Lies to Tell by Marion Todd – D.I. Clare Mackay is back for another crime-busting, thrilling, twisting rollercoaster ride.
Marion Todd is a full-time crime novelist based in North-east Fife, overlooking the River Tay, but like many aspiring, talented writers – including J.K. Rowling – it has been a long road to success. She first studied music with the Open University and worked as a piano teacher, accompanist and a hotel lounge pianist. After a busy family life, (married to a Detective with Police Scotland), bringing up three children, she then had time to write short stories for magazines and was shortlisted for a Scottish Arts Council Award.
With a life long love of the crime genre, since reading Agatha Christie in her youth, she then created a feisty character, Detective Inspector Clare Mackay as the star of her debut thriller, “See Them Run” published in 2019.
On the night of a wedding celebration, one guest meets a grisly end when he’s killed in a hit-and-run. Set in St. Andrews, the ancient University town and international home of Golf, DI Clare Mackay is on the hunt for a cold, systematic, serial killer.
‘All the ingredients of a cracking crime novel: a strong female lead, a vivid sense of place, a rising body count and a twist you don’t see coming … A welcome addition to the Tartan Noir genre’ Claire Macleary, author of ‘Cross Purpose.’
An immediate smash hit, “See Them Run” was nominated for the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime debut of the Year, 2020.
Canelo commissioned Todd for a three book deal and so DI Mackay was back again in the second novel, “In Plain Sight.” When a baby girl is snatched from the crowd of spectators at a fun run on West Sands beach, the local police have a major investigation on their hands. Which of the residents of St Andrews is hiding something – and why?
And most recently published is the third thriller in the series, “Lies to Tell.”
LIES TO TELL by Marion Todd
If you have not yet read the first two in the series, like me, no problem at all as this is a stand-alone novel and it’s easy to pick up important elements of the backstory.
Early one morning DI Clare Mackay receives a message from her boss DCI Alastair Gibson telling her to accompany him on a secret mission to meet Gayle Crichton, an ethical hacker who is to investigate a serious security breach inside Police Scotland. However, Clare must conceal Gayle’s true identity and undercover work from her team at the St. Andrews station.
Meanwhile, DI Mackay is dealing with a key witness under police protection in a Safe House before an important Court case, and the report of a missing university student. The action takes place over a short time frame, 15th to 24th May, so expect a pacey, tense and dramatic narrative.
Getting to grips with the full rounded personality of realistic characters is essential to grab the reader’s attention. Within the first couple of pages, we learn that Clare lives alone with her dog, Benjy, at Daisy Cottage, with its wildly overgrown garden. At work, she wants to prove she is a competent, ambitious detective, as good as her male, macho counterparts, and dresses smartly for the professional image.
Todd has an easy, free flowing style of storytelling, with vivid descriptions such as this picture of DCI Alastair Gibson:
“ The DCI, dressed to impress in a fine dark grey suit … Giorgio Armani. His tie was knotted tightly at the neck and his shirt cuffs were held by a pair of plain silver cufflinks.”
The location setting too is vitally important for a realistic sense of place – whether Rankin’s Edinburgh or Dexter’s Oxford.
“ The Safe House was a two bedroomed flat in busy Market Street, above a shop selling what Clare called, tartan tat for tourists. The street was cobbled with a dried up fountain . .. busy with mums wheeling pushchairs and red gowned students going between lectures.”
As Mackay tries to navigate the increasingly complex, convoluting maze of criminal cases, the underlying theme is all about secrets, lies and whom she can trust. As the pressure builds up, we can see her strong minded, feisty nature focussed on the job.
But we also see the softer, feminine side, as she misses her partner Geoffrey who has moved to Boston, and her new singleton lifestyle is now akin to Bridget Jones: “She opened the fridge – a Cottage pie from M&S stood alone on the shelf .. and she took a bottle of red from the wine rack, pouring herself a large glass.”
Footloose and fancy free, enjoying many a glass of vino and Prosecco, we soon follow her tentative steps through text messages to the temptation of a closer relationship with a senior officer. Romantic encounters aside, the heart of this gripping, gritty plot line, is a murky mire of dangerous liaisons involving scams, money laundering, abduction and a gruesome murder.
Clare is a tough cop, (a former armed response officer), but she is also vulnerable, emotional woman, which is well portrayed. As she confides DS Chris West, “I don’t know who I can trust” …. “The strain of the past week, she felt as if it was all coming crashing down on her.”
With so many unexpected, terrifying twists, the reader is taken on a rollercoaster ride until the clever, cliff hanger ending which indicates a tricky romantic entanglement for Clare to solve.
As a genuine, believable, leading lady, DI Clare Mackay could easily follow DI Rebus in Edinburgh, and DI Perez & DS Macintosh on Shetland to the small screen, amidst the atmospheric setting and wild seascapes around St. Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife.
In September 2020, independent publisher Canelo launched a new crime fiction imprint, Canelo Crime.
“ I remain convinced that crime fiction offers the most exciting combination of thrills, deceit and cleverness. The best of the genre will emotionally invest its reader, and give hope that good can overcome evil, (though only with a brilliant sleuth or fearless hero in charge). We have been proud of the recognition that Marion Todd received a nomination for the Bloody Scotland, Scottish Crime Debut of the Year, 2020. Marion’s ongoing DI Clare Mackay series has quickly been established as a favourite with crime fiction fans. Keep an eye on our website for forthcoming news about Marion’s new novel, ‘What They Knew’.
Louise Cullen Publishing Director
CANELO | CANELO CRIME
“What They Knew” by Marion Todd is to be published on 11 February 2021 by Canelo Crime. The New Year starts with a death ...
