‘Where Sky Meets Earth’: tranquil, meditative seascapes by Janise Yntema @ The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
Originally from New York and now based in Brussels, Janise Yntema is enchanted by the wild open landscape of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. She specialises in working in encaustic, the ancient painting technique combining dammar resin, beeswax and pigment. It dates back to the ancient Greeks who decorated ships, statues and buildings and also used to create the murals of Pompeii. Encaustic literally means to ‘burn in’ whereby heat fuses the organically pure materials together.
‘Nature has always had an influence in my work. The romantic landscape and memories of places I have experienced, are a subject that I continue to return to in my work. The English Romantic painter, John Constable, is quoted as saying that painting is another word for feeling.
I would add that, for me, landscape is another word for spiritual‘.
This exhibition, ‘Where Sky Meets Earth’, covers her journeys over recent years around Scotland including Oban, Mull, Staffa, Mallaig, Skye, Portree and Ullapool. Without giving exact locations in the titles of each painting, the overall theme is the swiftly change in light and weather from dawn to dusk across the peaceful, unspoilt environment.
A hazy blue glow envelops the forest of tall pine trees along the shoreline in As Morning Still Sleeps, with the faint contour of distant hills lost in a murky mist. The perspective places the viewer immersed in the woodland, to feel the crisp morning air and utter stillness.
Before I Arise pictures the actual scene experienced on an early morning walk along the bay in Oban, as she describes: ‘I find the moments before dawn mystical.’ There’s an extraordinary photographic quality to the dark silhouette of shapely islands, and the shimmering light softly reflected on the flat calm water.
With the sea reduced to a sweep of brushstrokes, the focus is entirely on the fiery, coral- tinted clouds in Red Sky at Dawn. Textured layers of oil paint and bees wax create a semi-transparent glossy, glowing sheen, the pale colour palette of blueish-greys merging across the indistinctive horizon with the flow and fluidity between sky and sea.
A glimmer of the day’s dying light is captured in Evening’s Hush, much more of an impressionistic abstracted composition in which tonal colour and diffused light mingle in a swirling mass of the elements – air, cloud, water, earth. With the effect of a smirr of rain it’s powerfully atmospheric to illustrate the emptiness and expanse of the wide open sky and sea.
‘I am at my most inspired when I think of the poetry that is nature … a search for tranquillity ..the warmth of the sun’s last light and whisper of the breeze … a sense of memory, the shifting line between what was, what will be and what has been envisioned.’
A placid, poetic seascape is calmly and quietly envisioned in Listen to the Wind. This dreamlike composition captures a meditative moment of silence and solitude with such melancholic mood and soft, subtle luminosity.
Observing land and sea, hills and horizons, Janise is always captivated by the shifting light and scurrying clouds across the sky, taking photographs as an aide-memoire to recreate the meteorological magic as witnessed in Stories from Clouds (see below).
With a philosophical, aesthetic vision, Janise Yntema shares the emotional response of the Romantic poets and painters to the surreal, sublime beauty of the natural world.
This superlative exhibition of majestic, moody paintings document with delicate detail ‘the earth’s fragile beauty,’ reflecting time, space and place – all at once, realistic, lyrical and imagined.
‘…a sense sublime,
Of something far more deeply interfused,
… the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky.’
William Wordsworth: from “On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye, July 13, 1798”
The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Where Sky Meets Earth: Janise Yntema
2 – 25 March, 2023: Tuesday to Friday 11-6pm. Saturday 11-2pm
Illustrated exhibition catalogue available, £10.
‘Gazing Heart’: lyrical, abstract Scottish landscapes by Mary Morrison at &Gallery, Edinburgh.
Mary Morrison is a brilliantly perceptive artist from the Outer Hebrides who explores the intimate sense of place, space and light as observed around these islands in her paintings.
The exhibition title ‘Gazing Heart’ is from a poem by W.B. Yeats ‘In Memory of Major Robert Gregory’ about the death of a friend, an artist, in the First World War.
“In relation to my work it is about an intensity of gaze that goes beyond the merely optical or physical. It is about the inner gaze and recognising the direction our heart is gazing in and how what we love, what matters to us, will determine who we are. Going beyond the surface is important to me, and the intention is for these works to reveal themselves slowly.”
She is inspired by the written word, such as nature poems of the fellow Hebridean, Iain Crichton Smith, and also by geopoetics – ‘place, culture, world’ – the link between landscape and mindscape, envisaged by the Scottish poet and intellectual nomad, Kenneth White.
A curving contour of lapping waves in Tidal progression II is akin to a bird’s eye view of the line where sea touches the shore. The contrast of grey rugged rock and translucent water is so delicately detailed in softly shimmering, transitory light.
A mesmerising, mystical optical illusion in Squall/The Farthest line of Light, as a mass of drizzling mist descends over the splashing surf to create a lacy veil over the coastline cliffs. An amazing layering of oil, pigment and beeswax for texture and tone reflects the moonshine glow across the ink-black night sky.
‘Sea, immortal waters, you are the harmony around us forever.
We exist in your music,
In your blizzard of white gulls….
Wherever I am, you are with me,
In sunsets over the Minch,
You are my gaunt theme, my poem which burns in water.’
From ‘Lewis’ – Iain Crichton Smith
With reference to the Muse of sacred poetry, dance and eloquence, Polyhymnia II has a more abstract expressionist approach – an effervescent fluidity to depict the natural elements – a choreographed, floating flurry of clouds and rain dripping down the canvas, with no distinctive horizon, boundary or border between sky and sea.
