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‘To the Water’ – the cool, cultural heritage of swimming from pool to beach, captured on camera by Soo Burnell

‘To the Water’, an exhibition of photographs at Saorsa Gallery

With childhood memories of fun times being taken to the Victorian swimming pools in Edinburgh, Soo Burnell is now fascinated by the ‘high ceilings, glass roofs, symmetry, old signage, tiling – all reflected in the still water. There is also a lot of nostalgia surrounding them.’

In July 2018, ‘Poolside’ at Saorsa Gallery was a most evocative showcase of Burnell’s photographs of favourite local pools viewed as palaces of architectural heritage, stylised with vintage glamour.

This was the springboard to venture further afield to a diverse range of indoor and outdoor swimming pools around Scotland, UK and Paris, where she observed each iconic place with a film-maker’s eye and imaginative artistic vision.

Deep End, Soo Burnell

The British artist, David Hockney was dazzled by the sunshine and laid back Californian lifestyle when he first visited Los Angeles in the early sixties, especially the fact that everyone had a swimming pool. Between 1964 and 1971 he made numerous paintings of pools, attempting the challenge to represent the constantly changing surface of water.

A Bigger Splash (1967), David Hockney

Hockney’s series of ‘splash’ paintings are empty of human presence yet imply the presence of a diver. “A Bigger Splash” (1967) took three weeks to complete using various sizes of brushes to perfect the spray of water.

‘When you photograph a splash, you’re freezing a moment and it becomes something else. I realise that a splash could never be seen this way in real life, it happens too quickly. I was amused by this, so I painted it in a very, very slow way.’

David Hockney

Swimming in the Sun, Soo Burnell

Illustrating her own passion for a splash in a pool, Soo Burnell has just published a large format, beautifully illustrated book “To the Water,” launched to coincide with an exhibition at Saorsa Gallery (17 – 24 July, 2021). This is another stunning collection of photographs of leisurely life by the pool and on the beach. 

Here are a few of the much loved Victorian pools around Edinburgh – Glenogle in Stockbridge, Leith Victoria and Drumsheugh Baths.  The architectural design is extraordinary with cathedral-high ceilings and dome of girders like a railway station, the sunlight streaming in from tall windows and roof top cupula.

Leith Victoria pool, Soo Burnell

The setting is calm and quiet, witnessed after the shrieking children and racing swimmers have gone home. These are empty pools to reflect the tranquility of the light-filled spaces but look more closely. Relaxing, standing at the side, or preparing to dive are a few solitary figures adding perspective and touch of theatricality.  

The wide panoramic view of each pool focusses on the decorative design with the neat rows of changing rooms all around and centre stage, the shimmering, fluid luminosity of the azur tile-tinted water.

Girl on the Rings, Drumsheugh baths, Soo Burnell

The Drumsheugh Baths is a private swimming club in Edinburgh, founded in 1884 and hardly changed since then with the acrobatic rings and trapeze, large stone hot pool and Victorian showers. But they did add a Bar.!

Here too is a quirky aerial shot of a girl sitting on the step at the Western Baths, Glasgow. Come on in, the water’s lovely.!

Alone at Western Baths, Soo Burnell

When the Tarlair outdoor swimming pool opened in 1932, it was said Macduff would become a French Riviera-style resort on the north east coast of Banffshire. The bright white modern block architecture is in stark contrast to the craggy, black rocky cliff above and with its natural tidal pool too and Pavilion this was a popular visitor attraction.

No the South of France! – Tarlair Swimming Pool, Macduff 1936

Families, sunbathers and swimmers flocked to the open air Lidos around British seaside towns in the days before package holidays.  After years of dilapidation and few outdoor swimmers, Tarlair closed in 1996, preserved as an A listed historic site.

Girl at Tarlair, Soo Burnell

Dramatising these poolsides with a small cast of characters, Soo Burnell uses the lens of her camera like a photojournalist with each image telling a hidden narrative – ghostly figures and happy memories from over a century of watersport and sunbathing.

This is particularly well illustrated at the legendary palace of a pool, Piscine Molitar in Paris. Built in 1929, the Art Deco Lido regularly hosted fashion shows, galas, theatrical performances, and used as a dazzling backdrop for film shoots.

Piscine Molitar, Paris (1929)

The Piscine Molitor is described most reverently in Life of Pi by Yann Martel, a fantasy adventure novel centred around “the pool the gods would have delighted to swim in.”

The protagonist is Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, an Indian Tamil boy from Pondicherry.

‘One day, Mamaji said to my father, that of all the pools in the world, the most beautiful was a public pool in Paris. That the water there was so clear, you could make your morning coffee with it. That a single swim there changed his life. I never understood why my father took this so much to heart, but he did, and I was named ‘Piscine Molitor Patel’.”

From ‘Life of Pi’, Yann Martel (2001)

In languid, elegant pose at the Parisian piscine, these two slender models in pale blue swimsuits and white bathing caps perfect the 1930s vintage look akin to a Chanel fashion shoot.  

Pool Girls, Piscine Molitor, Paris, Soo Burnell

With great perspective, we can study the geometric structure and decorative design of the balcony, porthole windows, lines of pool tiles and shadows of the loungers.  The Lido was inspired by the grand ocean liners of the era.

I do want to be beside the seaside. The golden sandy beach at Tyninghame on the East Lothian coastline is the perfect filmic location to observe stylish swimmers on the seashore. Here are intimate soloists and chorus lines ‘snapped’ with choreographic precision in a colour palette of blue, white and gold.

Day Dreaming at the Beach, Soo Burnell

These atmospheric seascapes are beautifully composed to emphasise the shapely curve of lapping waves on the sand and the fine line between sea and sky on the horizon. Above all, you can sense the fresh salt-sea breeze in the air.  

After Swimming, Tyninghame, Soo Burnell

No wonder that the joyful fresh air freedom of wild swimming became so popular when city pools closed during lockdown for people to experience an envigorating dip in the sea. 

