The Artists’ Pool showcase an imaginative response to Lockdown in “Times Like These” @ Dundas Street Gallery
“The Artist’s Pool was established in 2004 with the intention of embracing the power of art to bring people together and support their creativity. Each member brings their unique personality and skill set to the pool – a mixture of cultures and experiences with an harmonious goal – to promote the positivity, connectivity and healing power of art.’
In their latest showcase, “Times Like These”, group of nine artists give a personal response to finding their lives turned upside down by lockdown. When the rushing abruptly ceased, all routines fell out of the window and living in the present became the only option. There’s little normal about the ’new normal’.
There is extraordinary creativity here, a fascinating sweep of varied genres from contemplative seascapes and updated versions of classic works, to colourful abstracts and Graphic Art. Here is look around the work of four of the artists.
During World War 2, morale-boosting notices encouraged the British people to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, which has in recent years been endlessly adapted into humorous phrases such as “Save Water, Drink Champagne”.
At the start of lockdown in March 2020, the stark warning has been “Stay Home, Save Lives”. This was the impetus for Adam Lucy to invent a series of Pop Art, public service announcements.
” I would never have believed the extent of the disruption and turmoil the world would experience due to COVID-19. A bundle of art and fashion magazines and a limited palette of acrylic paints I managed to grab from my studio, provided the materials for the work you see here”. Adam Lucy
With reference to Dorothy’s dream in The Wizard of Oz, clicking her sparkly red shoes, “There’s No Place like Home” echoes BoJo’s plea to the nation on 23rd March. This neatly-crafted collage of cut-out letters and pasted images, creates a witty and wise warning.
Likewise, in “You Have the Power” a God-like figure points his outstretched finger at Everyman/woman to adhere to the rules. Reminscent of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam, the meaning is about the spark of life and humanity. These modern Keep Calm-style posters in the era of the global pandemic are effective, graphic illustrations to spread the word.
Esperanza Gómez-Carrera also uses text in her artwork made from vintage books with imaginative vision. Her father’s family were in the bookbinder business, and she grew up in a house filled with books. With charming theatricality, she makes cut out, Intervened books, such as “Love Lyrics”, which features a tiny doll’s house-sized bride and groom at their wedding.
“ I work with sculptures, installations and performances” she explains. “For the most part, I enjoy exploring and re-interpreting everyday objects in humorous ways. It is always with a sense of respect that I give books a new chance at life and share a different message.”
Also on show are several atmopheric seascapes by Helen Campbell such as the dark, threatening rain clouds in “Evening Light.” The fading glimmer of dusk shimmers on the rough waves, as the eye is drawn to the misty distant horizon.
The tiny figure, just visible to the left on the beach was apparently added at the last moment, to give perspective. There is a real sense of isolation here, this lonely soul braving the elements.
During lockdown she spent a good deal of time embracing the natural world near her home in the New Forest.
“ I learned birdcalls, studied the night sky, sat and watched the deer at dusk. I stopped and looked, slowly calming down and recalling why I love the changing seasons. These paintings come from moments in my life when I was truly ‘there’ and remind me not to lose that connection so easily again.” Helen Campbell
“Against the Light” is a mesmerising scene, where a bright, gold-flamed, surreal spectre stands staring out to sea, again denoting solitude away from humanity and society. Some viewers may find a religious connotation in this haunting image.
Inspired by the work of the classic Masters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Titian and Jacques Louis David, John Slavin has updated the narrative of historical, Biblical and legendary events for the present global crisis.
As a homage to Jacques Louis David’s original painting, “Belisarius Begging for Alms,” reflects the widespread situation of begging in city streets and metro stations today. Slavin noticed that during the Pandemic, when the streets were deserted, homeless people in Edinburgh were given accommodation and financial support.
‘Babel Tower’ is his reimagination of Bruegel’s ‘The Great Tower of Babel’, 1563.
‘I’m concerned with the fall of the tower, the aftermath of incommunicable shock and the silent nature of Babel. What are the consequences of total collapse, …. that the state is compromised, as has been the case with covid-19.”