‘My intention is not to depict a landscape in a literal sense but to explore in a more abstracted way the relationship between the individual and the landscape – a ‘geography of the mind’. My work suggests journeys, edges, tidal lines – always shifting.’
A dreamlike geographical map is apparent in Lost Lands II in which a meandering maze of curving and straight lines are scratched across the surface. Perhaps faint footsteps in the snow with an arc of compass pointers heading in the opposite direction, to navigate the way to a remote distant island, lost in a sea fog.
From the Hebridean seashore take a journey to the tranquil, rural landscape of the Scottish Borders. In Borders River II, the viewer is immersed in the lush green woodland, fresh, fragrant air and a sparkling, fast-flowing stream under a flash of bright sunshine. The delicate horizontal line across the centre divides water and sky with a vague shape of a gentle sloping hill.
There’s a magical, minimalist technique in distilling the realistic panoramic perspective of wild open spaces with such concision and focus. Through the imagination of a meditative mindscape – ‘memory places’ – here are just the essentials of our natural world: water, wind, earth, sky, sun and storm, amidst silence and solitude.
Mary Morrison is an intuitive, imagist, lyrical landscape artist, physically and emotionally connected to the environment, observing and searching deeper with an ‘inner gaze .. beyond the surface’, guided by her poetic gazing heart.
To paraphrase a review of Kenneth White’s writings, she shares the same experiential, symbolic vision of ‘clarity, emptiness, purity of spirit, a north of the soul, a pathless path’.
The &Gallery, 3 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG
Mary Morrison: Gazing Heart
4 -29 March, 2023 – Tuesday to Friday: 10am to 5pm. Saturday 10am to 4pm & by appointment
Artist’s Talk on Saturday 25 March, 3-4pm
A Q&A with the artist Mary Morrison. The event is free, however booking is essential.
For more information: www.andgallery.co.uk
Maman et Muses’ –figurative paintings by Elaine Woo MacGregor @ Patriothall Gallery
Elaine Woo MacGregor is a Scottish-born Chinese artist who studied at the Glasgow School of Art, (1999-2003), her distinctive work recognised through the Dewar Arts Award, James Torrance Memorial Award, Hope Scott Trust Award and other prizes. She has exhibited in the UK, USA, Thailand and most recently at the London Art Fair 2023, as part of the ‘Reframing the Muse’ platform.
Curated by Ruth Millington, and based on her recently published book, ‘Muse’, there were eight galleries of inspirational work, to reframe the muse and reclaim Motherhood as an empowered and active agent in the story of art.
‘For centuries, art by women was considered inferior. The domestic sphere was the woman’s realm and thus considered a minor subject for art.’
Hettie Judah, Art Critic; author of ‘How not to exclude Artist Mothers’.
Elaine creatively embraces her dual role as a professional artist and as a mother of two young daughters. The emotional, all-consuming experience of the early years of motherhood has inspired this project, ‘Maman & Muses,’ a series of portraits and figurative paintings featuring herself and two daughters, Carina and Ramona, her young muses.
As she explains in an introduction, picturing family life has been a traditional artistic theme from Gainsborough’s daughters to the private lives of women as witnessed by Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot.
‘My experiences of motherhood has influenced my sketchbook work and subject matter. However, I am not interested in creating sentimental art, but capturing a force and dynamism within a world of childhood.’
Elaine Woo MacGregor
A charming, intimate portrait entitled Sleep, observes in close up, her baby daughter quietly at rest: delicate soft skin, eyelids, ruffled hair, pursed lip, captured in soft light and shadow. This is not sentimental but the factual reality and responsibility of caring for a newborn, while existing, as she describes, in a strange, sleep deprived, dreamlike fog.
A most insightful Self Portrait depicts the artist, paint palette and brush in hand, her eyes looking rather weary perhaps, but also a determined look to concentrate on her artwork, with a sketch on the wall behind her.
‘Women are urged to relax, to mime the serenity of Madonnas. No-one mentions the psychic crisis of bearing a first child, of a heightened sensibility which can be exhilarating, bewildering and exhausting.
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born.
The artist’s muses are observed at home and away such as at Ganavan Sands, Oban – such a happy, carefree illustration of the sisters enjoying a summer day on the beach. The colour palette of soft aqua and flowing, fluid brushstrokes conjure up the translucent water and reflection of sunlight.
With memories of a family holiday to Iceland last year Elaine painted Maman Black Sand Beach which focusses on her thoughtful, far away, expression. She relaxes, stretched out on the beach, a copy of Rolling Stone magazine with a front cover image of a young model or celebrity. Also, note the glass of red wine. Inventive media – a blend of acrylic, pumice and Urban Decay make up, with a layer of varnish – creates the textured, black, volcanic sand.
This large scale narrative painting takes centre stage on the back wall of the main gallery space, to allow the viewer to study carefully from a distance.
‘Portraits of my daughters explore bi-racial identity, rites of passage and ambivalences of childhood dreams and fear. There is an other-worldly quality that comes to the surface, all is not what it seems, conveying a personal feeling to the subjects.’
Elaine Woo MacGregor
This is particularly evident in Strolling with Ramona, (age 4), with attention to detail: the red emblem T shirt, blue jeans, black sandals, clutching a twisted branch, her slightly bent head, eyes wide open with a quizzical look.
Elaine could have just compiled the usual photograph album of family snapshots. But instead these ‘imaginative dreamscapes’ – especially Ganavan Sands – have a hazy, impressionistic veneer like viewing the scene through rose coloured spectacles, preserving a sense of time and place.