Lachlan Goudie certainly knows how to communicate with vicacious exuberance as an artist, broadcaster and writer. This lavishly illustrated survey is a fascinating journey from Pagan crafts to Portraiture and Pop Art, to show how the colourful imagination of Scottish artists became a creative influence worldwide.
With 42 chapters across four distinctive Parts, there is a clear road map to follow, or dip into the historical and artistic era of interest.
Let’s start at the very beginning, as they say, 3,000 BC at Kilmartin Glen, Kintyre where you can see ancient stone Cup and Ring carvings and Standing stones across this Neolithic landscape. Similar stone circles and objects are found on Orkney. Here in 2009, on the Isle of Westray a tiny, sandstone figure of a woman was found buried in the sand: “with disarming simplicity, the artist engraved a nose, two pinpricks for eyes, transforming the pebble into an icon of Neolithic civilisation. … the earliest carving of a human figure ever found in Scotland.”
The Westray Wife” is almost Picasso-esque in its simple, naïve, deconstructed form. Archaeological sites have sourced other bone craftwork and pottery, leading to the Bronze Age and the creation of tools for elaborate brooches and jewellery.
Columba arrived on Iona, from Ireland, in 563, “an isle of big skies and turquoise tides,” a place of peace and spirituality; from early Celtic crosses and the decorative Abbey, artists have always been enticed to visit Iona for generations, to capture its natural beauty.
It is believed that the Book of Kells, the 9th century illuminated manuscripts of four Latin gospels was created by the monks at Columba’s Monastery, Iona – “a masterpiece of Christian art .. a work of transcendental beauty.”
Ancient Pictish craftsmanship is preserved around Aberlemno, Angus, with around 250 sandstone monoliths carved with symbols, crosses, figures, horses and a hunting scene. This is also the subject of the elaborately carved St. Andrews Sarcophagus, (8th – 9th century), featuring a hawk, two lions, a ram and a dog.
The Vikings arrived in the late 8th century, “to colonise the isles, Orkney .. and across the Hebrides.” A treasure trove of Viking sculptures was unearthed at Uig, Isle of Lewis in 1831, a set of 93 figures carved from Greenland walrus ivory and whales teeth – the Lewis Chessmen. It is thought they were made in Trondheim (1150-1175), and brought to Lewis by a merchant on route to Ireland, but buried in the sand for centuries.
As Goudie wittily describes these delicately engraved sculptures: “The figures resemble cartoon characters. .. the wild stare of the king, the bishops’ faces bursting with bug-eyed horror .”
Trade with the Low Countries brought “cargoes of exquisitely carved furnishings and Netherlandish paintings.” This led to the commission of Hugo Van der Goes, a celebrated artist in Bruges to paint a new Alterpiece for the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity, Edinburgh.
The marriage of James V and Madeline, the daughter of Francis 1 of France led to Royal patronage of the Arts to promote a Renaissance of decorative sculpture and classical painting.
Fast forward to the Union of the Crowns with James VI/1 of Great Britain. His son, Charles 1 was an art collector and commissioned portraits by Van Dyck and Rubens. But George Jamesone from Aberdeen would soon be hailed Scotland’s Van Dyck. To celebrate the Scottish coronation of Charles I, Jamesone painted 109 portraits of the Royal family tree and the King himself with great success.
This encouraged 19 year old Michael Wright to travel from London to Edinburgh to be George’s apprentice, before studying in Rome,“ an unrivalled boot-camp where he acquired technical expertise.”
Charles II was now on the throne and (John) Michael Wright was selected to paint the portrait., a fashionably glamorous portrayal of “a curly-wigged young man with a raised eyebrow and a spiv moustache.”
There is a marvellous narrative about the 22 year old Allan Ramsay on a Grand Tour of Europe in 1736, an early ‘backpacker’, cultural adventure through France and Italy. In the early 1990s, when Goudie was an art student, he “emulated Ramsay’s pilgrimage and spent a year in Rome painting and drawing. An overwhelming experience”.
Ramsay became an eminent portrait artist with “delicate style of brushwork and soft colour palette”, as well as a leading philosopher, central to the intellectual aims of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Henry Raeburn was advised by Sir Joshua Reynolds to study in Italy, before returning home to Edinburgh to set up his studio, painting romanticised, theatrical portraits to great effect.
Moving into the 19th century, the popularity of Landscapes soon took centre stage through Nasmyth, Wilkie and Landseer – “The Monarch of the Glen”, an iconic vision of the majestic wilderness of the Highlands.
“A new generation of truculent art students” would soon shake off tradition. The Glasgow Boys, were a group of artists (Guthrie, Walton, Paterson, Macgregor et al), who were keen to paint en plein air, depicting farming life around Berwickshire, Scottish Borders in the manner of the French Impressionists.
John Lavery went to Paris to be at the heart of this blossoming avant-garde art scene, painting “sun dappled” rowing boats on the river at Grez. Fascinating too to read about the feisty Glasgow College of Art student Bessie Nicol, who went off to Paris in 1892 to study Life Drawing at Academie Colarossi by day, and observe the decadent Bohemian society by night.
A cacophony of creative styles was now embracing the work of Scottish artists. Floral images and geometric lines were interlinked for the architectural designs of Charles Rennie McIntosh, whose modern, minimalist interior décor, created “the greatest genius … a giant of the age rivalling Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudi.”
The exuberant portraits and nudes by J. D Fergusson, elegant studies of Edinburgh ladies by Francis Cadell, Samuel Peploe’s exquisitely crafted Still Life paintings and Cezanne-styled landscapes from George Hunter, would soon lead to the collective term, The Scottish Colourists,
From an early struggle to entice dealers, the Colourists’ distinctive, timeless work continue to be a regular highlight at auction house sales today. Cadell and Peploe frequently visited Iona to paint tranquil seascapes.