“Times Like These” is a thought-provoking and inspiring exhibition which reflects the artists’ personal emotions, experiences and vision of this brave new, socially distanced and disrupted world.
Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
21 – 29 August, 2020
For more information on The Artists’ Pool, this exhibition and the artists:
Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA, a solo show at the Grilli Gallery: Sunny French landscapes and decorative Still Life studies
During the Edinburgh Festival season each year, the well-established Grilli gallery on Dundas Street has always presented a special exhibition to attract both city residents and international visitors. This year it’s a most inspiring solo showcase by Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA.
Jack Morocco was born in 1953 into a renowned family of artists, including his mother Rozelle, uncle Alberto and cousin Leon. He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, a broad-based degree course including graphic design, illustration, textiles, life drawing, painting, portraiture, still life and photography.
The prominent genre here are landscapes, especially around the South of France – the daily life around Uzes, Arles and Aix-en-Provence – as well as Spain and Venice. Here are most evocative scenes of outdoor cafes with locals and holiday visitors, enjoying a coffee or a leisurely lunch in the warm sunshine.
The figures in Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid may appear to be rough sketches, but there’s fine detail in the colours and style of clothes, such as the girl in a jaunty panama hat, her long legs stretched out under the table. Faces are mainly just blank smudges, but you still get the impression of age and character, gesture and body language.
Here, and also in Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, the masterly use of dappled light, softly shimmering through the leaves of the trees, creating the contrasting gradations of shade and shadow.
This technique is particularly well handled in Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Provence, featuring small vignettes of families and children, elegant couples and a dog. Again, with just a simple splosh of colour, there is such accuracy to illustrate this disparate group of people in an array of shorts and hats on this summer day.
Take a stroll through tree lined squares, from Place and Plaza to enticing fruit and vegetable markets. These have a remarkable sense of movement as the shoppers stroll around the stalls.
Venice is also another favourite place where Morocco loves to capture the water and the tranquility, where its iconic ambience, he says, haven’t changed for two hundred years.
Ponte del Cavaletto shows an old hump-backed stone bridge with iron railings, where a girl in an orange T shirt has stopped to stand in the centre, looking down to observe a grey haired gentlemen, sitting on the walkway beside the canal. He looks like an artist at his easel – perhaps Jack Morocco himself ?
So much to see here – the balcony brimming with flowers, the ochre and pink stone houses, the glimpse of a blue boat, reflected on the calm surface of the water.
In the back room of the gallery, there are several Still Life paintings, to show the diverse range of expertise, subject and genre of the artist in this exhibition. Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot is a stunning composition, where the texture and material of each individual object – flower petals, shiny apple, the fold of a cloth, glint of wine glass and polished silver pot – is depicted with such clarity, care and precision.
There are also decorative, abstract studies of musical instruments, fruit, ceramics and mini portraits, in Picasso-esque style, as in the delightful Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs.
The fine art of “Nature Morte” dates back to the Egyptians, Roman and Greek frescoes and mosaics, later developed by the Dutch masters and then popular with the Impressionists, notably, Van Gogh and Cezanne. As an evolving painterly tradition, ancient and modern through the centuries, it is essential that Still Life continues to be taught in art colleges in the 21st century.
If August 2020 has been spent in staycation mode, feel the heat of the Mediterranean summer, soft golden sand and sea breeze in a few beach scenes: La Plage en Famille and the atmospheric, Boats and Bathers, with suntanned holiday makers relaxing under a parade of parasols, shaded from the glare of the midday sun.
Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA
25 July to 29 August, 2020
The Grilli Gallery, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
tel. 0131 261 4264
Gallery opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs, 11am-4pm. Sat. 10am-1pm.
Configurate – a dazzling, colourful display of decoratively designed, wall sculpture @ & Gallery, Edinburgh
The definition of the verb Configure means to “arrange, design, adapt or put together in a particular form or order.”
Therefore Configurate is the most apt title for this inspiring showcase of highly imaginative, creatively crafted and configured artworks by four international artists.
