welcome entries for next year’s competition from 2nd April until 30th June 2020.
Credit: Photographs of the winning artists beside the potraits by George McBean
Enchanting Vistas – an exhibition of classical city landmarks around Edinburgh by Jamie Primrose with contemporary vision.
“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” Alexander McCall Smith
Jamie Primrose is certainly a prolific artist who presents two very different exhibitions at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh each year, usually in early summer and late Autumn. City, land and seascapes have taken us over the past fifteen years or so on a journey to South America, Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the sundrenched Italian and French Rivieras and waterways of Venice. But most of all his artistic heart remains firmly in his home town of Edinburgh.
This showcase of paintings and drawings, Enchanting Vistas, presents fifty five of his favourite scenes from distinctive viewpoints – Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat, Grassmarket and the Mound. The theme clearly reflects the sheer beauty of Edinburgh’s unchanging sense of history and architectural heritage.
“The Scottish capital represents a strong element … and it is firmly ingrained in my psyche. I am continually drawn to capturing a timeless view of the majestic city ..” Jamie Primrose
Here you can experience the shifting times of day from dawn to dusk with a series of Turner-esque sunsets – wild streaks of coral and salmon-pink tinted skies with a rosy glow bursting on the horizon: “Sunset skyline over Edinburgh” showing off its architectural splendour and “Winter skies over the city from Calton Hill” are majestic views to portray the shimmering, shapely silhouette of the Castle and tall, elegant church spires.
With an impressionistic sweep of the paintbrush and grey-blue colour palette, “Ephemeral Skies” is a spectacular panorama, the sharp streaks of white light creating an almost surreal picture of mesmerising, heavenly beauty.
J.M.W. Turner was also captivated by this skyline from Calton Hill as depicted in a misty light a century ago in 1819.
While the Meadows and Inverleith Park have often been recurring subject, this is the first time Primrose has painted Princes Street Gardens with the Ross Fountain, Scott Monument and the avenue of trees. This tranquil green space is captured in the early morning with shafts of pale sun glistening on the autumn leaves and lawn, dominated by the towering presence of Castle Rock.
The craggy, grassy mound of Arthur’s Seat offers a rural getaway from the buzz of city life, seen here in “Late Afternoon over Dunsapie Loch” and “Enchanting Vista, Late Light over St. Margaret’s Loch”, where the water dapples under the fading light, with feathery clouds fleeting across the sky. This is the signature work in the exhibiton.
The famous Raeburn painting of Reverend Robert Wilson, the Skating Minister” on Duddingston Loch comes to mind – you almost expect to see him appearing in a ghostly image in the shadows.
The colourful, curving, cobbled Victoria Street leading from George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket is a visitor attraction for antiques, books, cheese, whisky, tailored tweed and pubs. In various paintings, the empty street is viewed at night, the sweeping row of shops glowing under a dark indigo sky.
An unusual and perfect viewpoint is from the Terrace at the National Museum of Scotland, offering a marvellous perspective over the city with the vast expanse of blue and gold sky – enchanting vistas indeed.
From the University’s Old College to the Grassmarket, Royal Mile to Pentland Hills, there is a tangible atmospheric sense of place – both in the oil paintings in soft subtle colours as well as a series of black and white sketches in Indian ink on paper. “Late Afternoon on the Mound” depicts the turrets of the Assembly Hall and gracious design of Ramsay Garden. The draughtsmanship of the architecture is brilliantly composed with such fine lines and painterly precision.
Timeless views of the city indeed in this impressive focus on the World Heritage grandeur of the Old and New Towns – iconic, classical landmarks as portrayed by Raeburn and Turner, revisited with fresh, contemporary vision.
Enchanting Vistas by Jamie Primrose
Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Friday 8th November to Saturday 16th November, 2019
Monday to Friday, 11am-6pm. Saturday, 11am-5pm.
For more information and contact details:
Private Commissions are also welcome – perhaps a favourite landscape or your own street. (expect a waiting list they are so popular) Limited Edition Prints and Black Indian Ink original drawings are available too – the ideal Christmas present for family, friends and your home.
Saltire Literary Awards – the shortlists announced for Scotland’s National Book Awards 2019.