Then, a fairly brisk sprint through the leading Scottish artists of the 20th century, picking out William McCance, with his bold Cubist form, and the partnership of the two Roberts – McBride and Colquhoun “celebrated as the most pioneering British Artist of his day. Francis Bacon said that he had learnt virtually everything from Colquhoun.”
The era of Abstract Expressionism would soon be the focus with bold, brash canvases by William Gear and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. Read all about the rock ‘n roll life and times of Alan Davie, whose love of jazz and sports cars informed his improvised, energetic compositions. Peggy Guggenheim bought one at a Venice gallery thinking it was by Jackson Pollock – who, in fact, would later attend a private view of Alan Davies’s work in New York, bringing the two artists together.
Move aside Andy Warhol – Eduardo Paolozzi is widely viewed as the Father of Pop Art with his collages of cartoons, food and Coca Cola adverts. “Imagery of popular culture repackaged as art.” This is ‘Meet the People’ (1948) from the series Bunk.
There’s a quick, comprehensive scamper through the careers of Joan Eardley (quirky street kids and dramatic stormy skies) and John Bellany, renowned for his allegorical studies of fishing boats and wild, red haired women of the sea.
The chapter, ‘The Shock of the New ‘ features a handpicked selection of distinguished. diverse artists – the author’s late father, Alexander Goudie and contemporary work by Bruce McLean and John Byrne.
Alison Watt came to prominence while still at the GSA, when she won the John Player Portrait Award in 1987 and soon commissioned to paint a charming portrait of the Queen Mother, complete with Watt’s emblematic tea cup.
Since then, her exemplary, cool, crisply paintings have moved from the figurative to large, meditative studies of draping, flowing fabric. Over recent years, many graduates of Glasgow School of Art have received prestigious awards including Turner Prize winners and nominees – Christine Borland, Martin Creed, Karla Black, Richard Wright.
Lachlan Goudie writes with a flowing, poetic prose to take the reader on a most inspirational, time travelling, artistic journey through the nation’s cultural heritage. With a passion and talent for art as a birthright, he has followed and been inspired by Hebridean seascapes, beloved by the Scottish Colourists, over a century ago.
“The art of Scotland has its own particular accent … in an international trade of inspiration and global creativity. ” Lachlan Goudie
‘The Story of Scottish Art’ by Lachlan Goudie is published by Thames & Hudson – RRP £29.95.
Scottish Ballet present “The Secret Theatre,” a fantastical, sparkling, Festive Fizz of a Christmas movie.
Every year, Scottish Ballet kickstarts Christmas entertainment, staging sixty- eight performances of a Festive ballet around six cities from early December to February. Sadly, it has now been nine months since all theatres closed and to reflect the company’s artistic commitment for creativity and performance, the Artistic Director, Christopher Hampson decided that the Show must go on.
The world premiere of Scottish Ballet’s first, full-length, feature film “The Secret Theatre” can be viewed in the comfort and safety of your own home from Monday 21st December.
The enchanting story is about a little boy, Leo, who embarks on a fantastical adventure as he kicks his football along a city street until it hits an old door, which opens with a screech; like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, he steps inside the auditorium of a grand, Victorian theatre, its rows of plush red seats left empty and in darkness.
The curtain opens and he ventures backstage, where suddenly, amidst a clutter of costumes and props, a cast of clowns, acrobats and colourful characters from The Nutcracker and The Snow Queen, spring into life.
They are the forgotten, dusty ghosts of Christmas past. hidden in the wings of this secret Theatre.
Jumping out of a wicker basket is Lexi, (aka, the Summer Princess in The Snow Queen) who guides Leo into a magical mash-up of fairy tales, featuring the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker Prince, Snow wolves, Jack Frosts and dazzling white Snowflakes.
Leo is spellbound, his wide eyes full of joy and wonder, as we follow his rollercoaster ride through snapshot scenes, moving swiftly between the Circus, Roma camp, Ice Kingdom and a glamorous, glittering Christmas Eve party.
The graceful, playful choreography by Christopher Hampson and Peter Darrell, flows together seamlessly, linking the scores of Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky – the glorious, romantic music recorded live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Instead of simply filming a staged production, The Secret Theatre is a genuine work of cinematography. set in outdoor locations, the Tramway, & the King’s Theatres in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Creative camera work and special effects too – disappearing dancers, flying white drapes and a magic carpet with Disneyesque wizardry.
The spectacle is captured through the intimacy of camera lens, observing every swirling step and pirouetting pas de deux, with all the fabulous, glittering costumes, in such fine detail.
The superlative performances are all the more dramatic due to the stunning close ups, such as The Snow Queen, with her ice-blue lips and the prancing peacock of a Ringmaster in his feathered top hat.
This is pure theatre on screen, blending two classical Fairytale ballets with fantastical Narnia and Toy Story– style vision and childlike imagination, all the way to the last magical, tearjerker moment.
While nothing beats seeing Scottish Ballet live on stage, their heart-warming movie is the essential, sparkling Festive treat for 2020 which will appeal to all ages. Book your free tickets now.!
The World premiere of The Secret Theatre is screened on Monday 21 December at 6pm.
Tickets are free and must be booked in advance on the website: 21st December to 24th December, 2020.
Performance duration: one hour.
Donations are welcome to support Scottish Ballet and local theatres. There is an accompanying programme, as well as a series of talks and workshops.
Created by the CEO/Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, Christopher Hampson and Lez Brotherston
Co-screen directors: Jessica Wright and Morgann Runacre-Temple.
Choreographers: Christopher Hampson and Peter Darrell
Designer: Lez Brotherston
Writer: Sam Brown
Producer: Beth Allan, Forest of Black
Director of Photography: David Liddell
Callan at 60 – An exhibition of evocative and elegant Figurative paintings by Damian Callan @ the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
As he celebrates his 60th birthday in December 2020, Damian Callan can reflect on a most successful career, specialising in figurative painting and portraits, teaching art classes for adults and children, and as the author of two books, Paint Like Degas and Paint Like Renoir.