Ivan De Menis from Treviso, Italy studied both graphic art at the Vittorio Veneto college and then painting at the Venice Academy of Fine Arts. Here is a selection of his colourful square boxes, rectangle and oblong blocks composed in Mixed Media – such as polystyrene and air ball bubble wrap – on a wooden board.
A series of contrasting three-dimensional pieces called Tessera, each have a dominant colour – royal blue, pinky-coral, green and orange – on the front panel.
These have a marvellous silky smooth, luminous surface, in contrast to the abstract patterns on each sides, with the effect of dripping streaks of ‘wet’ paint. For example, Tessera 1A9/y2 is mesmerising in its structure and surreal composition with the wildly expressionistic splash of purple, green orange like spray graffiti paint, splattered on an urban wall.
It would be difficult to choose just one of these attractive objets d’art, while a row of two or three together on your wall would create a stunning diptych or triptych sculpture, as presented in the gallery.
Jon Thomas is a contemporary artist & sculptor based in Swansea on the South Wales coast. Having studied 3-dimensional design at Sheffield Hallam University he now specialises in free standing, wall based sculptures using a range of industrial materials, Plaster of Paris, acrylic sheets, polystyrene and MDF board. Recent work has been influenced by travelling to see and study the architecture of the Maya civilisation in Mexico.
Here is a diverse range of meticulously structured decorative artworks, illuminating sculptures in the true meaning of the word. Using translucent acrylic, Saturation Point is an amazing series of yellow and red square sheets on a marble base, like a row of CDs, which shimmer, glimmer and glow in the light.
Also most impressive is Untitled, a translucent blue polystyrene 3D block, which you can study for ages, peering inside to observe the complex design of layered triangular shapes. This could certainly be the conceptual architectural model for an avant garde modern art gallery in Barcelona or Milan.
In more minimalist mode, Space Between, is a simple circle etched out of a yellow board of polystyrene and plaster, with dents and chips to denote its pliable texture.
Laura Jane Scott from London, is also immersed in experimenting with geometric form and interlocking sheets of MDF, Medium-density fibreboard, combining hard and soft woods with resins and wax to produce a hard-wearing but lightweight panel. For an artist, it’s the ideal adaptable material which can be cut to a preferred thickness and shape, with a smooth surface suited to painting resulting for a great polished veneer.
Form 20 is a series of nine separate MDF blocks in muted shades of ochre, sand, sky blue, racing green, taupe and black. Although physically solid, these compositions are akin to the precision of neat folds of paper in Origami craftwork.
Several objects are entitled Perspective which neatly sums up Laura Jane’s vision creating these extraordinary structural designs of interlocking colourful sheets like a box file or shelf of surreal books.
“My aim is always to express an idea as simply and as elegantly as possible. To strip everything back to only what is necessary to communicate that idea. My work is primarily an exploration of balance, of positive and negative space, of presence and absence.”
Laura Jane Scott
Andrew Clausen began his artistic training in his native California and then moved to Italy where he studied sculpture with artisan craftsmen. Currently living and working in the Netherlands, his selected medium is cast concrete layered onto resin bonded canvas for his architectural studies.
As in Bouwput, stone-grey is the dominant colour for this design of a modernist building, with the linear accuracy of a draughtsman. The graduation of shade and shadow gives the tonal effect of a soft background light and the viewer may be tempted to touch these ‘concrete’ sculptures to feel its apparent rough brick-like surface.
The structural contour of what could be a bridge in Van Nelle clearly evokes the density and strength of steel and concrete girders, illustrated with such detail. Clausen adds inkjet and pigment transfer images and text to the canvas, such that artistry is blended with technical mastery. As in IPKW 1 (below), these are dreamlike compositions which cleverly transform the notion of hard industrial concrete into softly focussed, decorative designs of style and substance.
Configurate – 1st August – 2 September, 2020
Clausen: De Menis: Scott: Thomas
& Gallery, 3 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG
Cap Gin – a taste of the luxurious, languid life of leisure along the Côte d’Azur, 1920s style.