Scotland has indeed long been an extraordinary cultural and literary country from the era of Enlightenment to Edinburgh being named the first ever Unesco City of Literature in 2004. In 1919, the James Tait Black Book Prizes were founded at the University of Edinburgh, the oldest literary awards in the world; in 1936 the Saltire Society was founded to support and celebrate the Scottish imagination across all the arts and sciences.
In 1937, the Society launched the inaugural Saltire Literary Awards and today they recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and two for Publishers. All entrants must either have been born in Scotland, live in Scotland or their books must be about Scotland.
The winner in each category receives £2,000, with all contenders eligible to be selected for the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £5,000.
For 2019, there are two new prizes: Book Cover to recognise creativity and the relationship between the designer, publisher and author. Also a special Award for Lifetime Achievement to recognise a body of work in its entirety rather than one book, with the writer receiving a cash prize of £2,000.
The Calum MacDonald Memorial Award for the publisher of Pamphlet poetry is presented in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library.
Sarah Mason, Programme Director at the Saltire Society, said “‘The Saltire Literary Awards celebrate the diversity, quality and richness of books from Scotland over the past year … recognising excellence. and we congratulate the writers and publishers who hav been shortlisted this year.”
This is just a quick overview to highlight a few of these authors and books across several categories.
Nominated for the Saltire Fiction award is Lucy Ellmann for “Ducks, Newburyport” At over 1,000 words it received glowing reviews for innovative prose and powerful message. The narrative paints a portrait of an Ohio housewife who tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless information in the USA.
“A bravura feat: a stream of consciousness, fierce and succinct wit” – The Scottish Review of Books
“ Ellmann has created a wisecracking Mrs Dalloway for the internet age.” – Financial Times
‘This isn’t just one of the outstanding books of 2019, it’s one of the outstanding books of the century, so far.’ The Irish Times
Also in the Fiction category is “You Will be Safe Here” by Damian Barr, a journalist, playwright and writer of a memoir, Maggie & Me.
He has now published his debut novel, set in South Africa, moving between 1901, covering the effect on a family during the Boer War, to 2010, observing a radical change in life for sixteen year old Willem.
“Completely gripping and profoundly moving – you care for every character. Each of the very different stories woven together in such unexpected ways. (Maggie O’Farrell)
“A poignant debut, written with empathy … compassion, wisdom and remarkable sense of poetry, The Guardian)
A diverse range of subjects are captured in the line up for the Non-Fiction Award.
Melanie Reid has written a personal, painful memoir, “The World I Fell Out Of.” On Good Friday, 2010 Melanie fell from her horse, breaking her neck and fracturing her lower back. Paralysed from her chest down, she spent almost a year in hospital, determined to gain some movement and learn to rebuild her shattered life.
“This is an astonishing and riveting book … It is certainly frightening – a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit’ Alan Massie, The Scotsman
For those who watch real crime TV documentaries may know the name, face and voice of Dr. David Wilson. His book,, “My Life with Murderers: Behind Bars with the World’s most Violent Men” tells the story of his journey from prison governor (aged 29), to expert criminologist and Professor.
A fascinating and compelling study of human nature, Dr. Wilson gets inside the mind of a murderer to uncover what drives men to kill.
“With characteristic brilliance and admirable sensitivity, Wilson illuminates the complex causes of their horrific crimes. A page turner.” (Professor Simon Winlow, British Society of Criminology).
In the running for the First Book of the Year, is Alan Brown for “Overlander: Bikepacking coast to coast across the Scottish Highlands” Seeking a temporary escape from city life, he plotted a personal challenge: an epic cycle ride across Scotland, wild camping under the stars, on a journey of discovery all the way.
“His sensitive, personal observations on the landscapes, wildlife and people he encounters is an eloquent reminder of the wonderful country we live in. Time to get on my bike.” Andy Wightman MSP
In contrast, another debut book is about the domestic pastime of sewing. “Threads of Life” by Clare Hunter – a history of the world through the eye of the needle, from the Bayeux Tapestry and battlefields to prisons and drawing rooms.
“This patchwork quilt of history, culture and politics ..richly textured” ( Sunday Times)
The Award for Scottish Poetry Book has six books nominated including Edinburgh based writer, Janette Ayachi for “Hand Over Mouth Musi.,” With Algerian and Scottish roots, she describes family relationships and her role as a mother to two daughters. This is her first collection which gives voice to memories and imagined places.