This exhibition is partly a retrospective collection from the past twenty-five years (kindly lent by the owners), which are complemented by new sketches and paintings. The subjects for these figurative scenes are his wife Ruth, their four children, cousins and friends while on holiday in Argyll and Outer Hebrides.
Damian Callan has followed in the tradition of two Scottish masters in the genre of painting children. Joan Eardley is renowned for her iconic portraits of the twelve Samson bairns who lived near her Glasgow studio. Born in 1835, William McTaggart grew up on a remote farm in Aros, Kintyre, a memory which would later permeate the subject of his paintings: “the fisherfolk of his past and a recurring vision of children playing in the surf …rosy cheeked kids, bathed in perpetual summer sun.“ Lachlan Goudie, The Story of Scottish Art.
Here too are Callan’s painterly reflections to illustrate the family’s seaside adventures in the summer sun, between 2003 to 2014, from Skipness, Kintyre to the Isles of Berneray. These colourful “snapshot” images capture the joyful sense of freedom as the kids run on the beach, play in the sea, and gather cockles in rock pools.
There is such a tangible feeling of movement in their exuberant, arm waving gestures, as the kids jump and splash in the waves. Several charming paintings show the fun of messing about in boats and rowing a dinghy.
The process starts with photographs and from these prints, sketches are made to create a loose impression of the realistic images, and then finally, working on the composition in oil on canvas, panel or paper. Callan has perfected the inventive use of a printmaker’s roller, to add texture to the surface of the paint to depict the shimmering water and frothy white surf.
These timeless images of happy carefree days bring a real sense of nostalgia for our own childhood, whatever age we are. Children and Lighthouse in particular, has a vintage quality, reminiscent of favourite stories such as Swallows and Amazons and the Famous Five adventures by Enid Blyton.
Fast forward to 2020 and a diverse range of new work – seascapes, figurative sketches and fashionable frocks with oil paintings, small studies and prints for sale.
From the earlier style of composition with impressionistic, smudges of brush strokes, there is now a bolder, brighter approach with vivid colour and clarity.
As shown in Running In and Running Out, these are gleeful moments of youthful energy with a fine depiction of movement, in Callan’s distinctive, characteristic painterly style.
Escape is a lovely picture of a wee boy, standing in the boat as if pretending to be a Venetian gondolier, as the children look out for fish and crabs along the seashore. Again, the vision of carefree, childhood fun, evoking the nostalgic world of Enid Blyton.
Damian Callan has long been influenced by the figurative paintings of Edgar Degas, whose work he examined and explored in academic detail, to write his book, “Paint Like Degas.”
“Degas was spectacularly inventive in his approach to composition,” he says, “Movement characterizes many of his subjects –the dancers, the racehorses – .. .. the pattern and rhythm of repeated figures, the dancers in a line on the Barre.”
With similar, elegant, Degas-esque mood and manner, there is a series of beautifully composed paintings of Damian’s wife Ruth, pinning up her hair, dressing and posing in silky, floaty cocktail gowns.
These are delightful, intimate portraits of the artist’s slender model, as she zips up a blue dress and shows off her posh, crimson-plum frock – humorously described as Lockdown Bedroom Dress. Sadly all dressed up and nowhere to go for a night out at the Ballroom or go to the Ballet.
“Callan at 60” is a most impressive retrospective of his career, from the tranquil, domestic portrait, Ruth, Daffodils and Kettle, (1995), through a time-travelling trip around atmospheric seascapes to the recent Vogue-style fashion shoot.
William McTaggart painted young children to portray “an optimistic symbol of renewal and rebirth.” Likewise, Damian Callan has preserved his memories to portray family life and the innocence of childhood with imaginative vision, humour and heartfelt love.
Callan at 60 @ Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
11th – 17th December, 2020 – open daily, 11am to 6pm.
A well illustrated catalogue with an inspiring introduction by Ruth Callan is available at the gallery.
For more information, view a Gallery of images and details of Online events, see the website:
Monday 14th December: 10am, Live Virtual Tour of Exhibition
Tuesday 15th December: 10am. Artist’s Talk & Short Film with contributions from collectors
Wednesday 16th December: 10am, Painting Demonstration
‘Echoes of Existence’ by Helen Acklam: quirky, colourful Scottish landscapes, with an emotional sense of home and heritage.
Helen Acklam is a mixed media artist, working across watercolours, acrylic paintings and sculptures. Originally from Yorkshire and now living in Dumfries, she is inspired by the Scottish landscape, sea, history, archaeology, geology and myth.
This on-line exhibition presented by the Dancing Light Gallery, is an evocative series of paintings of rural crofts and cottages located around the Highlands and Islands.
From classic Victorian scenes, “Monarch of the Glen,” Highland lochs, mountains and furry coos, the artistic genre to depict Scotland’s wild, natural landscape has continued over the centuries.
Hebridean seascapes and farm Crofts, in particular, have always had a perennial, worldwide appeal, perhaps due to nostalgia, family ancestry, a favourite destination, and simply the timeless, scenic beauty,
Francis Cadell frequently visited the island of Iona to capture this peaceful, spiritual place with their isolated cottages on the seashore.
Helen Acklam brings a unique, modern, “Scottish Colourist,” painterly style to her illustrations of traditional crofts, cottages, bothies and shielings located around the Outer Hebrides.
Borghastan – Borrowston – with a population of about 50, is a crofting township on the Isle of Lewis, at the northern end of Loch Carloway
This is a charming old But ‘n Ben in Towards Borgastan – which may be in a slight tumbledown condition, with its wind battered corrugated iron roof, shabby paint on the front door and bent posts in the garden. The soft, pink-tinted clouds in the sky – maybe a snapshot of Sunset – is most atmospheric.