The term Côte d’Azur was coined by the writer, Stephen Liégeard, whose 1887 travel guide to the French Riviera, “ La Côte d’Azur, described this ‘coast of light and warm breezes.”In the early 20th century, this sunshine coast inspired the Impressionist artists, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Dufy, Bonnard and Picasso, who lived and painted around Nice, Villefranche, Antibes and Cagnes-sur-Mer to capture the luminous colour of land and sea.
The Riviera also became a glamorous retreat for wealthy travellers, celebrity writers, musicians and socialites of the Jazz Age. Leaving Long Island, New York, in 1924, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda moved to the Villa Saint Louis, Juan-les-Pins, their residence for three years.
“We were going to the Old World to find a new rhythm to our lives. ... driving along the High Corniche Road through the twilight with the whole French Riviera twinkling on the sea below. As far ahead as I could see was Monte Carlo…when life was literally a dream.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
The so-called “lost generation” of Americans sought refuge here to escape Prohibition back home. At the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, luxury villas and super-yachts. along the coast, the Fitzgeralds, Gerald and Sara Murphy, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein and Coco Chanel – gathered for extravagant parties where champagne and cocktails flowed through the night.
Leisurely life and times here became the backdrop for his novel, “Tender is the Night”, opening with a description of the legendary Eden-Roc resort.
“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, halfway between Marseille and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-coloured hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people”.
In a letter to his friend Ernest Hemingway, FSF wrote ” ….. back on my beloved Riviera…I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one’s life seems to be going well.”
It is also a beloved, magical place for three friends, Andrew Campbell, James Auld and Adam Payne who shared a dream to reflect its cultural, literary heritage in a distinctive, dry French Gin.
CAP Gin is an expression of the Côte d’Azur distilled in a bottle, created from local botanicals – juniper, coriander, angelica Root, lemon peel, and pink peppercorns – blended with the iconic fragrance of Rose, Mimosa and Fleur d’Oranger synonymous with the coastline between Monaco and Saint Tropez.
The recipe for this premium spirit has been refined and perfected in collaboration with Dr David Clutton, who has extensive knowledge of pot stills and distillation.
“CAP Gin encapsulates the true essence of the hills and coastal fringes of the French Riviera. With citrus elements derived from lemon and sweet orange peels, aromatic Fleur d’Oranger buds and Mimosa flowers delivers a complex and elegant, yet perfectly balanced gin, of superior quality.” Dr. David Clutton.
It was an immediate success, receiving two gold medals for both Premium and London Dry categories, from the Spirits Business Gin Masters 2020. With scores of 80-89, CAP gin was judged to be “floral and luxurious” and the must-have drink this summer.
So, no wonder that I have been very keen to try this award winning gin myself. The chunky bottle is well designed with an attractive aqua blue and turquoise label. On the stopper is tiny logo of a swimmer in a swooping dive, encircled by a clever tagline, “Cap – L’Esprit de la Côte,” truly spiritual in both senses of the word.
The aroma on the nose is delicately perfumed evoking soft floral notes with a whiff of sea air, while the blend of herbal, floral and fruit ingredients are finely balanced, as tested in a dry Martini.
The initial sip is such a pure, clean taste, crisp, biscuity, bone-dry, and a garnish of a twist of orange draws out the sweet citrus tang. I often prefer an olive in a Martini, adding a touch of salty spice as a lingering aftertaste. With complex layers of aromatic flavours, this is a smoothly textured, highly sophisticated gin to be savoured in leisurely, languid fashion.
Stir ingredients gently with ice in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled martini glass
75ml CAP Gin
15ml Noilly Prat vermouth
As a G&T, what could be a better companion that Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic, infused with the oils of local flowers, fruits and herbs such as lemon thyme from Provence.