To accompany this exhibition is a lavishly illustrated Coffee Table book, “To the Water” by Soo Burnell which gives the full pictorial story of these and other heritage swimming pools.   

To the Water, by Soo Burnell – a pictorial journey around swimming pools and beaches

Edinburgh is basking in glorious summer sun this week so why not take a day trip to Soarsa Gallery to see this refreshingly cool collection of photographs which recreate our timeless love of relaxing beside the water.

Just look for the beach chair and towel outside and a red neon Deep End sign in the window.

Saorsa Gallery, 8 Deanhaugh St, Stockbridge Edinburgh, EH4 1LY

‘To the Water’, 17 – 24 July, 2021. 12 noon to 5pm daily.

For more information on Soo Burnell, ‘To the Water’ view and purchase images and the book:

https://soo-burnell.com

On the Diving Board, Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh, Soo Burnell

Nina Hamnett (1890-1956): the legendary, but long lost, Queen of Bohemia in London and Paris, remembered by Alicia Foster.

The vivacious, often outrageous, Nina Hamnett was a romantic rebel with a cause: one of the most respected artists of the Modernist movement through the Camden Town Group, Omega Workshop and School of Paris, her work was shown widely, including at the Royal Academy and the Salon d’Automne.

This attractive, pocket sized book by the art historian, Dr Alicia Foster, who is also the curator of a current retrospective of Nina Hamnett at Charleston Farmhouse, Firle Sussex, 19th May to 30th August.

After a strict Victorian, military childhood, Nina refused to train as an office Clerk at her father’s suggestion, and her grandmother kindly paid for the fees at Pelham School of Art.  Achieving a place to study at the London School of Art 1907 – 1910, Nina knew her vocation, “Here at last was paradise”.

Her tutor, William Nicholson encouraged her aptitude for still life – moving away from colourful studies of fruit and flowers as depicted by Cezanne, Matisse and Manet, to focus on the simplicity of kitchen pots, pans and jugs. 

As seen in several Still Life paintings from 1917 and 1919, here are soft muted colours, a delicate touch of light and shade and often with a staged inclusion of avant-garde magazines and books.

Self Portrait 1913 shows her short, bobbed hair style, artist’s smock, hand on hip with a confident stance and gaze, as if to say, “Look at me and judge my work seriously”.

Self Portrait, 1913, Nina Hamnett (London Library)

It was this year when Nina joined the Omega Workshops, a Bloomsbury co-operative led by Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell to develop modernist decorative and applied arts.  Hamnett was encouraged to experiment with figurative and abstract designs for fabric, furniture, carpets and murals. She and Fry later had a close professional and personal relationship after posing for intimate life drawings.

Introduced to the world of the French Post-Impressionists at London exhibitions, she first visited Paris in 1912, returning regularly to immerse herself in the intellectual literary and artistic social circle around Montparnasse. 

In Spring 1914, sitting alone for dinner at La Rotonde, she met a dashing young man, the struggling artist, Amadeo Modigliani, trying to sell his drawings.

Portrait of Nina Hamnett by Amadeo Modigliani

She encouraged his work, posing as a model – this fabulous iconic portrait of Nina by Modigliani was painted in 1914 – while he introduced her to Picasso, Diaghilev and Cocteau et al. Here, at the heart of this inspirational community, Nina began to sketch café and street scenes with a quirky caricature style akin to Toulouse Lautrec.

Paris Cafe, 1921, Nina Hamnett (Bridgeman Images)

Back in London, she was commissioned to paint the Sitwells, the trio of siblings who had formed their own literary and artistic clique, capturing Osbert and Edith’s theatrical eccentricity.

As Foster comments, their brother Sacheverell thought Nina’s artistry was “magnificent” while Hamnett described these as “psychological portraits that shall accurately represent the spirt of the age.”

Formal fashionable spirit of the age is captured in Gentleman with a Top Hat c 1919 or 1921, described as “one of Hamnett’s most dazzling portraits” but a shame that the sitter is not identified in this book.   This is George Manuel Unwin, a Chilean opera singer who paraded around Paris in his spats, wearing a monocle, hat and carrying a cane, and Nina adds ther studio accessories of a Moroccan rug and a guitar as a backdrop.  

Gentleman with a Top Hat, (1919/ 1921), Nina Hamnett (Bridgeman Images)

Another renowned portrait is of the ballet dancer, Rupert Doone, 1923, whom she also met in Paris; his classically handsome good looks accentuated with pink blush along the cheekbones, pink gloss on cupid lips, and given a rather morose, moody expression. 

Rupert Doone, 1923, Nina Hamnett (Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery)

In her vivacious and vital role as an unofficial cultural ambassador she embraced British and French high society through art, literature and music. Her friends and mentors included Augustus John, Roger Fry, Gaudier-Brzeska, Sickert, Modigliani, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Brancusi, Zadkine, Satie and Stravinksy.

 ‘Nina Hamnett’ does not claim to be a comprehensive biography and at under 50 pages, it’s a speedy scamper through her career with more of a thematic study of her work than covering personal and professional relationships.

There’s not a clear chronology through the narrative which concentrates on a selection of key portraits, sketches and life drawings, with limited detail of her promiscuous, bisexual behaviour and bohemian lifestyle.  Standing out from the crowd, she was a serious drinker, danced on bar tables and wore bold red, yellow or checkerboard stockings and children’s sandals with flamboyant flair. 

A meeting with Gertrude Stein in 1912, which sounds like a fascinating encounter, is a passing remark within parenthesis. Nina’s life drawing, ‘Standing Nude’ 1920 is interestingly the same title as an earlier limestone sculpture by Modigliani. This could be a tribute to the artist who had died that year but the fact that they were lovers is not mentioned.