From the Clearances of the 18th and 19th century, when evicted crofters emigrated to North America, and the ongoing hardship of remote island life, some of these cottages are empty and forgotten. There’s a glimpse of human history here, a memory of a long lost family and small-holding farming life
From the lone shieling of the misty island
Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas,
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides. (from the Canadian Boat Song)
Joan Eardley is renowned for her expressionistic land and seascapes around her cottage in Catterline, Kincardinshire.
From these higgledy piggledy cottages in Winter Day, to cornfields and seashore, Eardley expressed her emotional affection for the colour and light of the coastal village. Painting outdoors in wild, stormy weather, she incorporated grasses, grain and seeds into the oil paint to bring the feel of the land on to the canvas.
Helen Acklam has also visited this iconic village with its curving row of cottages along the sheer cliff edge. Cottages, Catterline is beautifully composed with the layered, blocked structure – the midnight blue inky sky, white washed houses with red roofs and the flourishing green meadow of tall grasses and red poppies.
Acklam often mixes acrylic paint with inks, gouache, graphite and metal leaf for a richer texture, tone and visual effect. A sprinkle of sand from Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris, would certainly add an authentic fragment of the actual terrain and topography.
At first glance, Leurbost Loch, (Isle of Lewis), depicts a rather sad, wee house. But look closer. This is a mini masterpiece of minimalism to evoke the remote setting, the shimmer of a mountain beyond the loch and what seems like a swirl of winter snow in the sky.
A collage using scraps of paper from local old books are imbedded in some works, to represent the strong Religious faith and beliefs of the Islanders. More than just a sketch of a cottage, these illustrate the heritage, culture and tradition of their Gaelic way of life.
Blue Cottage, Labost (Isle of Lewis) is another magical “portrait” of two country crofts, the garden sloping down a hill with the remnants of what could be an ancient drystone wall and an old fence.
With a light sketchy method, there is a real character here, as if the tiny windows are like eyes and the red door, a long nose – enchanting, quirky and comical illustrations which would be ideal for children’s picture books and traditional fairy tales.
These are all real crofts and cottages which you could visit on a tour of these islands, just enhanced with vivid and vivacious colour, humour and imagination. Moreover, there is an underlying, tangible, emotional sense of place, reflecting the communities today, as well as preserving the heritage of derelict, deserted homes. The Echoes of Existence indeed, blowing in the cool, sea breeze.
Echoes of Existance by Helen Acklam
Dancing Light Gallery – a new on-line exhibition
View the paintings here: https://www.dancinglightgallery.co.uk/product-category/current-exhibition/
Visualise a painting on your wall — A Croft for Christmas!
Download the app ‘Art Visualiser’ onto your phone or iPad via the app store. https://artvisualiser.com/
Go to the painting of your choice and click the grey button ‘Visualise on your Wall’ below the painting details. Follow the instructions on your phone or ipad. Please note this app works best in daylight or with all the lights on. It is easy to use and lets you see what a painting would look like, in your own home, before you buy.
All paintings can be delivered Nationwide, Free of Charge.
For more information and enquires, Email: email@example.com
N.B An exhibition of Helen Acklam’s paintings is being planned to take place at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh in March 2021
“Christmas at the Botanics” – an enchanting walk in the park amidst the glittering glow of fairy lights and festive fire.
After enticing 70,000 visitors to the inaugural event in 2017, and 76,000 in 2019, “Christmas in the Botanics” is back again, transforming the garden at night into a winter wonderland. With the pantomime season cancelled for 2020, this outdoor entertainment offers a magical treat for all the family.
Just a short walk from the West Gate, a choral rendition of Joy to the World will put you in festive mood as you stroll beside a meadow of giant snowballs like sparkling Christmas Tree baubles.
All around, the bare winter trees and evergreens glimmer and shimmer in colourful shadows. Wander over the Chinese Hillside with a garland of lanterns hanging from the branches beside the lake with a spouting fountain.
One of the highlights is the ‘Laser Garden’, where you are enveloped in a thick beam of green, glittering fairy lights, while a white mist swirls between the trees, creating a very spooky woodland atmosphere.
Kids will love to try to catch hold of these tiny, Tinkerbelle fairies, as they dance around you and sparkle along the path. This is a magical, theatrical moment and I really felt like a child again.
Another surreal sight, is the beautifully lit, tumbling waterfall at the Rock Garden, where the trees and plants are ‘painted’ in soft shades of green and purple. With the floating waterlilies in the pond, it’s like a landscape by Monet come to life.
Turning along each path of the trail, the Botanics is brightly illuminated with installations such as a crystal, be-jewelled Christmas Tree, ‘Starfield’ featuring twenty twinkling stars, and ‘Constellations’, with sculptures of Orion, Little Bear et al.
Warm up in the ‘Fire Garden’, ablaze with flickering bulbs and flaming torches, while you sing along to Silent Night. Through each different landscape, the air is filled with the familiar classics, Michael Buble is Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Chris Rea, Driving home for Christmas and for Kylie, It’s the Most Wonderful Time.
Listening to the sharp, clear quality of the soundtrack, you would think that the performers, choirs and orchestras are hidden behind the trees!
Enter the ‘Cathedral of Light’, an arch of flower bud lights through a long tunnel with a clever optical illusion. A dazzling, zigzag display of colourful Diamond lights is projected on the architectural structure of the towering Glass Houses, choreographed perfectly to the jazzy-rock music score by Metallica.
An artistic pile of Sledges is reminiscent of the sculpture, “Sled” (1969) by the German Fluxus artist, Joseph Beuys, who in fact visited this garden a few times, for an exhibition at Inverleith House.