A predecessor of the Martini, the Martinez is said to be the most classic of classic cocktails. There are various stories about its origin, either invented by a bartender in Martinez, California or at a hotel in San Francisco. The recipe was first published in O.H. Byron’s “The Modern Bartender” in 1884, described as being the “same as a Manhattan, only you substitute the gin for whisky.”
40 ml CAP Gin
25 ml Sweet Vermouth
5 ml Maraschino Liqueuer
1 Dash of Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with orange zest.
This cocktail is perfectly suited for CAP gin as Hôtel Martinez is a landmark art deco building on the Croisette waterfront in Cannes. It opened on 20 February 1929 by its owner & founder, Emmanuel Michele Martinez, the son of a noble Italian family.
It was on the French Riviera where F. Scott Fitzgerald finished The Great Gatsby, and most appropriately the recent movie starting Leonardo DiCaprio, opened the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013 …….(with a post show party most likely at the Hôtel Martinez.)
Fitzgerald was enchanted by the Riviera .. ….its “diffused magic of the hot sweet South … the soft-pawed night and the ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below.”
This was his playground for work, writing, pleasure and socialising leisure. While he commented that “too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” his favourite tipple was gin as he believed it could not be smelt on his breath.
His cocktail of choice was a Gin Rickey, as introduced in chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby.
Tom came back, preceding four Gin Rickeys that clicked full of ice. Gatsby took up his drink.
“They certainly look cool,” he said, with visible tension. We drank in long, greedy swallows.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
2 oz. Gin
Club Soda Water
Add the gin to a tall glass full of ice with the juice from the lime half, and then drop the shell into the glass. Top with soda water.
Scott and Zelda were known to frequent the Bar Américain at the Hôtel de Paris, Monaco, for a nightcap – most likely a Gin Rickey or a Gin Fizz.
CAP Gin certainly does capture L’Esprit de la Côte, evoking the glamorous lifestyle of those decadant hedonistic days on the French Riviera, a century ago. Whether you prefer a refreshing G&T, a Martini, Martinez or Negroni, do try this silky smooth, classy, classic and oh so, elegant Gin. Yes, the must-have drink for summer 2020.
Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Zelda and Chanel et al, would have approved of CAP gin! à votre santé
CAP gin is distilled and produced at Distillerie des Terres Rouges, Turenne, France, available to purchase in the UK via, www.capgin.com
Bombay Bramble – 100% natural fruit with no added sugar, the “healthy” Pink Gin for summer 2020!
The best selling, Double gold award winning Bombay Sapphire Gin has recently launched Bombay Bramble, infused with raspberries and blackberries. For the purist who might assume that tinkering with the clear fresh taste of classic Dry London gin, is a modern fad, in fact, flavoured, fruit-based gins are nothing new.
Foraging Berries from the Blackthorn bush to make home-made Sloe Gin was a country custom from the 17th century, and this ruby-red, sweet liqueur was soon served in London taverns as a poor man’s Port.
The “Charlie Chaplin” cocktail featuring sloe gin and apricot brandy was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York a century ago. In recent years, Sloe Gin has enjoyed a revival through many quality brands.
Angostura Bitters was developed in 1824 by Dr. Johann Siegert, of Angostura, Venezuela, as a remedy for tropical stomach ailments. Its unpleasant bitter taste was palatable when mixed with gin by Royal Navy seamen who, by happy accident, first created Pink Gin which then became a popular cocktail from the mid 1880s. A very simple recipe – 60ml Dry Gin with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.
During the Prohibition era in the USA, creative concoctions – Asparagus and Carrot gins!?- were distilled undercover, and by the 1930s, a plethora of lemon, orange and pineapple gins were produced as pre-bottled cocktails.
More recently, a range of fruit gins have been produced with sparkling success, especially the original Andalucian strawberry gin from Puerto de Indias, Seville, inspiring a new category. Other refreshing summer drinks include Sicilian Lemon, Rhubarb & ginger and Elderflower.
Now, launched for summer 2020 is the colourful, fruit flavoured, Bombay Bramble Gin.