‘My children have determined my life; since the day they were born, I never thought of myself as an individual but part of an inseparable trio.’ Isabel Allende, Paula
The artist’s Muses inspire pictorial storytelling such as the magical Guisers, the girls in Fairy tale costumes for a Halloween party, expressing a caring sisterly bond.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday 19th March, these intimate Portraits reflect the unconditional love of a mother, but also, with a subtle sense of detachment, underlying sensitivities and dramatic mood.
Most impressively, we also view Elaine Woo MacGregor, up close and personal in all her guises as Maman, woman and artist with such perceptive, emotional insight.
Elaine is now working on a new exciting showcase of work at the Expo Chicago Art Fair, 2023 with Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Chicago, USA, taking place, 13 – 16 April 2023.
Maman et Muses: Elaine Woo MacGregor
Patriothall Gallery, 9 February – 25 February, 2023; Opening times: Weekends 12 – 5pm.
Viewing by appointment, please contact 07947300794 or email email@example.com.
This is exhibition has been arranged with courtesy of the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London and Wasps Studios.
Scottish Ballet presents the world premiere of ‘The Scandal at Mayerling’ – a real life Romeo & Juliet tale of passionate love and tragic death.
With unwitting, timely prescience, (following recent Royal scandals), Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s epic narrative ballet has now been reimagined afresh by Scottish Ballet in a dramatic new touring production.
Originally created by MacMillan, an innovative, ground-breaking choroegrapher, for the Royal Ballet in 1978, The Scandal at Mayerling is based on the tragic, true story of Crown Prince Rudolf, the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wife, Elisabeth.
When he was 23, his parents selected 16 year old Princess Stephanie of Belgium to be his wife but this was a very unhappy, arranged marriage. A few years later when Rudolph met and fell in love with Baroness Mary Vetsera, his parents demanded that he swiftly end the affair, and also that he could not divorce Stephanie.
On the morning of January 30, 1889, the bodies of Rudolf, aged 30, and Mary, aged just 17, were found at the Hunting lodge, Mayerling in the woods outside Vienna. The scandal of the affair and apparent suicide pact was immediately hushed up by the Austrian Royal family. As heir to the throne, Rudolf’s death, publicly announced as a heart attack, left the succession in jeopardy, dividing the Hapsburg empire which ultimately led to the Great War in 1914.
The Mayerling Incident, full of mystery, murder and intrigue, has been adapted many times for the movie screen: a 1936 French movie starring Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux; Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn, (1957); Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve, (1968). The Illusionist, (2006), set in Vienna, 1900 is a fictionalised version of the royal romance.
This passionate story of real life star-crossed lovers also inspired Sir Kenneth MacMillan to devise a narrative ballet, exploring the social, political and personal background of Crown Prince Rudolf, set within the opulent grandeur of the Royal court. John Lanchbery, conductor of the Royal Ballet orchestra, suggested Liszt as the composer, selecting over thirty pieces to orchestrate into an atmospheric, lyrically lush score.
The premiere of Mayerling took place on Valentine’s Day 1978 at a Royal gala with David Wall as Prince Rudolf and Lynn Seymour as Mary Vetsera. The audience gave the ballet and MacMillan, a prolonged ovation and the critics praised the ballet’s boldness and originality: Mary Clarke described ‘.. a thrilling, moving theatrical experience’. Clement Crisp commented that MacMillan had moved the three-act ballet from its 19th century structure and conventions into the realism of modern life. And after a revival by the Royal Ballet at the Met. New York, Anna Kisselgoff was impressed by ‘great dancing, great acting on a level of sophistication and richness of detail’.
Opening in April at the Theatre Royal Glasgow before a Scottish tour, Scottish Ballet now presents a sumptuous new version entitled The Scandal at Mayerling, featuring the full company of forty dancers. This world premiere will be the first time MacMillan’s iconic ballet has been produced in the UK outside London.
The drama centres on the Prince and his relationship with the women in his life – his wife, his mother and his mistresses – dramatised through a series of intense duets.
Rudolph is a desperate, disturbed young man, trapped in a charmed world of royal wealth and privilege, seeking an escape in in the reckless pursuit of women (both nobles and prostitutes), drink (Cognac and Champagne), drugs (morphine), and revolutionary politics. He also has a morbid fascination with death. With clear echoes of another anti hero, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, he was obsessed with a skull and a revolver which he keeps in his room, as he delves into a deteriorating state of psychosis and addiction.
MacMillan’s precise and potent choreographic storytelling focuses on characterisation with psychological insight to relate a brutal account of human nature, in a way which only dance can express. With his moods ranging from desire to rage, Rudolf is one the most demanding male roles created in British ballet requiring a high level of technique and stamina coupled with strong acting skills.
However, the dancers of Scottish Ballet excel at dramatic clarity as recently illustrated in the stunning adaptations of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Crucible, based on the iconic plays by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.
“The Scandal at Mayerling” is a story rich with political intrigue, conflicting emotions, passion and obsession played out against an archaic and crumbling empire. Sir Kenneth’s choreography is some of the most visceral and emotionally charged ever produced – it demands our attention right up to the ill-fated conclusion.” Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director/CEO of Scottish Ballet .
This revival has been adapted and staged by Christopher Hampson and Gary Harris in association with the choreographer’s widow, Lady Deborah MacMillan:
“Kenneth didn’t set out to shock people but was acutely aware that in the ballet world of fairies and tutus, more realistic insights into human behaviour might prove difficult. There is a strong Scottish connection – Kenneth was born in Dunfermline – and Scottish Ballet attests to the highest aims of ballet companies worldwide, performing the best of the classics as well as looking to the future in choreography and designs.”