This grand 18th century mansion is the backdrop to a magnificent animation with images of iconic places around the city from the Castle to the Forth Bridge.
The windows of the house are like the boxes of an Advent Calendar with the dates flicking over from 1st to 24th December, as Mariah Carey belts out, “All I want for Christmas is You.”
This enchanting walk through this series of installations is like a mixed box of well-designed, glittering Christmas Cards …. but unfortunately, there is no narrative or overall theme. At its heart, this event is for families with young children, so a simple story could link these different theatrical scenes together.
The Fairies in the Laser Garden could be trying to help a lost Reindeer in his search for Santa Claus. Children could then follow a fun and fantastical, Peter Pan-style journey, flying through the Constellation of stars, land of ice, snow and fire, from the Chinese Hilltop to Lapland. (Just an idea!)
And yes, a jolly Father Christmas does makes a magical appearance with his flowing white beard and a majestic red coat, waving outside his log cabin in the forest.
‘Christmas at the Botanics’ runs at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on selected dates from 2nd December, 2020 to 3rd January 2021.
Information on dates, opening times, travel, parking, entrance gates and tickets: https://www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/christmas-at-the-botanics-2020/
Tickets prices range from: Adult £19, Member £16, Child £13 (4-16), Family £60. Carers and children under 4, free. (subject to a single transaction charge).
A Pop-up Bar serves a range of food and drink *: e.g. Mulled Wine, Prosecco, Beer, Cider, Hot Chocolate, Tea, Coffee, soft drinks; Hot Dogs, Burgers, Veggie Burgers, BBQ snacks, Fries, & Children’s portions. (* but where are the traditional roasted chestnuts and mince pies?!)
‘Christmas at the Botanics’ is produced by events promoter Raymond Gubbay Limited a division of Sony Music, in partnership with the RGBE and Culture Creative, in collaboration with Mandylights, Lightworks, ArtAV, & Liverpool Lantern Company.
It was one hundred years ago when Agatha Christie introduced the now legendary Belgian detective in her first crime novel,“The Mysterious Affair at Styles.”
‘Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible’. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, (1920)
There are 13 chapters with enticing titles: Poirot Investigates, Fresh Suspicions, The Night of the Tragedy, Poirot Explains.
This popular, iconic character went on to star in 33 novels, two plays and more than fifty short stories. “My Belgian invention was hanging around my neck, firmly attached there like the old man of the sea.” Agatha Christie, An Autobiography
Poirot’s final case, which brings him back full circle to Styles, was written during World War II as a gift for her daughter, but kept in a safe for over thirty years until “Curtain” was finally published in 1975.
The news of Poirot’s death in the novel was commemorated in an obituary in The New York Times, the only fictional character to have received such an honour.
The Hercule Poirot mysteries have been adapted with great success the cinema and television screen, portrayed by many actors from Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov to David Suchet and Kenneth Branagh, with their own personalised manner, mode ……and moustache.
It was therefore a most inspired decision of the Agatha Christie Estate to resurrect the Belgian detective and authorise Sophie Hannah to write a exciting new Continuation novel.
Sophie Hannah is a massive fan of Agatha Christie’s crime fiction, having first read “The Body in the Library” aged 12. She is an international best selling writer of psychological thrillers, winning numerous awards. Sophie created a Masters Degree course in crime writing at Cambridge University, where she is a fellow of Lucy Cavendish College.
“Agatha Christie is the greatest crime writer of all time and it is a huge, huge honour for me to be the person chosen to do this.” Sophie Hannah
Sophie presented a detailed 100-page outline for a Poirot-esque detective novel to the publishers and Christie estate, which was approved. ‘The Monogram Murders’ (2014) was the first of her four novels in this new series.
Celebrating 100 years since Poirot solved the mystery at Styles, he sets off once again to investigate a new case, “The Killings at Kingfisher Hill”.
“It is ten minutes before two on the afternoon of 22nd February, 1931. That was when the strangeness started,” begins the first person narration by Inspector Edward Catchpool who is accompanying Hercule Poirot to Little Key, a mansion on the Kingfisher Estate, Surrey.
Richard Devonport has summoned Poirot to prove the innocence of his fiancée, Helen who faces the death penalty for the murder of his brother, Frank. A clever ploy by Hannah to retain authenticity, is that the plotline of an allegedly innocent person being accused of murder was used by Christie several times: Ordeal by Innocence, Towards Zero, Mrs McGinty’s Dead, The ABC Murders, Five Little Pigs and also the play, Witness for the Prosecution.
Curiously, the rest of the Devonport family cannot know the real reason for the visit and they will pose as enthusiasts of a board game, Peepers, created by Richard’s father, Sidney, as a rival to Monopoly.
The journey by coach from London to Kingfisher Hill is not without incident: unfortunately, it takes almost 100 pages to describe a series of incidents, a damsel in distresss, lunch, a minor emergency and missing passengers before they arrive at the Devonport home. Yes, a couple of these characters will make a later appearance, but this is a convoluted start before cracking on with the heart of the mystery.
It’s the classic Country House setting where the murder took place on 6th December, 1930. “At twenty minutes to six, Frank Devonport fell to his death from the landing. He’d been pushed from the balcony. Fell and cracked his head open on the hard floor beneath.”
If it’s not Helen Acton as Richard believes, who is guilty of the crime? There were seven other people there at the time – Sidney, his wife Lilian, their daughter Daisy, her fiancé Oliver Prowd, two family friends, Godfrey and Verna Lavliolette, and the servant Winnifred.
Like Sherlock’s Watson, Hannah’s new creation, Inspector Catchpool is an assistant sleuth like a blend of the amiable Hastings and the solid but slow, Chief Inspector Japp. Poirot likes to challenge his friend, asking for a list of questions on the case, to test a methodical mind. “Precisely, Catchpool, you have hit on the head the nail!… it proceeds most satisfactorily, the training of your brain.”