“Her poems range from Venice to Barcelona, Adriatic Sea to airports, ‘where the choked heart unclogs itself.’ .. the uninhibited wanderlust of someone who is utterly in love with travel” StAnza reviewer
Christopher Whyte is a novelist writing in English and poetry in Scottish Gaelic and translates poetry into English from a range of European languages.. “Ceum air Cheum” (Step by Step), is his sixth poetry collection covering the topic of language and the circle of life. English translation by Niall O’ Gallagher.
The Calum Macdonald Memorial award for a Poetry Pamphlet, a slim, appetising taster. Jay G. Ying is a poet, fiction writer, reviewer and translator based in Edinburgh and his first book, ‘Wedding Beasts’ is a 20 page, hand sewn, limited edition publication by Bitter Melon.
“His peach slice, dusted in sugar, left out on the breakfast tray like an ideogram of a moon …”
Also on the list is Polygon’s New Poets pamphlet by Iona Lee – Edinburgh poet, visual artist and performer. These poems were conceived behind the retail counter of a bookshop, during loud, late night conversations, and in sticky floored pubs. Her experience of life, both painful and hilarious.
This is just a quick browse through a selection of the shortlisted books and authors. All the nominated books are listed below.
The winners of all the eleven categories and the overall Saltire Scottish Book of the Year will be announced at a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland on St. Andrew’s Night, Saturday 30 November. Full details can be found at http://www.saltiresociety.org.uk.
The winter is the ideal time to pick up a seriously good, inspiring, page turning book – a novel, biography, memoir, poetry, nature, travel, history … Happy Reading!
The Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year Award
Lucy Ellmann, Ducks, Newburyport
Ruairidh MacIlleathain (Roddy MacLean), Còig Duilleagan na Seamraig (Five Leaves of the Shamrock)
Leila Aboulela, Bird Summons
Ewan Morrison, Nina X
Polly Clark, Tiger
Damian Barr, You Will Be Safe Here
The Saltire Society Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award
Dòmhnall Eachann Meek (Donald E. Meek), Seòl Mo Bheatha (My Life Journey)
Mary Miller, Jane Haining: A Life of Love and Courage
Dr David Wilson, My Life with Murderers
Kate Clanchy, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me
Melanie Reid, The World I Fell Out Of
Kerry Hudson, Lowborn: Growing up, getting away and returning to Britain’s poorest towns
The Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award
Christopher Whyte, Ceum air Cheum
Janette Ayachi, Hand Over Mouth Music
Iain Morrison, I’m a Pretty Circler
Ross Wilson, Line Drawings
Roseanne Watt, Moder Dy
Harry Josephine Giles, The Games
The Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award
Angela Meyer, A Superior Spectre
Fraser MacDonald, Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket
Alan Brown, Overlander
Stephen Rutt, The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds
Clare Hunter, Threads of Life
The Saltire Scottish Research Book of the Year Award
Kirstie Blair, Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community
Thomas Devine, The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed, 1600-1900
Laura Watts, Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga
The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award
Norman H Reid, Alexander III: 1249-1286, First Among Equals
Alasdair Pettinger, Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life
James Buchan, John Law A Scottish Adventurer of the eighteenth Century
Malcolm Macdonald and Donald John MacLeod, The Darkest Dawn
R A McDonald, The Sea Kings: The Late Norse Kingdoms of Man and the Isles
Calum Macdonald Memorial Award
Red Squirrel, Juke Box Jeopardy (Brian Johnstone)
Tapsalteerie, Glisk (Sarah Stewart) and An Offering (Stewart Sanderson)
Essence Press, zenscotlit (Alan Spence)
Bitter Melon Press, Wedding Beasts (Jay G Ying)
Polygon, Polygon New Poets: Iona Lee (Iona Lee)
The Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award
404 Ink, BHP Comics, Canongate Books, Charco Press, Sandstone Press
The Saltire Society Emerging Publisher of the Year Award
Pauline Cuchet, Canongate Books, Anne Glennie, Cranachan, Kay Farrell, Sandstone Press,
Jamie Norman, Canongate Books, Richard Wainman, Floris Books, Alan Windram, Little Door Books
Cool, classy, contemporary Still Life artwork in the classic tradition by Nichola Martin at the Torrance Gallery
Every artist needs to study Still Life, they say, to learn the foundation basics and advanced techniques for successful drawing and painting.