Standing Nude, 1920, Nina Hamnett (Leeds University Library)

This tasty amuse bouche into Nina’s extraordinary tragic short life will certainly entice readers to seek out her two volumes of memoirs, ‘Laughing Torso’ (1932) and ‘Is She a Lady’ (1955). These provide all the colourful (truthful or exaggerated?), anecdotes of her travels, brief encounters and seductive liaisons dangereuses, flitting between London and Paris. Apparently, she introduced James Joyce to Rudolph Valentino.! 

“Laughing Torso” is a neglected and misunderstood Modernist masterpiece.” Dr Jane Goldman

A photograph of Nina from 1920 in her studio depicts her individual personality: a masculine stance in wide-legged trousers, open toe sandals, cigarette in hand with a sense of rebellious freedom.  The title is quite simply and enigmatically, ‘Myself.’

Myself, 1920, Photograph of Nina Hamnett (London Library)

Walter Sickert was a great admirer, who wrote the preface for the catalogue of her exhibition at the Edlar Gallery, London in June 1918: “Nina Hamnett draws like a born sculptor and paints like a born painter.”

This book and the retrospective exhibition at Charleston this summer shines a timely light on this talented born artist who became the best known British artist in Paris in her prime, slowly fading from the limelight until her tragic death aged sixty six.  Nina Hamnett was never afraid to do things differently, embracing the Bohemian spirit of her time with free spirited passion and pioneering creativity.

Nina Hamnett by Alicia Foster, Eiderdown Books RRP £10.99:

Modern Women Artists series: www.eiderdownbooks.com

Nina Hamnett Retrospective: 19 May – 30 August, 2021

https://www.charleston.org.uk/exhibition/nina-hamnett/

The Modern Women Artists Series
The Modern Women Artists series of collectable books reveals an alternative history of art, telling the story of important female artists whose art might otherwise be overlooked, overshadowed or forgotten in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Student, 1917, Nina Hamnett (Ferens Art Gallery, Bridgeman Images)

Quedubon – (just good things) by Michael G. Clark @ Doubtfire Gallery: a bon vivant tour from Paris to Provence

Doubtfire Gallery, NW Circus Place

Doubtfire Gallery was established in 2010 by design partnership Frame Creative and it’s most exciting that it has recently moved to the bustling heart of Stockbridge.  With light flooding in the front window, this is a contemporary, accessible and spacious venue with high white walls and polished wood floor.

The new freshly designed, spacious gallery in Stockbridge

To launch the new gallery, the summer exhibition is Quedubon by Michael G. Clark. The title roughly translates as “just good things” to reflect the French sense of  joie de vivre and observe the pursuit of pleasure and leisure in their daily routine.

Clark visited Paris for the first time in 1980 while studying at he Edinburgh College of Art: the city of light, culture and romance, must have been an exciting, enriching experience for a young artist.  Café society, the timeless French art of living, is captured with cool, charismatic style.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about the inimitable ankle-grazing apron, style and stature of the traditional waiter, as seen standing here on duty with military precision.

Parisian Waiter, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

This is more than a simple sketch but a charming, impressionistic Lowry-esque figurative study.  Through the window, it seems there is a shadowy glimpse of a couple sitting inside the café, all part of a hidden narrative like a paused frame in an animation movie.

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”  From A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (memoir)

Drinking wine is the decorative theme in several artworks to take you on a virtual journey around the vineyards of the Bordeaux, Rhone, Loire and Champagne regions.

Mostly Bordeaux, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Mostly Bordeaux  – the half full (or half empty) glass of wine is a bright and bold Pop Art image set against a splash of Cabernet Sauvingon/Merlot red.

From oil paintings to unframed works, here are champagne flutes, clinking glasses and a fine array of bottles of all shapes and sizes.  White Wine is a most pleasing compostion like a Still life, with corkscrew, grapes and bottles within an abstract fertile green landscape of the vineyard.

White Wine, Michaell G. Clark, PAI, RSW

With an imaginative use of media, Wine Bibbing, is sketched in ink and a splosh of red wine, with a jolly, jaunty angle of the glasses.  Santé !

Wine Bibbing, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

As well as fine wines and cuisine, France is also renowned for haute couture.  Michael G. Clark has the expert eye of a leading fashion designer, specialising with such skill in drawing the most fabulous frocks and the ever fashionable LBD, of Coco Chanel fame.  This unframed illustration is delicately crafted in Conté crayon and oil on a gesso panel.

LBD, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

The Dressmaker depicts an elegant cocktail gown – perhaps cream chiffon – and a soft pink sundress, with such subtle shading to denote a light linen texture.

The Dressmaker, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Paris in the Rain, reflects the damp chill in the air, the girl in her cloche hat hunched under her parapluie, trying to keep dry and warm.

Paris in the Rain, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Here are many other quirky, quintessential snapshots of traditional French life and times – shopping in the market, a game of Petanque in the park, taking the dog for a walk, and the iconic, close embrace of two lovers in a city street.

Together, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Again, like an animation movie, these are delightful, romantic vignettes, ‘caricature’ figures but with a depth of painterly expression to evoke a real sense of place and atmosphere – the use of light, leafy shade and dappled sunlight is most effective.

Early Evening Provence, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

The beauty of the natural landscape too, such as Sunflowers, (see image below), with thick brush strokes and smudges of golden yellow oil paint like a slick of mustard: one blooming flower stands tall and erect to face the sun.

Quedubon – Just Good Things by Michael G Clark is the perfect exhibition to bring sunshine into our lives this summer.  Do visit the new Doubtfire Gallery soon.

Quedubon – Just Good Things, by Michael G Clark PAI, RSW

 Doubtfire Gallery, 20th June to 1st August, 2020

 28 North West Circus Place,, Edinburgh EH3 6TP

 www.doubtfiregallery.co.uk     email: art@doubtfiregallery.co.uk

Sunflowers, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

 

Visit the new sassy, sophisticated Cocktail and Champagne Bars at Le Monde, Edinburgh – cheers!