This bold, ambitious new production features an elaborate stage set and lavish costumes with the Franz Liszt score performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Dancers and rehearsal staff are taking part in a series of workshops with the Fight and Intimacy Direction company, Rc-Annie. Training in the safe use of replica imitation firearms will also create the authenticity for realistic theatre.
The historical mystery of the Mayerling Scandal has recently had a new twist. In 2015, a long forgotten collection of letters found hidden in a bank vault in Vienna might now reveal the secrets behind one of the world’s greatest love stories.
“Please forgive me, I could not resist love,’ wrote Mary Vetsera in a farewell letter to her mother, Helen, ‘I am happier in death than life.’
Apparently, an unknown person had deposited a leather-bound folder containing personal documents, letters and photographs of the Vetsera family, including Mary’s letters, which were finally discovered, 126 years after her death.
Dark, dangerous and daring, ‘The Scandal at Mayerling’ by Scottish Ballet promises to be a richly romantic and captivating dance drama. With a tasty flavour of the raunchy, period TV drama, Bridgerton, (with more bite), it’s sure to be a smash hit and described once again, as in 1978 as “a thrilling, moving, experience.”
Book your tickets now!
Scottish Ballet – The Scandal at Mayerling
Tour dates: 13-16 April 2022:Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 21-23 April 2022: Eden Court, Inverness, 5-7 May 2022: His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 25-28 May 2022: Festival Theatre Edinburgh
Age guidance 12+
The French Film Festival is back with Screen Horizons@ Summerhall, January to April 2022.
The French Film Festival UK is the only festival dedicated to and embracing French and Francophone cinema in all its diversity. Instead of waiting until November, an inspiring season of French and Francophone cinema comes to Summerhall from 30 January to 17 April, 2022.
Presenting a diverse range of films for all ages, from award-winners to new talent, classics to documentaries and animation. Several will be accompanied by introductions, Q&As and talks by leading experts in film and French culture.
“With the easing of restrictions, we’re delighted to be able to offer Summerhall screenings in the newly re-equipped Red studio theatre with its Seventies’ vibe. Audiences will have the chance to catch up with French Film Festival titles they may have missed the first time around. The programme really does have something for everyone.”
Richard Mowe, Director, French Film Festival UK
Summerhall, located near the Meadows, is a well established and popular visual arts and performance venue, – with a pub, brewery and gin distillery on site too – a buzzing cultural centre year round with exhibitions, drama, music, films and, in August, Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows.
And what must be the best kept secret, a brand new cinema opened here in October 2021!
The Red Lecture Theatre was previously used for the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Cinefile, French Film Festival and Cinematic, shows films every weekend as well as special events. The revamped cinema was financed from the Screen Scotland’s Cinema Equipment Fund, featuring Dolby 5.1 surround sound and DCP projection and is the only cinema on the southside of Edinburgh. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the venue screens new releases, independent films, modern horror, retrospectives and world cinema.
The French Film Festival UK presents Screen Horizons@ Summerhall.
As Valentine’s Day 2022 fell on a Monday, there is still time for a delicious sweet taste of romance on Sunday 20 February with a 3pm matinee screening of Love Affair(s).
The French title, ‘Les Choses qu’on dit, les chose qu’on fait’ is translated as ‘The Things We Say, the Things We Do,’ a classic brief encounter tale of two strangers thrown together by chance, set against the lush green French countryside. Exploring their notions of what real love is, the chemistry between Daphne and Maxime is viewed with authenticity, elegance and compassion. Directed by Emmanuel Mouret, the film has been described as a more serious Love Actually, pitching between the philosophical and farcical.
This really sounds like a smash hit with rave reviews, awards and accolades:
Best Film nomination, Césars 2021.
Rotten Tomatoes – Critics score,100%
‘ Mouret channels a cacophony of beating hearts in an effortless conversation about the universal trappings of love and monogamy’.
‘A complex romantic drama which twists and turns at every juncture’.
Later that afternoon on 20 February at 5.30pm is Hello World! (Bonjour Le Monde!) for adults and children alike. With perfect topicality in the race to save the planet, this is a whimsical animated study of our fragile ecosystem. How is a bird born, why does one come into the world as an insect, mammal or fish?
Hand crafted papier-mâché puppets with a colourfully painted backdrop interpret the life and habitats of a pike, beaver, bat, salamander, turtle, dragonfly and several birds to illustrate the amazing spectacle of the natural world.
And here a few more highlights over the next couple of months:
Oh Mercy! / Roubaix, une lumière (Sunday 27 February, 15.00)
A fictionalised adaptation of the 2008 French TV documentary Roubaix commissariat central, which followed a police officer and his colleagues in Roubaix, near Lille, as they deal with the shocking homicide of an elderly woman. The investigation has real authenticity to create a riveting, compassionate drama and among the potential suspects are the neighbours who report the crime, Claude and Marie. Grégoire Hetzel’s sombre soundtrack creates a suitably chilling Bernard Herrmann, (Psycho, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver), mood and ambience.
‘ Engrossing and well worth checking out’. Time Out
Simply Black / Tout simplement noir (Sunday 6 March, 17.00/Sunday 13 March, 15.00)
Jean-Pascal Zadi’s feature debut follows, JP, an actor and activist (played by Zadi himself) who, tired of the bigotry and racism in France, decides to organize a “Black Man’s March” to raise awareness in Paris. The politically incorrect satire is essentially a mockumentary through a series of dramatic, often hilarious misadventures. By exploring how racism remains a serious issue in France, Zadi questions whether the motto ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ is more of an ideal than a universal truth.