Following the pioneering Flemish masters, ‘Canestra di Frutta’ (Basket of Fruit, 1599) by Caravaggio is considered to be the first Italian Still Life painting – he did not search so much for aesthetically pleasing representations but an element of reality.
The detail is painted accurately, the apple eaten by a worm, the dried leaf of the fig and dust on the grapes, developing a new way to see painting – Caravaggio depicts things as they are.
The 17th century Dutch painter, Davidsz de Heem, was celebrated for his lavish Baroque displays of fruit, flowers, as well as studies of wine goblets and piles of books.
This popular genre of fine art was later modelled and modernised by such Impressionist artists as Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Valadon and also Picasso with his characteristic Cubist style. The French term Nature Morte is not perhaps the ideal translation for Still Life.!
It is therefore most inspiring to view this stunning exhibition by Nichola Martin who graduated with a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee in 2007. Her range of subjects for Still Life, working in both charcoal and oil, ranges from lemons and limes to whisky decanters and books on art and literature
Take time to carefully observe the meticulous detail in the compilation of “Art & Poetry” (charcoal on fabriano paper). Nichola explains that she is left handed and starts at the top right hand corner working her way across the paper to avoid smudging with a gradual structured method. It is a captivating image of such realism – text, font and intricate imagery to illustrate all the book covers.
‘During my studies at Art College (I) began paying attention to the surroundings in my home and everyday objects. Almost like an autobiography or a biography, my work related to my experiences, thoughts and emotions …focused exclusively with light and dark, my Degree Show consisting of large scale charcoal drawings. The main reason I chose this medium is because of its versatility. ..whether for quick sketches or more dramatic drawings.’
Fine figurative charcoal drawings too on show such as ‘Peaceful Perusal’ where there is a slither of sunlight against shimmering shade – beautifully crafted.
‘My portraits which are mostly life size charcoal drawings, dispense with the relationship between myself and the sitter. I prefer to catch my subjects unaware, presenting their most private moments, those spent alone.’
Also see the extraordinary ability to create the texture of clothing, skin and hair in ‘Silent Study,’ – most evocative.
Nichola has also developed a love of working with oils on paper. A library of books is a recurring theme, handled with such dexterity in ‘A History of Art’ – a marvellous colourful display of biographical guides to art from Caravaaggio to Warhol, with exceptional photorealism.
The jumble of books on the floor in ‘A History of Art 11’ adds a touch of humour, as if the owner has moved house and trying to find an assemblage of order to the collection. The illustrations from fashion models and “Chop Suey” by Edward Hopper to abstract paintings are exquisitely done.
At college, Nichola was inspired by and studed the works of Caravaggio, M C Escher, William Kentridge, Lewis Chamberlain as well as Vincent Desiderio, (American, born 1955), who was the subject of her 4th year dissertation. A selection of a student’s essential books is given pride of place on the shelf in ‘The Art Lover.’
Those with a fondness of Scotch would be happy to have ‘The Whisky Connoisseur’ on the wall. A simple but effective display of a crystal tumbler, pewter jug, bottle of Highland Park and associated books, such as the well thumbed copy of “Whisky Galore.”
If your tipple is more akin to Cocktails, there are superb paintings of a Martini, in which the depiction of glass, spirit, vemouth with garnish of olives or lemon peel glistens with a glossy shaft of light – you feel you could just pick up the glass off the canvas and take a sip!.
The European Old Masters studied and pefected a vision of inanimate objects as an artistic genre. Nichola Martin clearly shows her exemplary skills to observe everyday objects and create an intimate sense of realism. There is such a mood of stillness – glasses, bottles, books as well as female figures – are all captured as if in a theatrical scene, frozen in a moment of time. Cool, classy, contemporary masterpieces in the classic tradition.
Also at The Torrance Gallery in the front studio, is a marvellous collection of city, land and seascapes by Stuart Herd, taking the viewer on a journey from Edinburgh and North Berwick to Caithness and the Hebrides.