The title of the novel is, of course, ‘Killings’ in the plural and so far, just one. But then the shocking discovery of a body of an unidentified woman, bludgeoned to death with a poker in the drawing room at the Devonport home. The Cluedo style setting is reminiscent of Christie’s classic, The Body in the Library, in which an unknown blonde girl is found at Gossington Hall, home of Colonel and Mrs. Arthur Bantry.
Certain members of the rather dysfunctional Devonport family are unreliable witnesses due to their eccentric behaviour. There is one marvellous character, Hester Semley, “a small bony, bespectacled woman with thick, coiled springs of white hair,” whose dagger-sharp intellect even throws Poirot on the back foot. A Miss Marple with feisty attitude!.
This is a twisting, turning maze of a plot like a complex jigsaw puzzle, where, it seems, half a dozen pieces are missing, until of course, Poirot uncovers the truth in the final flourish of a denouement.
You can expect the narrative structure, language, period style and social manner of an Agatha Christie novel, not least the impeccable personality, wit and wisdom of Hercule Poirot.
“I regard every word Agatha Christie ever wrote almost as a holy text, so I’m not going to be taking any liberties,” Sophie Hannah. “
Set in 1931, this is vintage detective fiction but not old fashioned. Crime, past and present, is a moral matter, understanding human nature, jealousy, deceit, the psychology of good and evil. The classic detective story is a world of theatricality and illusion.
So no wonder Christie’s murder mysteries adapt so well from page to stage and screen. David Suchet is legendary in the role of Hercule Poirot which he played in 70 episodes of ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot series over twenty five years.
The highly acclaimed series adapted all of Agatha Christie’s novels and short stories featuring Poirot between 1989 and 2013 and continue to be repeated on a regular basis.
The enduring appeal for Hercule Poirot has no sign of slowing down. Following the masterly remake “Murder on the Orient Express” directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, his next Agatha Christie movie is “Death on the Nile,” to be released in 2021.
The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah – the new Hercule Poirot Mystery is published by Harper Collins.
The previous titles in the Continuation series of Poirot mysteries are “The Monogram Murders”, “Closed Casket” and “The Mystery of Three Quarters.”
The quietly composed Landscapes, Flowers and Still Life by Joan Renton, RSW, on show at the Grilli Gallery, Edinburgh
Joan Renton was born in 1935 and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art where she was taught by three exemplary Scottish artists, William Gillies, John Maxwell and Robin Philipson. After a travelling scholarship to Spain in 1959, she was a teacher before becoming a full time artist. The recipient of several Awards, Joan was elected to the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1974.
This charming exhibition of landscapes, botanical studies and Still Life paintings illustrates the diverse range of subjects and artistic styles which inspire Ms Renton.
Travelling to the wild and wonderful Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland has always been her stomping ground, sketch pad in hand, no doubt. With a photographic eye combined with impressionistic creativity, “Towards Mull” is a majestic panoramic scene. The viewer feels they are standing on the sandy beach looking out across the bay to the shimmer of shapely hills beyond.
While this clearly evokes a realistic ambience, the blending of soft shades, and curving contours of land and sea, creates a misty mood.
‘Although my paintings have their origins in nature, the influences of light and atmosphere are more important to me than realistic representation.’ Joan Renton
This semi-abstract technique is also shown in “Traigh-Mhor, Tiree,” which is most atmospheric: the curving trail in the sand leads the eye between the rocks to the lapping waves, a fleck of white horses and the distant islets. The pinky grey sky of scudding clouds evoke a tangible feeling of a chilly, salt sea breeze in the air on this blustery day.
A most enchanting winter scene is conjured up in “Little Tree,” in which the black, bare, skeletal branches spread across the canvas like a spider’s web.
The bold, imaginative pattern in the foreground reveals a tapestry of the snow-covered fields and rolling heather hills behind. This striking viewpoint would be a magical illustration for a Christmas Card.
The world of nature is captured both outdoors and at home. Here are several botanical paintings such as “Jug of Flowers,” a finely crafted, colourful display with such detail in the leaves, stamens, buds and petals.
And with a more expressionistic style, a swimming swirl of translucent green, blue and amber tones in the watercolour, “Sunlit Summer.”
Edouard Manet described Still Life as “the touchstone of painting,” which tests the skill of an artist to paint household objects, fruit, flowers, jugs, glassware and textiles. “Grey Still Life,” is a quiet, cool composition to illustrate the contrasting texture of a seaside shell, garden pears and flowers on the olive-green cloth.
The renowned artist Anne Redpath, OBE (1895–1965), devised her own iconic style of two dimensional Still Life scenes and domestic interiors. Following in her brushstrokes, Joan Renton is also a master of the genre with such a delicate, elegant and decorative design.
“The moment I stop learning and exploring new avenues, I shall give up and spend all my time in the garden.” Joan Renton
Now in her 85th year, this celebratory exhibition proves that Joan Renton is still very much in her prime and unlikely to exchange her paint brush for a trowel anytime soon.
THE GRILLI GALLERY, 20A Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6HZ
Joan Renton – A solo exhibition of paintings
31st October to 29th November, 2020
Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 11.00am to 4.00pm,
Viewing by appointment: Tel. 0131 261 4264; mobile 07876 013 013
Browse the gallery of images on line: http://www.art-grilli.co.uk/exhibition.html
‘this divine quiet’ – Helen Booth: a painterly meditation on the bleak, serene beauty of Iceland, @ &Gallery, Edinburgh
This is the first solo exhibition by the British artist, Helen Booth to be held in Scotland, and features over 25 artworks inspired by a recent residency in Iceland. She has exhibited widely across the UK, Europe and USA, and in 2019, she received two prestigious accolades in New York – a Pollock Krasner award for painting and an Adolf and Esther Gottlieb Prize for Abstract Painting.