Le Monde, George Street

The World came to Edinburgh thirteen years ago ..

Well to be more accurate, the quirky, cool and ultra contemporary boutique hotel, Le Monde opened on George Street.

This was a really exciting concept when it launched, offering guests the choice of eighteen superior bedrooms and suites each inspired by the world’s most cultural and cosmopolitan cities, from Barcelona to Rio, Berlin to Reykjavik, Casablanca to Sydney.  In 2006, my partner  Ken and I stayed for a review visit, jetting off (as it were) to Los Angeles, a Junior Suite, in the process.

Los Angeles, Le Monde – a suite set amongst the Hollywood Stars

This really oozes Hollywood glamour, featuring dozens of portraits of famous movie stars, stunning white leather sofas, bedroom, bathroom with a round tub designed for two.

Le Monde was named Scottish Design Hotel at the Scottish Hotel Awards in that first year of of opening, as well as a runner up for its Paris Bar and as a Boutique Hotel.  Its international themed décor and design lead all the way around from bedrooms to the Bars, Brasserie and Shanghai nightclub.

Fast forward to September 2019

Le Monde welcomes drinkers and diners to experience the revamped, restyled Bars and Restaurant following a major £1 million, four month renovation project.  The original, traveller’s tale around Le Monde has been enhanced with great imagination to take you on a culinary and cultural journey.

Just beyond the entrance hall is the ab fab Champagne Bar with velvet draped booth seating and high backed claret-coloured stools around the half moon Bar.

Just the place to stay awhile and sip a glass or two of Laurent-Perrier, the House Champagne, served by flute, bottle and magnum, as well as other sparkling wines and champagne.

It’s not the wizard’s yellow brick, but follow the colourful zig zag, marble road through to the Cocktail Bar with an amazing Island Bar in the centre, where you can sit on tan leather stools all around. Smart and spacious, it’s rather like a First Class Airline Club Lounge and ideal choice of seating for either couples or a party of friends.

The Cocktail Bar, Le Monde

Let’s have a taste of what’s on offer …

At a sneak preview, Ken and I had an inspiring tour around to sample a few innovative cocktails and tasty tapas.  Generation X & Millennials might think cocktails were invented in the 20th century, but 2019 is celebrating the centenary of the Negroni invented in 1919 Florence, named after a Count who concocted the tipple.

Count Negroni and his own now legendary Gin & Campari cocktail

A book entitled “Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them” of 1896 features a recipe for Martini, which resembles very much the classic we love to this day. The decades from World War 1 to the 1930s was the era of the cocktail, as Cole Porter would sing about in 1924 with his perfect talent for rhyming:

"Too many parties and too many beaus
They have found that the fountain of youth
Is a mixture of gin and vermouth .."

Cocktails at Le Monde, inspired from global cities

It’s departure Time at Le Monde Cocktail Bar – remember it’s 5 o’clock somewhere in the world so time for a drink.  Browse the enticing menu of fancy drinks inspired by classics and cities around the world: “Saintoge Sidecar”, the classic was invented at the Ritz Paris – the version here is a blend of Tequila, VS Cognanc, Cointreau and fresh lime juice with a dash of  champagne.

Cocktails inspired from cities around the world, jazzed up with a modern twist

“S’Bigliato” is a famous drink in Milan and means The Mistake. The story goes that a barman was trying to make a Negroni with Martini rosato, Aperol,  Campari and Prosecco, rose vermouth and bitters, creating a rather different pink drink.

Also try the “ Gin Gin Cosmo” a celebration of hip New York cocktails, the Cosmopolitan, Clover Club and Gin Mule, with Gordons Pink Gin, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur with fresh lime and cranberry juice.  I think Carrie & the gals would love it.!

Cocktails for the Sex and the City girls

Imaginative re-mixes and shake ups of cocktails too from Casablanca, Rio, Havana and Berlin as well as Cocktail pitchers for a group. And of course, fine wines, champagnes, Prosecco, spirits, draught and bottled beers.

The Brasserie, Le Monde for casual dining day and night.

Around the corner from the Bar, there are comfortable banquette seats for dining.  The new food menu is ideal for a romantic dinner a deux, or a night out with friends, sharing a few Tapas such as Chorizo & Cheese Croquettes,  Aubergine Bruschetta,  Roast Pepper and olive salad, Battered Haddock bites (like posh fish fingers), Serrano ham with broccoli, Sweet potato fries.  Also a range of steak, burgers, vegetarian and vegan dishes, sides and desserts.

Appetising lite bites and seriously good food for the modern traveller – breakfast, brunch, lunch and supper.

Sharing plates, tapas and bites – fresh local, seasonal seafood, meat and veggie food

Travel the World

Thirteen years since it first opened, this major design facelift has transformed Le Monde into a glamorous getaway in the city, perfect for any occasion.  The refurbishment was created by RYE Design, an Architecture and Interior Design Studio. The original classic Georgian features are juxtaposed beside the new cool, contemporary plush, luxe décor.

And of course you can stay overnight.  Each styled bedroom and suite, whatever the standard, has a 42” plasma TV screen, air conditioning, minibar, bathrooms with rainfall showers, Scottish toiletries, bathrobe & slippers, a safe, refreshment facilities and complimentary WiFi.  Select your favourite city to enjoy a themed experience with well selected photography, art, fabrics, books, lighting and cultural style.

New York, Le Monde

Marrakesh, Le Monde

The Dirty Martini, upstairs is a Bar and Salon for private parties, festive celebrations and corporate receptions, and downstairs, is the popular Shanghai Night Club.  Le Monde certainly is an all singing, all dancing international venue for drinking, eating, sleeping, leisure and lifestyle

Commenting on the re-opening, Darren Scott, the General Manager, said:

‘Le Monde has been a favourite venue in the heart of Edinburgh for many years now, and we’ve taken that wonderful idea of a trip to glamorous and exciting places and reinvented it.  The newly refurbished bar and restaurant exude the warm cosmopolitan glamour and relaxed luxury that make you want to while away the day or evening.