An exhibition of works by Stuart Herd and Nichola Martin
The Torrance Gallery, 36 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JN
Saturday 2 November to Saturday 16 November, 2019
Monday to Friday, 11am-6pm. Saturday, 10.30am -4pm.
The Scottish Portrait Awards 2019: Every Face tells a Story in an exhibition of Fine Art and Photography
From the Mona Lisa and Marilyn Monroe to The Afgan Girl, the art of portraiture, by paint brush or camera lens, has created iconic, timeless images. Out of hundreds of entries received for the 2019 Scottish Portrait Awards, the judges have shortlisted six portraits for the £5,000 Scottish Portrait Award in Fine Art as well as six works selected for the £3,000 Richard Coward SPA in Photography. In addition there is £500 presented to the Young Fine Artist and Young Photographer Awards.
The Scottish Portrait Awards. established in 2017, is open to any artist aged 16 or over, born, living or studying in Scotland: fine art can be submitted in either 2D or 3D medium or alternatively black and white images for the Richard Coward Photography Award.
Here is a browse around a select few of the impressive shortlisted Fine Portraits:
Michael Youds graduated in 2005 with a first class degree in Fine Art from Lancaster University where he won the Agnes Eccles award for the most promising artist. Now based in Edinburgh, his paintings have been shown at the Royal Scottish Academy and Visual Arts Scotland. An extremely diverse artist, he specialises in Still Life (quirky subjects from chocolate biscuits to Superhero toys) – and Portraits, receiving commissions from Jack Straw, MP, and John Leighton, Director General of the National Galleries of Scotland. I was Blue, He was Red is charming portrait of the artist with his twin brother David wearing the colours they were dressed in as babies so their parents could tell them apart. Dressed in shorts and T shirts, it’s a nostalgic homely scene as if they are back in their childhood.
Li Huang studied at Duncan at Jordanstone college and his degree show focused on portraiture: “I paint artists from life instead of from photos …. and therefore depict sadness and perplexity in their faces. ..I like to establish an emotional contact between the figure and the viewer.”
Kinship captures a truly emotional image of his mother depicting “her amiable and tenacious personality – always the motivation of my life.” He returned to his family home in China for the summer vacation sharing stories and recollecting memories his late father. He started the portrait of her there, completing it in his other home, Dundee.
Born in Australia, Mark Roscoe studied Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Following success at the 1998 BP Portrait Award he has established a great reputation as a portrait painter, with numerous commissions for private and corporate clients. Awards include the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture and the Jackson Open Painting Prize.
Mark Roscoe’s Self Portrait 2019 has a backdrop of a brick wall, the artist is depicted with such intricate detail from eyebrows and designer stubble to smart casual fashion style, staring seriously at the viewer. “I’m wearing a Breton striped shirt as a nod to Picasso” he explains. “I work from home so my paintings have to pass ‘the family test’. Our seven-year old daughter and five- year old son are both very critical of my work”.
The other shortlisted artists for the Fine Art category are Robin Gage, Grace Payne-Kumar and Saul Robertson.
The SPA Photography Award is named after the late Richard Coward who started out as a fashion photographer working in black and white, but also added printmaking, abstract painting, etching and film-making to his skills, with a passion for literature, music, theatre and film. After a prestigious career in London, in 2007 he and his wife moved to Edinburgh, a city Richard loved, and where he was vice-president on the committee of the Scottish Arts Club. He died in 2014 aged 68, after a short illness.
“He had the talent, the sensitivity, the touch; there was a special something about his pictures; I have never been completely convinced photography is real art, but sometimes a picture touches me and I rethink my conclusion, and that is the sensation I had whenever I saw Richard’s work” – C J Fitzjames, Artist and friend.
A stunning selection of Photographs – with a real sense of sensitivity – are part of the SPA 2019 exhibition, such as the poignant, personal portrait by Brenna Collie, aged just 16. Entitled Trapped it depicts her tragic story of suffering from a sudden, serious illness.