‘An extraordinary comedic work of lilt and sparkle’. The New Yorker
Léon Morin, Priest / Leon Morin, prêtre: (Sunday 10 April, 17.30/ Sunday 17 April, 15.00)
The French Film Festival always includes a classic programme of vintage movies which are always a joy and here is another classic in Screen Horizons.
In 1961, a year after appearing in Breathless, Jean-Paul Belmondo starred as Léon Morin, Priest, playing a devoted man of the cloth who attracts all the women in a small village in Nazi-occupied France. Holy but human, he finds himself drawn to a widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a religious skeptic. Sparse yet utterly convincing in period detail, this is a potent study of desire, religion and politics.
‘ Belmondo is masterly at embodying how Morin uses his charisma and surly, forthright charm. Riva’s emotional vitality powers the story with an oscillating vibrancy .. the accumulation of small expressive touches is as exact and suggestive as a pointillist masterpiece’. Deep Focus review
Adolescents / Adolescentes (Sunday 17 April, 17.30)
Emma and Anaïs are best friends and yet everything in their life seems to set them apart – from their social backgrounds to their personalities. Five years in the making, Adolescentes is a remarkable achievement, charting the lives of the two girls from the age of 13 to 18 as they grow into maturity. Things turn more emotive when the personal meets the political during key moments in French history from the Paris attacks to the election of Emmanuel Macron.
Melancholic and graceful, ‘ ….capturing moments of aesthetic bliss ..comparisons to Richard Linklater’s 12-year narrative ‘Boyhood’ are evident.’ Hollywood Reporter
For the full Screen Horizons programme of films, trailers, dates and tickets – https://frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/2021/front-page/screen-horizons/
Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.
The 30th anniversary edition of the French Film Festival will run in November and December 2022, as always touring numerous towns and cities across the UK, as well as an online programme. Keep up to date with all news of this special celebratory year.
Take a bracing stroll along the seashore with Fee Dickson Reid at the Torrance Gallery, Edinburgh
‘The sea is a huge part of my life. I live by it, I walk with my wee dog every day by it, I swim in it no matter what the season, and of course I paint it. It’s very much my muse’.
Fee Dickson Reid
With her home in North Berwick, just a pebble’s throw from the beach, Fee Dickson Reid specialises in large, atmospheric seascapes along the East Lothian coast. This collection has been an ongoing project for several months, as the theme emerged naturally when she was drawn to painting at different times of the day.
Hence the evocative title of the exhibition, Night, Day, Dawn, Dusk featuring fifty seascapes from sunrise to sunset, observing the ever-shifting expanse of light on sand and sea.
Just like in the Phantom of the Opera – ‘Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation, Darkness stirs and wakes imagination‘ – the ink black sky is brilliantly illustrated in a series of dramatic, moody paintings.
A shimmering glow of moonlight shines on the glistening sea in The Rain falls at Night, with a threatening storm cloud overhead and a misty whirl of black and grey clouds.
There is a most spectacular burst of light flashing across the heavens, shaped like a tornado in Shades of Night, illuminating the sheen on the surface of the gentle flowing waves.
‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky ….’
From ‘Sea Fever,’ John Masefield
And now a stroll along the beach in the cool light of day in the panoramic scene, As The Wind Blows. The perspective is beautifully composed, drawing the eye over the sea-soaked sand to the water’s edge and beyond to the Bass Rock and Fidra, with a furious flurry of soft clouds and welcome patch of blue sky.
The waves in Glengarry Point show the splish-splash rhythm of the sea water with such clarity and translucency as the curve of the bay leads out to the bird sanctuary Rock. It gives the viewer the impression of standing on the beach alone with a realistic sense of tranquility.
Fee describes how she likes to paint a seascape in one session to capture ‘the wide open sky and far horizon in all its changing light’ all in one go, instead of returning to finish it later.
The freshness of a new day on the seashore is witnessed in Soft Start where two thirds of the scene is a broad expanse of sky, with pink tinted clouds and an early promise of sunshine. The tide has just gone out leaving behind glistening pools of water.
Milan Kundera’s philosophical novel, ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ centres on the theme of living for momentary beauty. Most aptly Fee has used this title to illustrate the pure delicate light as dawn breaks over the sea with an amber gold shimmer.
Dusk: one can never tire of watching a sunset, always a peaceful and truly painterly experience when the sky is splattered in all the shades of the rainbow from orange to indigo as seen in The Light of Setting Suns.
With a sweep of brushstrokes, this is a mesmerising composition, akin to Rothko-esque abstract expressionism, as is the vivid Fade to Dusk as the sky glows with glorious shades of pink, purple and crimson.
The tidal flow of the sea clearly captures Dickson Reid’s creative imagination, and in a couple of paintings, Froth and Frills and Drop Shadow, the power of the crashing waves denote such energy and atmospheric vision.
Take visit to the Torrance Gallery soon for an exhilarating walk along these beautiful deserted beaches, to experience the realistic light, a refreshing sea breeze and the soothing sound of the waves on the shore.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide ..
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
From Sea Fever, John Masefield
The Torrance Gallery
Fee Dickson Reid – solo show
Night, Day, Dawn, Dusk
15th January to 5th February
Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-5.30pm.
36 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JN
The smart new Neighbourhood Kitchen-Bar-Garden, is the place for coffee and cocktails, lunch, supper and Sunday Brunch
The Bruntsfield Hotel, in the southside of Edinburgh is a grand property of four connecting Townhouses dating from 1861. Converted into a hotel in the 1920s, today the quiet location overlooking the Links and Meadows Park is ideal for visitors within easy walking distance to shops, theatres, cinemas and a short bus ride to the city centre.