Our food and drink menus delve into the culture, customs and cocktails of cities around the world to create a very special selection.  Every dish and drink has been devised, blending global inspiration with ingredients in Scotland.

Celebrate a new era of Le Monde with us.’

Darren Scott, General Manaager, Le Monde

Reviews from happy drinkers and diners who have visited in September 2019 :

A girls’ weekend in Edinburgh and came here for cocktails – so good we came back a second night! Highly recommended.

Luxurious setting. Love the idea of small plates allowing to try many dishes. Not a vegan but the decorative beetroot dish was to die for. Cocktails from around the world were fab.

The new cocktail menu is impressive, themed on different cities around the world. Looking forward to trying out the new champagne bar!  Ching ching.

Take a trip to Le Monde soon to discover a world of possibilities in its new era with a sassy new look,  classy, classic cocktails, delicious dining and luxurious interior – a place to eat, drink, sleep and party the night away.

Le Monde – Bar, Brasserie, Hotel, Nightclub

16 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PF  –  https://lemondehotel.co.uk/

Le Monde for cool cocktails, champagne and drinks galore

Escape the city life for rejuvenating, relaxing Me Time at the Spa – Principal Hotel, Charlotte Square

The Principal, Charlotte Square

The Principal Edinburgh, Charlotte Square – formerly the Roxburghe Hotel and first opened in 1848 –  has had a multi-million-pound refurbishment, now transformed into a smart contemporary Boutique hotel within its seven grand townhouses, overlooking Charlotte Square Garden.  With vintage travel ephemera and quirky, colourful design across bedrooms, bars, bistros and lounges, it was named the Edinburgh Style Hotel of the Year 2018.

Junior Suite, Principal Hotel, Charlotte Square

The Spa has also had a makeover to create a relaxing retreat in the centre of the city for pampering treatments and leisure time around the pool, sauna and steam room. Located on the lower ground floor, the cool, quiet, interior space has a calming ambience which envelops you from the moment you arrive at the Spa Reception.

The Apothocary themed Spa

The thematic decor is all about reflecting the fragrant scent and traditional medicinal properties of herbs, plants and dried flowers which fill the large vintage bottles to represent a 19th century Apothocary.

Herbal Art display at the Spa

This follows through into the ingredients of the Signature Spa products – OSKIA is a specialist skin care formula created for luxury facial treatments to enhance a healthy complexion.

Oskia, multi award winning beauty products

The other skincare range is ishga, developed from natural, organic seaweed on the Isle of Lewis. In order to experience both of these Spa products, I selected the OSKIA Glow Facial while my partner Ken would be trying the ishga Face and Body Sensation.

We were shown to the Locker Rooms downstairs– very spacious and well laid out, where we changed into towelling bathrobes and slippers. From here, there is a direct access to  the swimming pool and thermal suite.  We then sat for a few minutes in the Relaxation room until our Therapists came to collect us for our respective beautifying treatments.

Tranquil Treatment Rooms

The rooms are small but decorated with soft, subtle shades of cappucino and taupe to enhance the sense of calm. Sitting on a hard wooden stool (?!), I was asked to select my preferred scented oil for either energy or relaxation. Lying on the massage bed, I was wrapped up under a duvet and towels, while a CD of Mood music provided a soothing soundtrack.

The OSKIA facial was extremely comprehensive covering the face, neck and décolletage with a flowing series of various creams and a mask to exfoliate, cleanse, tone and moisturise.  I always love the contrasting sensation of cold lotions followed by a hot towel to refresh and open the pores.  The application of a warm oil, drizzled over my face, was like basting a chicken – but I was not going to be roasted!  A gentle massage in circular movements works to penetrate and plump up the layers of skin.

Georgie Cleeve

OSKIA was created in 2009 by Georgie Cleeve after she damaged her knee in a skiing accident.  Understanding that race horses are given BSM, a natural sulphur supplement, she used this on her knee which helped to repair the tissue and cartilage joint. This was the springboard to create a therapeutic skincare range – the name is derived from ancient Greek meaning beauty and nutrition – which promotes collagen production and has anti-inflammatory elements for a brighter, younger-looking complexion.

Meanwhile Ken was next door for a Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage with ishga seaweed body oils to nourish the skin, pummelling the muscles to release knots and alleviate tension.  Other ingredients in the products include lavender, lemongrass and juniper which sound like the botanicals in a perfectly curated Gin!  This was followed by a rejuvenating Facial which showed amazing results.

Hebridean Island seaweed

Ishga marine skincare – named after the Gaelic for water – was founded by Malcolm, a Scientist, Joanna his wife, a beauty therapist, and Martin a seaweed expert.   Based in Lewis, the Outer Hebrides,  they source seaweed harvested from the sandy beaches combined with local salt water, the purest in the world as is the fresh water taken from mountain springs.

Ishga skincare – inspired by the seashore on the Isle of Lewis,

Seaweed has been used for centuries for its healing properties, and its vitamins, minerals and amino acid are ideal for people who suffer from acne or dry and itchy skin conditions.   Cucumber extract, Macadamia, Jojoba Oil, Thistle Oil, Hebridean Sea Salt and Aloe Vera are other natural ingredients as well as anti-oxidants to maintain a healthy and youthful skin.  As Ken noticed afterwards, his face was moisturised, toned and tightened for a brighter, smoother appearance of the skin.

This was a marvellous escape for the afternoon at the Principal Spa – around an hour and a half of recuperative, calming, Chill Out – Me Time followed by a rest in the Relaxation room.  The Leisure club is a myriad of corridors, rooms and staircases – the changing room (with the loos) are a bit of a trek and directions are needed to find your way back here.