“Two years ago, I suffered a stroke. The pen torches shining into the lens of the camera represent the doctors examining me. It was invasive, confusing and terrifying, I felt ‘trapped’ in my own mind and body. This image also captures the very beginning of my life after the stroke. I had to relearn how to walk, how to be me again.” Brenna Collie
Another young photographer is 21 year old Mark Shields. We have perhaps all noticed (and likely walked past and ignored), the men and women standing outside in the cold and rain, day in, day out, selling newspapers. Late News Final portrays one of these vendors who sold the Evening Times outside Central Station, Glasgow.
This street vendor is an increasingly rare sight as more newspapers move from print to the internet, downloaded and read on line. With his lined, craggy face and beard, wearing a jacket and glimpse of a baseball cap, his hands tightly clasped, this is an image of a true hard working, “salt of the earth” character.
Jo Tennant took up her father’s camera when she was thirteen which began her film-habit, as she explains – “A camera has been my faithful companion through life since. Love at first click: part art, part science, all to tell a story. My style is classic, timeless and documentary in style- relaxed and spontaneous rather than posed and uptight.” She specialises in weddings to capture the detail, emotion .. a day of promise, joy and laughter. Her entry for the SPA is The Eve of Women’s Day, an exhilarating snapshot of Jenny snapped on a winter’s day, the eve of International Women’s Day as she braves the elements and ice cold sea.
“This portrait of Jenny in the sea speaks of daring, joy, belonging” says Jo. Such a lovely happy expression with a grinning smile, her features given a slightly fuzzy, out of focus image is most inspired, with a group of swimmers bobbing around behind her amidst the rolling waves.
Other exceptional photographs in the running for the award are by John Post, Ruby Rose O’Neill and Simon Murphy.
The judges for the Fine Art Potraits include the artist and writer John Byrne, Scottish contemporary artist Gordon Mitchell; the deputy director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Imogen Gibbon; owner of the Scottish Gallery, Guy Peploe and the painter Jennifer Macrae. Photographs were selected by Ben Harman of Stills Gallery, photographer Robin Gillanders, Malcolm Dickson from Street Level Photoworks and Siobhán Coward.
The winners of this year’s Scottish Portrait Awards for Fine Art and Photography will be announced on Wednesday 13 November, 2019
The exhibition of sixty portraits – including the twelve shortlisted works – is on show at the Scottish Arts Club, 24 Rutland Square, Edinburgh EH1 2BW from 2-30 November 2019. Open Monday to Saturday, 2 – 5pm.
SPA on tour: Glasgow Art Club from 16 January to 15 February 2020 and the Kirkcudbright Galleries from 14 March to 24 May 2020.
Bienvenue to the 27th French Film Festival UK 2019: the Crème de la Crème of new and classic movies
The 27th edition of La Fete du Cinema UK officially kicks off on Friday 1st November at the Glasgow Film Theatre at the start of an enticing cultural feast offering 62 films with 240 screenings around 38 independent cinemas over the next 45 days.
This is a truly ambitious Movie Roadshow travelling far and wide from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Dundee and Dunoon to Skye and Shetland, Birmingham and Bristol, Cambridge and Chichester to London and Belfast as well as two dozen other cities and towns across the UK.
The programme is breathtaking in its diversity from new releases to vintage classics with drama, comedy, romance, animation, shorts and documentaries. Guest actors, directors and writers will give a talk at selected screenings.
Richard Mowe, Festival Director and Co-Founder, commented: “We are thrilled to have one of the most varied and vibrant programmes ever at this year’s French Film Festival … (to) illustrate that culture and human understanding and cooperation ignores current political vagaries and knows no boundaries.”
The Festival was first launched in December 1992 in Edinburgh to showcase a cultural element to the Summit of the European Council. It has matured like a rich, fruity Burgundy since then and this year offers a handpicked, crème de la crème of French-language cinema from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec and Francophone Africa.
The Panorama section features new titles with well known names from French cinema still in their prime. Highly recommended is Le Brio a bittersweet narrative set in Paris starring Daniel Auteuil as Professor Pierre Mazard who is given the tricky task of tutoring Neila, a rather scatty, stubborn French-Arabian law student to take part in a national debating contest.
He explains that the truth doesn’t matter – it’s about being right. As long as your argumentation is on point, you are able to convince people. Their clash of personality and background is akin to Professor Higgins trying to teach Eliza Doolittle to become an upper class young lady. The battle of intellectual wits and growing relationship between Pierre and Neila is a joy to observe, oozing satirical wit and philosophical wisdom.