Iceland is known as ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ due to its ancient topography of giant glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs and fiery volcanoes, a wild, desolate terrain, sculptured through climate and time.
“Standing in a divine landscape has reinforced my personal belief that Nature is the most powerful force and that trying to capture the essence of Nature in its purist form is what is important to me as an artist.” Helen Booth
Feel the chill air in Abstract Landscape, 4, as soft snow flutters in icy dribbles from a billowing thick cloud stretching to the lost, hazy horizon.
Again with atmospheric realism, Abstract Landscape 7, is a swirling, whirling whiteout around the looming mass of a glacial mountain.
This raw, rugged environment is a pale palette of milky-white, cream, pink and blue-greys; the cool, crisp winter light glistens with an ethereal quality etched into frozen lakes and snow-smothered rocky peaks.
Many of these landscapes are pared down to the one essential element – water; the flow and fluidity of melting glaciers in a stream of drips as in Falling Water, with monochrome minimalism.
Also with abstract purity, a flourish of translucent spots and dots depicts the vision of glimmering icicles and a blizzard of drifting snowflakes in Frozen Water.
This seemingly simple, subtle technique is so imaginative, such as in I Think About You All The Time with its sparkling glow like Tinkerbelle fairy lights and stars in the night sky. (This stunning image would be perfect for a Christmas card or fabric design).
The use of symbolic markings is also most effective in the delicate, pointillist pattern of Silent Fall of Snow. Magical, mesmerising, meditative.
The title, ‘this divine quiet’, comes from a memoir by Christiane Ritter, “A Woman in the Polar Night,” about surviving life in the Arctic wilderness. Likewise, with poetic, painterly eloquence Helen Booth captures the bleak, majestic natural beauty of Iceland with a tangible, serene sense of place.
“Abstract Art is always rooted in experience of the real world .. .. and provides an emotional satisfaction similar to that of landscape. ” Pepe Karmel (Abstract Art, a Global History, Thames & Hudson).
this divine quiet – Helen Booth
&Gallery, 3 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6QG
Current opening times:
Tuesday to Friday 11am – 5pm; Saturday 11am – 4pm & by appointment.
www.andgallery.co.uk. Tel. 0131 467 0618
The exhibition is beautifully complemented by floral displays of Birch Tree branches and ice-dried, white Amaranthus blossom, created by ‘Flowers by Minty’, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh
“Ethereal Silence:” Paintings of Edinburgh through the seasons by Jamie Primrose @ Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
“Edinburgh isn’t so much a city, more a way of life… I doubt I’ll ever tire of exploring Edinburgh, on foot or in print.” Ian Rankin
Jamie Primrose is sure to agree with this sentiment, as he is unlikely to stop exploring Edinburgh on foot or in oil paint.
Springtime in Edinburgh, 2020 was rather a different city than usual. Like all of us, isolated at home, the artist Jamie Primrose was unable to visit his studio to work. But he could get out and about to observe, photograph and sketch his favourite places and picturesque scenes at a time of complete solitude and tranquillity.
This collection of over fifty original oil paintings, aptly entitled “Ethereal Silence,” is based on his wanderings around the city this year, celebrating Edinburgh through the seasons.
Follow in Jamie’s footsteps on those daily walks during lockdown around his local neighbourhood, Marchmont, and across the wide open space of the Meadows, flourishing in pink blossom. The magical effect of shadows cast by the sun through the trees is captured so well in such works as “Hazy Afternoon Light in The Meadows” and “Spring light on Jawbone Walk.”
At different times of the day and evening he would trek around the craggy landscape of Arthur Seat, and to the top of Calton Hill for a panoramic view across the city of spires. Explorations on foot too around the Old Town, such as the charming curve of Victoria Street, and a stroll through Princes Street Gardens in the summer sun. Primrose’s favourite places now transformed into works of art.
Jamie Primrose is a master at depicting the shimmering soft glow of dawn light as captured in a series of paintings such as “Sunrise from Arthur’s Seat,
and at the end of the day, experience the coral pink and mauve tinted clouds in “Sunset Skyline over Edinburgh.”
Not quite sure of the meteorological term for a mackerel sky, but the distinctive cloud patterns in many cityscapes brilliantly reflect a sense of movement and atmosphere.
Most impressive is “Sunrise over Edinburgh Castle,” a moment in time to catch the golden glimmer of a new blue sky day. It illustrates perfectly the poetic description of the Castle:
“.. this gigantic rock lifts itself above all that surrounds it, and breaks upon the sky with the same commanding blackness of mingled crags, cliffs, buttresses, and battlements.” J. K. Lockhart.
On this painterly journey through the year, you can almost feel the shift in temperature too, by the clarity of light and brightness of Summer sun to the icy grey chill in “Winter Morning looking down Middle Meadow Walk.”
These are just a few key highlights from this captivating and finely composed collection. The exhibition is at the Dundas Street Gallery but if you are unable to visit, you can view the online gallery and take a video tour of the show.
Limited Edition Prints:
In addition to these new original paintings, there are framed limited edition prints of The Meadows, Old Town scenes and city skylines. Also available, East Lothian and West Coast seascapes, atmospheric vistas of Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Venice, & South of France.
Jamie Primrose: ‘Ethereal Silence’
Thursday 5th – Saturday 14th November 2020
Open Monday to Friday, 11am to 6pm by appointment
To book your appointment contact: Mari Primrose
Saturday – walk in visits from 12 noon – 5pm
The Dundas Street Gallery
6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
View the works on the website: https://jamieprimrose.com/latest/index.html
Video tour of the gallery: https://vimeo.com/476041741