As part of a £1 million investment, the Hotel’s former Bisque Brasserie has been transformed into The Neighbourhood to welcome hotel guests, locals, shoppers, students and office staff to meet, eat and drink, and described as “a new, exciting all-day dining, working, and socialising space”.
A recent media launch party was a marvellous opportunity for a sneak preview to sip a cocktail or two and sample the food. In the large, L shaped space, the Neighbourhood Bar is well designed for comfort and relaxation, the booth tables ideal for a couple or group of friends
As well as good selection of wines, Scottish beers the bar tenders have invented a menu of house cocktails such as the “Scottish Garden” made with Edinburgh Gin, Grey Goose vodka, Elderflower cordial and apple juice. This is so refreshing, tart and fruity ….and rather dangerous as you hardly taste the alcohol!
The Penicillin sounds like a healthy tipple to keep the bugs away – a blend of Famous Grouse and Laphroaig whiskies, lemon juice, honey ginger syrup, the perfect winter warmer, plus all the classics, Cosmopolitan, Negroni and a signature Ferrero Rocher Martini – Smirnoff vodka, Frangelico, cocoa liquor and whipped cream.
“We want The Neighbourhood to be somewhere to work and play with homely food, creative cocktails, and true Scottish charm.” Alistair Bruce, General Manager
Around the corner from the Bar is the Kitchen Bistro where Chef Colin Moore and his team serve an all day food menu focusing on seasonal, local ingredients, classic and modern Scottish cuisine.
For lunch, a choice of sandwiches and sharing plates. Warmly recommended is the Crab Arancini, a tiny, tasty light bite, and for a hearty meal, good old Fish and Chips – having sampled an appetiser portion, this was superb, crisp batter and perfect fat fries.
Other dishes include Cullen Skink soup, Scallops with cauliflower puree and Stornoway black pudding and Haggis ravioli with neeps, potato and whisky sauce. All the favourites too – pizza, pasta and burgers with vegetarian/vegan and gluten free options. And you might be tempted by Apple crumble or Sticky toffee pudding.
With the King’s Theatre, Dominion and Cameo Cinemas, a short walk away this is the ideal place for a drink or meal before or after the show.
The Neighbourhood is open for breakfast each day and at the weekend for a leisurely Brunch to enjoy a full Scottish fry up, Eggs Benedict/ Royale or Smashed Avo with Feta. Sip a spicy Bloody Mary or for a celebration, opt for the bottomless Prosecco to turn brekkie into a party.
Outside is the ‘secret’ garden, a plant filled patio where you can sit in heated booths with good lighting for alfresco drinks year round – dog friendly too after a walk around the Meadows.
As a change from WFH why not visit the Neighbourhood for a business meeting, work on your laptop with tea and coffee on tap and fast Wi-Fi for just £10 per day.
Hospitality is also family friendly with a healthy, appetising menu for children who can join in fun, educational quizzes to keep them entertained.
‘Eating at the Neighbourhood should feel like eating at your family dining table. Good food and good company is at the heart of what we’re about’.
Visit The Neighbourhood for coffee, a glass of wine, brunch, lunch or supper. The Kitchen is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 7am-1am, while on Monday and Tuesday, the Bar is open from 5pm until late.
Check all the information, browse menus and book a table here: www.thebruntsfield.co.uk/theneighbourhood
Best Western Plus Bruntsfield Hotel
69 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HH
Experience a fun, cultural, foodie, city break in Manchester this Festive season
Having visiting Manchester a few years ago, I planned another trip recently to find out what’s on, where to go and what to see during the festive season. Instead of a seasonal sleigh, I had a smooth, comfortable journey on a brand new Nova Tranpennine Express electric train from Edinburgh. There are five carriages, with 264 seats in standard class, 22 in first class, complimentary wifi and a power socket at every seat. Trolley service for refreshments and snacks, and storage for 4 bicycles. The Nova 2 trains run between Edinburgh and Manchester Airport so the ideal route if planning to jet off somewhere exotic.
As I headed south to Manchester, meanwhile my sister, June, was speeding north from London Euston on an Aviva train: the itinerary for our Christmas shopping and cultural city break began with perfect synchronicity, the two trains arriving on time, just four minutes apart at 1.23pm and 1.27pm respectively.
Manchester’s Christmas Markets have been attracting thousands of visitors to the city centre every year since 1998 to add a sparkle to the winter chill. Staying at the Mercure hotel was a great central location on Portland Street, Piccadilly Gardens, which has been transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’. This is a pop up village of Christmas market stalls and log cabin bars such as Apres Ski & Off Piste where you can warm up with an Alpine Ale, mulled wine, prosecco, cider, Nordic Glogg, Hot toddy and a Bailey’s coffee.
The markets are also located across St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, King Street, Market Street and Cathedral Gardens which will entice the skaters to the ice rink. A central stage with a series of live music events will entertain the crowds. Sip Gluhwein and sample apple strudel around the traditional German stalls, and, of course, Bratwurst – perhaps best to share the half a metre sausage!
Dine around the world from Little Spain – paella, chorizo rolls, patatas bravas and hot sangria to Mexico Joes Ltd – Chicken flatbread, falafel, and halloumi fries. Eat Greek – halloumi fries, pitta bread, Elsie Mays for warm brownies and milkshakes. French, Sicilian and Dutch dishes too. An American feast at Triple B -Pastrami Burger and a huge Turkey Reuben bagel.
The best of British at Porkys of Yarm serving Hot roast pork rolls, Hydes beers, local cider, English wines and Clowbecks for Cumberland sausage, bubble & squeak, tatties, mulled wine and lager. Porky Pig Yorkshire puddings wraps. Battered pigs in blankets. For vegetarians and vegans, Panc is a plant-based stall offers meat free sausages, burgers, fried chick’n and more.