Afterwards we went upstairs to The Garden – the indoor Greenhouse Conservatory Bar and Café –  for a refreshing Cocktail, a Rhubarb and Ginger Sling for him and an Elderflower Collins for me, all very fruity and healthy.

Cool Cocktails in the Garden

With sunlight streaming in from the glass roof and surrounded by flowers, it was like sitting outside – perfect for  ‘al fresco’ coffee,  tea, snacks, bar drinks, lunch or supper, whatever the weather.

The Garden – for all day drinks and good food.

The Spa offers a diverse menu of massages, facials, manicures and beauty treatments.  For a special treat, book an indulgent Spa Day such as Champagne, Deluxe and Signature Lunch or Twilight Tea packages.

While you may visit the Spa as a non-resident as we did,  why not plan to stay here for a mini city break.  Hotel guests in a Standard bedroom can enjoy the leisure facilities free of charge from 7-9am and again from 6-9pm. Those staying in all other Superior rooms are free to go at any time.  As well as the Pool, keep fit in the gym with Intenza Fitness cardio machines and equipment for stretching and strength training.  Studio classes offer yoga, zumba, spinning and bootcamp sessions.

Spa Facts:

Opening hours, Monday to Friday, 6.30am – 10pm, Saturday and Sunday, 7am – 8pm

Address: The Principal Charlotte Square, 38 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4HQ.

Website: http://www.theprincipalhotel.com/edinburgh-cs

Telephone +44 (0)131 240 5500

Email:. leisure@theprincipalhotel.com

A Hamper ..and a Haven  ..of health and beauty at the Principal Spa

“Taking Shape” – a bright, colourful show for Springtime at Lennon Art, Edinburgh

Lennon-Art is a most welcoming gallery in the cultural (and culinary) hub of Stockbridge, Edinburgh, founded by the artist Alan Lennon.  The current collection Taking Shape very much celebrates the birth of Spring with a refreshing cocktail of colourful paintings and prints by Stephen Holmes, Alan Martin and Alan Lennon, interlinking a theme of abstract artwork with both lighthearted humour and thoughtful insight.

“The world doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”   Pablo Picasso

Stephen Holmes studied Graphic design and has been influenced by surrealism, wildlife and children’s book illustrations for his cool quirky images of animals, people and places which primarily focus “on the relationship between free-form shapes and colours.”

Cat, Stephen Holmes

With sharp edged red, blue and orange cubes and triangles like a traditional Harlequin’s suit.  his painterly style echoes the modern masters – Mondrian, Picasso and Miro – but which is in no way a blatant duplication.

Figures and dog in front of the sun, Miro

In his own refreshing manner, Holmes captures the naivety and innocence in childlike images of cats, houses, city park and caricatures of people which will make you smile.

Red Haired Girl does a drunk dance, Stephen Holmes

A vivacious “Red-haired girl does a drunken dance”  evokes rhythm and energy while his rather sombre “ Self Portrait” is, of course, most revealing, akin to Joyce’s literary version, “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.”

Self Portrait, Stephen Holmes

Whatever the subject matter, there is pure inventiveness in each picture depicting an enchanting landscape with a wild and wondrous imagination.

 “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso

Moving down the route of abstraction, Alan Martin presents a patchwork of geometric shapes around curving lines described as Doodles using mixed media, mainly acrylic with pen and coloured pencils on card or canvas.

Archeology 3 – Alan Martin

While he has a strong interest in archaeology, astronomy and the seashore,  he says, “ I find it hard to talk and explain about individual paintings …  I simply enjoy playing with line, colour and shape …  manipulating the randomness that can result from using collage.”

Composition 23, Alan Martin

There’s a two-dimensional flatness over the canvas and the bold compositions would also be ideal for cushions, rugs and Fashion design too – the swirling patterns and bright prints by Emilio Pucci and Jonathan Saunders are perfect for flowing silk and soft fabrics from floaty summer dresses to swimwear.

Abstract print bikini, Emilio Pucci

The diverse range of Martin’s work also covers a porfolio of birds, fish, people and still life with a darkly, dramatic, Dali-esque narrative.

Cheers, Alan Martin

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards, you can remove all traces of reality.” Pablo Picasso

Alan Lennon’s oil paintings specialise in figurative work with a recurring theme  of a thoughtful,  philosophical mood.  Through a series entitled Essence, Substance and Silence, he has gradually developed a less representative dimension along the lines of Picasso’s manner of fragmentation.

Aspiration, Alan Lennon

These reflect a hidden depth of emotion and spirituality handled through facial expression and subtle gesture of crossed hands and feet such as in “Reflection” and “Aspiration”.

Reflection, Alan Lennon

Le Reve, Picasso

Lennon admits his figures are not based on people he knows.  Instead through his own imagination (and perhaps subconsciously adding an aspect of himself), presents a quiet, joyous Zen-like beauty of the world.  He is also a fine sculptor especially constructing a face, eyes and furrowed brows depicting sadness or love with extraordinary poignancy.

Sculptured heads and figures, Alan Lennon

“Taking Shape” is a well curated showcase of three artists who complement each other with their individual approach to reconfiguring the notion of the everyday, life and humanity with imaginative vision.

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place, from the sky, from the earth, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web”  Picasso

Catch this exhibition if you can before it ends on 10 May … but whenever you visit there is always a varied collection of paintings, prints and sculpture throughout the year.

Taking Shape: 13 April – 10 May, 2018

Lennon-Art,  83 Henderson Row, Edinburgh EH 3 5BE

Open Mon-Sat, 12pm – 6pm.