Grande dame Catherine Deneuve, now aged 76, is renowned for a long career from Belle de Jour to 8 Femmes. She leads the cast in Fete de Famille, a comedy with a dramatic twist, set around the mother’s 70th birthday celebrated by a large gathering of children and grandchildren.
Deux Moi (Somewhere, Somewhere) is a Parisian romance in which two thirty year olds are both looking for love in opposite directions. The plot reads like a Gallic version of Serendipity/When Harry Met Sally for 2019.
The Discovery genre introduces new directors making a name for themselves. Launching the FFF at Edinburgh Filmhouse on 8th November is La Belle Epoque by actor/writer Nichols Bedos, (his second movie). Daniel Auteuil plays Victor, disillusioned with life and marriage, is given the chance to take a fantasy time travel trip in which he goes back 40 years to experience a most memorable week.
The generation gap is exposed in a quirky, classy comedy, Alice et Le Maire in which Alice, a bright young academic tries to update the old fashioned ideals of the Mayor of Lyon. A crime thriller is the essence of drama and here we have Une Intime Conviction, a debut feature by Antoine Raimbaul. The plot surrounds the murder trial of Jacques Viguier, accused of killing his wife in 2000. With little evidence, will he ever be convicted.?
Paris has been the fashion capital of the Western world for centuries, Haute Couture from Chanel to Dior. Two Documentaries take a look behind the scenes of the catwalk. Jean Paul Gaultier, Freak and Chic, unveils the crazy creative costumes by the designer known as the enfant terrible of punk fashion.
Olivier Meyrou began filming his documentary, Yves Saint Laurent, the Last Collections in 1999, before his fashion house was sold to Gucci. This reveals the story of the legendary Yves, “the man, the myth, the marque”. Due to legal reasons, this film was only released in 2018.
A festival is not a festival without a touch of nostalgia. Under Classics is a screening of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956), with Gind Lollobrigida, Anthony Quinn, Alain Cuny and Robert Hirsch, directed by Jean Delannoy.
“ ….theatrical magic, singing, the acting, the lighting, set design, a masterpiece of the performing arts.”
La Piscine was an instant box office hit in 1969 and now restored for its 50th anniversary. Here are Alain Delon and Romy Schneider as glamorous lovers on vacation in St. Tropez, when a teenage girl comes to stay, played by a young Jane Birkin: sun, sea and sex with dark shadows lurking beneath the gloss and glamour. With a 100% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is a must-see movie.
At the London Regent Street Cinema on Sunday 8 December is the chance to see Nana by Jean Renoir, a silent movie from 1926, based on the Emile Zola novel. It’s the story of the vivacious and beautiful Nana (Catherine Hessling, Renoir’s wife) who transforms from failed actress to courtesan, using her allure to entice men. Expect melodrama, sumptuous sets and lavish costumes. The Prima Vista Quartet will play an accompanying score by one of its musicians, Baudime Jam.
For those who like something short and sweet, there’s a choice of mini movies of between 5 and 18 minutes, covering such topics as a hibernating bear, rehearsals for Mahler’s 9th at Paris Opera and a Tunisian Football club. The French Film Festival UK is also collaborating with the Mobile Film Festival of Paris. “One Minute, One Mobile, One Film” Each screening will be preceded by a 60 second film, shot on a mobile phone or tablet.
Animation too such as Yellowbird about a flock of migratory birds from Paris to Africa, a grand, bizarre voyage via, it seems, Netherlands and Greenland.
This is just a quick glance through the colourful brochure which covers every genre and cinematic entertainment for all ages and cultural tastes. The selection of cinemas is wonderful – do visit the vintage-styled Picturehouse where you will sit in plush red velvet armchairs and next door a café-bar for movie-themed cocktails, beers, nibbles and bites. The Picturehouse is at the Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh.
Also French movies at Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy, Byre Theatre St. Andrews, Cine Lumiere London, and a host of venues nationwide so sure to be one near you.
Bienvenue – Bon Festival a tous!
The 27th edition of the French Film Festival UK runs 1 November to 15 December. For the full programme, venues and booking information visit www.frenchfilmfestival.org.uk
Pick up a brochure around all the FFF cinemas.