And of course, the Markets are the place to buy innovative gifts galore – from chocolates and cheese, to toys and games, arts and crafts, soaps, clothing, socks, hats, gloves, leather bags and wallets, jewellery.
The Markets are open until Wednesday December 22, 10am to 9pm daily with some stalls continuing around the Winter and Cathedral Gardens into the New Year.
A night at the theatre to see the musical, Waitress at the Opera House, originally The New Theatre, which opened on Boxing Day, 1912, then renamed the Opera House in 1920. It was a cinema in WW2, then a bingo hall before launched as a theatre again in 1984, renowned for touring musicals such as Barnum and Phantom of the Opera. Waitress is a comedy drama set in an American diner and after the ten day run in Manchester, it’s now on tour around the country so do catch this heart-warming, feminist, feel good show if you can.
The pantomime at the Opera House this year is Aladdin, starring Alexandra Burke, with flying carpets, a genie, an evil sorcerer, magical effects, song and dance.
Warmly recommended for a pre-post theatre lunch or supper is Bill’s Spinningfields which is perfectly located a two minute walk away from the Opera House.
‘Our passion for great food, cooked with care in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Whether with friends, family or an intimate dinner for two, from breakfast to bedtime and everything in between.’
Bill’s started 20 years ago, when Bill Collison opened his Greengrocer’s shop in Lewes, East Sussex and soon added a café, a concept for seasonal local food which has gradually grown into a collection of restaurants across the UK.
The modern, stylish menu changes seasonally – quality, gastropub, homely food with generous portions and is very vegetarian-vegan friendly. I selected crispy calamari, perfect finger food, dipping the rings into the creamy aioli. Then a veggie burger, Halloumi, avocado and roasted peppers, with sweet potato fries. My sister nibbled a few olives to start and then enjoyed a real, juicy meat burger, cooked to her liking, with rosemary fries (we declined the bun to reduce the calories). With our meal we sipped one of the house wines, the South African, Journey’s End Chardonnay – deliciously crisp and dry.
This Christmas season, with the witty Wizard of Oz theme, There’s No Place Like Bill’s, you will be tempted by the enticing seasonal food and cocktail menu such as Pigs-in-blankets, Christmas Truffle Cheese Fondue Burger, Boxing Day curry, Truffalo sprouts and for dessert, sugar-sprinkled Snow Nuts or Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, a red berry cheesecake with chocolate tree, stars and baubles.
Time for party cocktails: Gin-gle Bells (Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin, Chambord, fresh pineapple), Passion Fruit Spritz and the Strawberry Margarita.
After the theatre, it was back to the Mercure hotel for a nightcap at the Level 3 Lounge Bar overlooking the bright lights of the Christmas market. The ‘seasonal’ cocktail list includes a Summer Mojito (not quite right for a chilly winter night!), and, disappointing that there was no Campari in stock for the Negroni. I chose a classic Gin Martini (but no olive garnish available), while June sipped a Nojito, a minty, fruity tipple without the rum.
Art lovers should visit the Contemporary 6 Gallery, 37 Princess Street, owned by Alex Reuben who selects a series of inspiring shows of paintings, modern prints, (Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse), ceramics and sculpture. Throughout November is the eclectic artwork of Jim Moir (as seen on Sky TV, Celebrity Portrait and Landscape Artist), ranging from a flight of birds to quirky portraits.
For a marvellous day out for all ages, take a trip to the Trafford Centre, five miles from the city centre, and easy to get there by metrolink tram. This is very much like This is very much like an American shopping mall with designer and high street stores, not least a large branch of Selfridges, as well as a cinema, bowling alley, Game arena and Legoland. After browsing the shops or seeing a movie, time for refreshments, but signage needs improved as where to eat and drink is difficult to find. The Orient is designed around the replica of a pool deck on a classic ocean liner featuring numerous bars and bistros from All Bar One to Zizzi. A huge marble staircase modelled on the Titanic leads to the Great Hall and features the largest chandelier in the world.
Drink, eat and stay at the Kimpton Clocktower which was named recently in the Sunday Times as one of the best 100 hotels in the UK. Founded in San Francisco in 1981, the cool, quirky Kimpton brand focuses on art, wellness, modern cuisine and playful style while reflecting the heritage of each destination.
The majestic Victorian red brick and terracotta building was initially the The Refuge Assurance Company (1890), which opened as the hotel on 1st October 2020. In the lobby, a bronze horse sculpted by Sophie Dickens illustrates the turning circle for the former Hansom cabs and carriages; original features include ceramic tiles, stained glass and wooden staircases juxtaposed with contemporary furnishings.
Bold colourfully designed bedrooms and suites are draped in velvet with bespoke decor and artwork by Scottish company Timorous Beasties, while vinyl records of Manchester’s famous bands from the Stone Roses to Oasis can be played on a turntable. Guests can take use of the in room yoga mat, the complimentary tuck box and many bathrooms boast a classic roll top bathtub.
Relax over a drink or Afternoon tea in The Winter Garden, an interior glasshouse blossoming with plants and trees and wine and dine at The Refuge by Volta. The Refuge Bar and Dining Room is a vast but elegant space of interconnecting salons where on a Friday night the lounge area was buzzing with happy drinkers and around the corner, the fabulous Restaurant with well designed, comfy banquette seating and half moon booths.
An innovative menu of Soul Food for sharing is neatly divided into Meat, Seafood, On the Side and Vegetables, inspired around the global travels by the DJ -Restaurateurs, Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey.