Tel. 0131 556 6888

www.lennon-art.co.uk

Charity Chic 2017: the annual Fashion Catwalk Showcase for Cancer Research (Stockbridge)

St. Stephen’s Church, Stockbridge

In the grand, baroque St Stephen’s Centre @ Saint Stephen’s Church, (designed in 1827 by William Playfair),  this year’s Charity Chic Fashion Show  in aid of Cancer Research UK (Stockbridge), will be another glitzy, glamorous and inspirational evening. When?  Friday 6th October,  2017 – 7pm to 9.30pm

Where? St Stephen’s Centre, 105 St. Stephen Street, Edinburgh EH3 5AB.

Charity Chic offers a fabulous night out featuring a colourfully creative Fashion Show, live music, a Bar and stalls to buy quality clothes, raffle tickets, cakes and much much more.

Elaine Lennon (left) launching Charity Chic 2014

Organised once again by Elaine Lennon, the assistant manager of Cancer Research, Stockbridge, the highlight of the evening is a Catwalk Extraordinaire: members of staff,  customers and friends of the shop will showcase the best of Charity Chic from High Street fashion to Designer couture, for men and women.

A glamorous model at Charity Chic 2014

From Top Shop to Top Brands, (e.g. Prada, Versace, Westwood), gorgeous clothes are donated year round to the Stockbridge branch by the public.  After a fine collection is shown off in style and swagger along the Catwalk, these clothes and accessories will then be available to purchase – if you are quick off the mark! – after the show.

This is the perfect opportunity to jazz up your Autumn-Winter wardrobe with a ‘nearly new’ coat, cosy sweater, smart trousers, shoes, handbag, hat, scarf, jewellery and perhaps a little black dress or dinner suit for festive parties.

Charity Chic catwalk 2014

The POP-UP Shop opens from 7pm, bringing the Cancer Research Boutique along to St. Stephen’s Centre with some amazing fashion bargains, gifts, treasures and gems, to be snapped up for one night only.

This is the eighth time Cancer Research Stockbridge has staged an annual Charity Chic fashion show, raising an estimated thirty thousand pounds at these fun, sociable evenings. Proceeds go towards funding clinical research, medical trials and specialist nurses, all of which are vital in the fight against cancer.

A packed audience at Charity Chic 2014

The spacious theatre-style venue at St. Stephen’s Centre will create a party atmosphere to meet friends, enjoy the Catwalk, have a drink, browse around the stalls and dress up in some lovely new fashionable clothes.

Volunteers are most welcome – do get in touch if you’d like to try your hand at modelling, run one of the stalls or help to organise the event.

Tickets are priced at £10.   And of course, this show is for a very good cause.

Pick up your tickets at the Cancer Research Shop, 30 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh.  Tel. 0131 343 6343

Or purchase on line:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/charity-chic-2017-cancer-research-uk-stockbridge-fashion-show-pop-up-shop-help-us-stand-up-to-cancer-tickets-36982187719

 

Waldorf Astoria & Walker Slater Fashion Show: Autumn/Winter 2017/2018 Collection

‘The passion of creating clothing comes from the idea that if they are stylish, yet practical and robust, they allow you to be carelessly elegant and have confidence to look good.’  Paul Walker

Walker Slater, the Scottish tweed tailoring company, was founded in 1989 in Laggan before opening on Victoria Street, Edinburgh, followed by stores in Glasgow and London.

Walker Slater, Victoria Street, Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Specialists of fine casual and formal clothing for ladies and gentlemen, it was named Retailer of the Year 2015 at the Scottish Fashion Awards.

From traditional tailoring to contemporary style, Walker Slater is renowned for tweed jackets, trousers, waistcoats, three piece suits, overcoats and knitwear in quality wool and tweed produced in the Borders, Shetland and Harris.  What could be more classic than a beautifully designed, made-to-measure three piece suit for a special occasion.

Autumn Winter collection, 2016 – Walker Slater, always in style.

The Caledonian Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh is celebrating its fifth birthday in September as a Waldorf Astoria. With the grand art deco hotel as a backdrop,  Walker Slater will stage a fabulous fashion show –  a sneak preview of the Autumn/Winter 2017/18 collection.

This style event will take place in the hotel’s glamorously elegant Peacock Alley on the afternoon of Friday 15th September, hosted by Scottish broadcaster and Deacon Blue drummer, Dougie Vipond.

Peacock Alley, Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh

During the catwalk show, guests will experience a luxury Afternoon Tea inspired by the botanicals of Edinburgh Gin. Enjoy a seasonal selection of sweet and savoury treats, complemented  by a crafted gin cocktail, delicately flavoured with orange, lemon, heather, coriander, juniper, and pine.

Autumn Winter 2017 Tweed clothing collection for men and women

The new curated WS clothing range is sure to keep you warm during the Autumn and Winter months. Ladies may relish beautiful Scottish cashmere, everyday clothes from city street to country walks, and day to evening wear.

Smart, casual Winter wear

The preview will also launch ‘Messrs,’ a youthful collection with a contemporary look, fit and colour palette, from Harris Tweed suits to leather jackets.

Smart, contemporary tweed suits

“As an old Victorian railway station, The Caledonian has over 110 years of rich heritage in Edinburgh, of which we are very proud.  Walker Slater also has a strong Scottish heritage and worldwide reputation for style, offering the perfect synergy with Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh.” Dale MacPhee, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, The Caledonian.

The much beloved “Caley” hotel today as part of the Waldorf Astoria portfolio, represents the epitome of international luxury travel, and this classic Scottish fashion brand, creates the ideal partnership.

Walker Slater boutiques also presents a range of fabulous, must-have accessories for women and men including bags, gloves, scarves, shoes, tweed-wrapped hip flasks and gifts, perfect for the winter season and Christmas.

Tweed bag – from city to country sports

“They have an attention to detail befitting a Parisian couturier and the flair of a Tokyo street-wear brand.” 

 Tickets for the Waldorf Astoria & Walker Slater fashion show with Afternoon Tea, are priced at £45 per person.