Bombay Sapphire, with its famous, classic blue label featuring a portrait of Queen Victoria, Empress of India, is credited with single-handedly leading the modern Gin Craze over the past decade. The recipe of this top class premium gin dates as far back as 1761 with an innovative distillation process. The botanicals – angelica root harvested in Saxony, cubeb berries from Java, liquorice from China – are vapourised individually then mixed and finally re-condensed, giving the gin a unique, balanced and harmonious character.
So what is distinctive about Bombay Sapphire? On the nose, bright, piney juniper, earthy notes, a gentle, well rounded flavour of juicy citrus with touch of sweet violet, leading to a lingering taste of lime, lemon and grassy herbs. Perfect with a Mediterranean tonic and a sprig of rosemary, or in a classic dry Martini. A cool, classy, sophisticated gin.
Bombay Sapphire was awarded Double Gold at the 17th San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It’s part of the portfolio of Bacardi Ltd, one of the founding companies of the Gin Guild to promote excellence in the production and promotion of gin worldwide.
Bombay Bramble is therefore an exciting new venture, combining the classic dry London gin infused with fresh blackberries and raspberries, and most importantly, there is no added sugar.
How to serve: 50 ml Bombay Bramble over ice, 100 ml Premium tonic water, a squeeze and garnish of Lemon. With a vibrant, vivacious shade of ripe plum-soft cerise, this is a modern Pink Gin.
“The colour and flavour of Bombay Bramble comes only from botanicals and 100% natural fruit ingredients, infusing the gin with an exclusive maceration of berries that have been harvested at their ripest moment, resulting in a unique, bold flavour.”
Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire Master of Botanicals & Dr. Anne Brock, Master Distiller.
The inspiration for this new style of fruit gin is the Bramble cocktail. It was created by the legendary Dick Bradsell in the 1980s at Fred’s Club, Soho, a concoction of dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur), which gives it a deep, fruity and sweet taste. One of the most iconic gin drinks of the modern age.
“Flavoured gin is a category that can’t be ignored, accounting for over a third of total gin value. Our refusal to add refined sugar ensures a less sweet and cloying taste, allowing the true nature of our gin to shine through by using a rich fruit infusion (in) Bombay Bramble”.
Natasha Curtin, global vice president of Bombay Sapphire
The aroma is like home made jam with underlying earthy juniper notes. Sampled neat over ice there’s a bitterness on first sip, but diluted with a splash of tonic, the blend of juicy sweet, tangy, tart ripe berry flavour shines through, with the underlying rich spicy, herbal depth of Bombay Sapphire gin.
There is a real hint of Campari too, the bittersweet Italian liqueur, so let’s see how they compare.
The Campari story begins in the early 1860s, when a bartender named Gaspare Campari started inventing bottled cocktails, with neutral alcohol, raspberry juice, citrus fruits, herbs, vanilla. Today, Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water and an infusion of oranges, berries, rhubarb, ginseng and herbs.
So perhaps Bombay Bramble Gin could be used in a classic Negroni?
Crème de cassis, the blackcurrent liqueur from Dijon is famously used in the aperitif Kir, added to a flute of white wine, or with champagne, for a Kir Royale.
Likewise, a few dashes of Bombay Bramble to ice cold Prosecco would make a refreshing aperitif.
Life’s a Picnic with a feast of juicy berries this summer says The Sunday Times (2nd August).
Bombay Bramble time!
Bombay Bramble is widely available, at all leading supermarkets and off licences, with an RRP, £23 a bottle.
The Bombay Sapphire Distillery, located at an award winning heritage site, Laverstoke Mill, Hampshire, is now open again for visitors. Book the Discovery Experience for a guided tour of the Botancial Glasshouses and Dakin Still Room to learn all about the creative vapour infusion process, or take part in a Gin Cocktail masterclass. Gift shop to purchase Bombay Sapphire gins, gifts and personalised bespoke bottles. A great day out or a weekend away with fine restaurants and accommodation nearby.
Check the website for all information on Bombay Sapphire Gins, Bombay Bramble and Distillery visits.