First of all it’s time for finely crafted cocktails – the Drinks list is most enticing with a celebration of gin and modern twists on the classics. Like a revamped French 75, is ‘Glamour of Manchester’:– Malfy rose gin, lemon, hibiscus syrup, Champagne. There’s an innovative selection of spirits especially speciality gins for the perfect serve such as Aviation, Gin Mare, Malfy Rosa, Monkey 47 and Ramsbury Single Estate Gin.
My Gin Martini was a masterclass of the art which hit the spot with lip smacking delight. Across the table, June selected The Queen’s Peach – Spiced rum, peach, lime, mint with a splash of prosecco – for a refreshing taste of the Caribbean.
Advised to select four to five dishes for two, we chose the ras-el-hanout scented chicken, salt cod croquettes with tartare aioli, tenderstem broccoli, chargrilled cauliflower and chickpea daal, for an eclectic Middle Eastern, Asia and Spanish culinary journey. The vegetables were perfectly cooked almost al dente and the creamy daal in coconut milk was mixed with apricots and dates. For dessert, a sticky toffee pudding was the perfect finale to a superlative meal. Hospitality by Jake and James was exemplary.
As well as sipping a delicious Sartori Pinot Grigio, the wine list tours the world to France, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Lebanon. With DJs in charge of the ambience, you can expect a lively vibe with a soothing, sassy mix of jazz, swing, funk, soul and house.
Experience the magic of Manchester this Christmas at the Kimpton Clocktower. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the gorgeously styled rooms or suites and enjoy a three course Christmas Day lunch with a glass of fizz and festive snacks in The Refuge, breakfast each day is included and chill out for a leisurely 3pm checkout on departure.
Hope this all whets your appetite to plan a magical, cultural and shopping trip to Manchester soon.
Links to help you research your visit.
Waitress: a feel-good, feminist, rom-com musical as sweet as American blueberry pie @ Opera House, Manchester (and on tour).
This popular and very successful stage musical is based on the 2007 movie, Waitress which was selected for Sundance Festival, became a box office hit, making nearly $22 million on a $1.5 million-dollar budget.
Written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, it tells the classic American tale of Jenna, a small- town girl who works in a diner but has big dreams for the future.
When producers Barry and Fran Weissler saw Waitress, they knew it would make a great Broadway show: “I saw the movie and thought, ‘This is heart-wrenching, touching and funny. An all-female creative team behind the book, music and director led to four Tony nominations including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Actress. It then played in London for a year until forced to close in March 2020 for lockdown.
Bouncing back again, the UK tour stars Lucie Jones, Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins who reprise their West End roles. The realistic stage set depicts the colourful Joe’s Diner with counter, stools, tables, booths, blackboard menu, and outside, a panoramic rural scene of telegraph poles against a blue sky.
The show kicks off in a colourful, rousing manner with a medley of songs, as we are introduced to the terrific trio of waitresses, Cal, the diner manager and old Joe, the owner, who loves to try the speciality dish of the day. Jenna is a talented baker devising her own Couch Potato and Polka Dot Peach Pies. She plans to enter a local Pie contest with the chance to win $25,000 which would solve her financial worries and escape her domineering husband Earl.
Jenna, Becky and Dawn are close workmates and loyal friends, offering advice on life, love, romance and marriage, woman to woman. With her vivacious, sunny pesonality, Becky cheers the girls up, boosting their confidence. Petite, with a high pitched girly voice, the cookie, cute Dawn is rather naive but keen to find a man on a dating site. She just needs to find someone who likes History’s Mysteries on TV.
The song lyrics drive the storyline along such as the upbeat, What Baking Can Do in which Jenna remembers how she made cakes with her mother, who encouraged her to do well in pursuit of happiness.
So with flour on my hands
I’ll show them all how
Goddamn happy I am
Sugar, butter, flour ..
Jenna cracks eggs into a bowl, sifts flour and rolls out pastry dough while she acts and sings, all at the same time with neat, multi-tasking talent.
Another passionate song, A Soft Place to Land, sung in perfect harmony by the three girls, relates how they are all determined to change their lives for the better.
The arrival of a new doctor in town quickly sparks an immediate romantic interest although unfortunately he is married. And so is she. Think ‘Brief Encounter’. She seduces him with delicious cakes and as the intimate scenes with Dr. Pomatter (Matt Jay-Willis) are often in slow motion in a shimmering light – is this really happening or a fantasy of her imagination.?
The topical narrative centres around Jenna who smiles happily, serving cakes in Joe’s diner, hiding the dark secret of Earl’s bossy, bullying behaviour at home. She is vulnerable, lost and afraid but has a strong-minded spirit illustrated in a beautiful ballad, She Used to be Mine: Lucie Jones is a true opera diva, showing off her soaring vocal range and deep emotion, enhanced with an echo effect.
If I’m honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew.
Sassy, smart and soulful, Waitress is a feel good, feminist, musical comedy with strong, dramatic punch. Fine characterisation, sharp dialogue, charming songs, witty lyrics and moments of LOL hilarity, it all flows along to the lively score performed on stage by the six piece band. Slick choreography too for the ensemble numbers with high flying pies galore.
Imagine The Great British Bake Off as a musical: expect a sweet and savoury dish, a chunk of cheesy romance and a sprinkling of hot spice, the recipe for a perfectly baked show as delicious as American blueberry pie. No wonder there was a standing ovation at the Opera House, Manchester.
Opera House, Manchester 8 – 20 November, 2021
For a pre-theatre supper, Bill’s Spinningfields is warmly recommended. Just a two minute walk from the Opera House
Waitress on tour: https://www.waitressthemusical.co.uk/