Be the first to join the A –List FROW *  by reserving your place soon!  (* Front Row @ fashion show)

Book tickets at Eventbrite at: http://bit.ly/2g4WiqA

Throughout the month of September, an inspiring diary of events will celebrate the 5th birthday of The Caledonian as a Waldorf Astoria. Highlights include a luxurious stay in the Caley Suite, an Oyster & Champagne Masterclass at Galvin Brasserie de Luxe and classic Cocktails in the Caley Bar.

For more information:

www.waldorfastoriaedinburgh.com

http://www.walkerslater.com

Oysters and champagne at Galvin Brasserie de Luxe

 

 

 

Generation 3 – Christmas exhibition of arts and crafts at Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

Christmas is the time of year when families gather together – the annual pilgrimage most of us will make soon, as captured in song from Sinatra’s “I’ll be home for Christmas” to “Driving home for Christmas” from Chris Rea.

For the Rollinson family they have planned a different kind of reunion for us all to share and enjoy. Generation 3 is a collective exhibition to showcase the arts and crafts representing three generations.

Vicky Ware - ceramic decoration

Vicky Ware – ceramic decoration

Starting a few decades ago with Peter and Rosemary’s Scottish saddlery business, their children and grandchildren have inherited the creative gene and developed their own distinctive artistic talent from glassware and jewellery to pottery and photography.

Generation 3After retirement, Peter Rollinson has developed his passion for cine, video and still photography in which to observe the natural world, flowers, trees and landscape, through the camera lens. As he explains the background to his art: “We tend to overlook something that is small, or that is a small part of a larger image. We may pass a dry stone wall every day and not see the different coloured stones used, or the fern growing from it. Or really see an old letterbox, a lone lobster pot or a tree stump. ”

Aged just 16, Natasha Rollinson began working with silver at a Summer course at Edinburgh College of Art which led to studying jewellery at the University of Ulster, and then training as a goldsmith. Her fine jewellery is based on traditional techniques matched by modern design.

Bubbles necklace - Natasha Rollinson

Bubbles necklace – Natasha Rollinson

Angelika Rollinson trained as a dressmaker in an atelier in southern Germany,  later making costumes for the Deutsche Oper Berlin.   Just like Vivienne Westwood who loves using Scottish textiles,  she has designed a range of Harris Tweed ladies’ capes for this exhibition.

Scottish style - Harris Tweed cape by Angelika Rollinson

Scottish style – Harris Tweed cape by Angelika Rollinson

And then we move from wool to leather:  William Rollinson worked in his family’s business and trained as a saddler. Today he makes and repairs saddles as well as creating quality leather products, dog collars, bags and gun cases. He also built his own Tipi Tent for camping on canoeing and fishing trips around Scotland.

Beautiful glassware by Sue Jack

Beautiful glassware by Sue Jack

Sue Jack trained in architectural glass at University of Wales and now divides her time between Edinburgh and Sutherland where she has an eco friendly house and glass design studio overlooking the sea towards Harris and the mountains of Assynt and Coicach. Inspired by the rugged wild landscape, Sue creates sculptural pieces and art works from kiln formed glass.

Sue Jack - decorative glass

Sue Jack – decorative glass

The new BBC series, The Great British Pottery Throw Down may encourage viewers to try their hand with throwing some clay … just as the ever popular Great British Bake Off show did with all those tempting cakes, buns and tarts.

Vicky Ware - rustic farmhouse crockery

Vicky Ware – rustic farmhouse crockery

Vicky Ware is the archetypal artisan potter, working and teaching in a studio at her home, a converted barn in rural Wales. Her handmade earthenware pots range from colourfully decorative glazed ceramics to functional plates, bowls and kitchenware.

Vicky Ware - artistic ceramics

Vicky Ware – artistic ceramics

And her rustic Terracotta Bread Pots sell like hot cakes!

As Vicky describes the creative design process … “ Hand thrown using grogged earthenware clay and fired to a rich toasted terracotta, each one is slightly different and has a spiral inside which gives the traditional crescia pattern to the loaf. The handles, as well as being part of the design, are a practical way of holding the pot to remove the bread.

Terracotta Bread Pots by Vicky Ware

Terracotta Bread Pots by Vicky Ware

“My pots are good for all types of bread and especially for sourdough, as you can prove and bake the loaf in the mould, retaining the texture and lightness of your dough”.

These beautiful moulds have revolutionised the way I bake! I have never had such a light and fluffy sourdough – the best loaf I have made.”  Kelli DiCapri – Artisan Baker

Generation 3 is a fantastic, diverse collection of exquisitely hand made and beautifully crafted artwork made with love and care – perfect gifts for your family and friends this Christmas.

Dundas Street Gallery,  Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH2 6HZ

28th November to 5th December, 2015 – 11am – 6pm daily.

For more information,  contact:  generation.3artsists@gmail.com

The Venice Simplon Orient-Express: re-living the elegant age of train travel

Welcome on board the Orient Express Venice-Simplon

Welcome on board the Orient Express Venice-Simplon

On Monday 30th November, 2015,  Channel 4 is broadcasting a documentary entitled,  “The World’s Most Famous Train” – a behind the scenes view of life on board the Venice Simplon  Orient-Express.

If you have never taken this iconic journey, this will be an enticing taster.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-worlds-most-famous-train

If like my partner Ken and I,  you have had the pleasure to indulge in its leisurely, luxurious lifestyle,  the film will be an opportunity to learn about the fine art of preserving its traditions and hospitality.  To step on board this very famous train is a dream journey, travelling back in time to the exquisitely elegant era of train travel.

Vivien - vintage evening gown and gloves - with Champagne

Watch the Channel TV documentary on 30th November, 2015 …  and please do read all about our experience of this most romantic 28 hour train journey from London Victoria to Venice.

https://smartleisureguide.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-venice-simplon-orient-express-a-timeless-luxurious-travel-experience/

Plan your journey here:

http://www.belmond.com/