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Solace

Botanical paintings by Julie Croft & photographs by Alexander Van Der Byl, Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh.

Solace – as defined in the dictionary, a noun to mean “comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness.”

During this difficult, disruptive year to normal life, work and travel, many people have been inspired by nature – whether city park, country ramble or a wind-blown stroll along a beach.  This strange, surreal time at home has given the opportunity to listen to bird song and observe blossoming flowers in Spring and now the changing trees in Autumn.

Julie Croft studied illustration at Leicester Polytechnic, and then developed her artistic technique and medium as a mural artist during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Today, her paintings are on a much smaller scale, working at her home in Edinburgh.

The theme of Nature and the Landscape has inspired Julie over the past few months, during the worst times of lockdown, the brighter days through the summer and now heading through the Autumn into Winter.  Here is a most wonderful series of her botanical illustrations and miniature landscapes.

So take a look back to the emerging flourish of plants during April and May with charming watercolours such as Spring Greens.  These slender twigs with their tiny leaves and burst of buds is beautifully sketched and painted in soft colours with such delicate detail.

Moving on swiftly into June and July, blossom blooms with a whiff of Summer Scent from three flowers, which look like, a pink poppy, white daisies and lilac grape hyacinth.  They do transport you into the garden on a warm summer day.

On a walk in October, it’s all about berries, conkers and all the leaves turning golden brown.  This is another charming trio, with a small, dry, curled up leaf, in Autumn Berries. 

And a wonderful collection of golden, sand and burgundy leaves fallen from the trees in the soft shades of the Fall.

Winter Trees is a lovely pencil and watercolour sketch which perfectly sums up the chilly days at the dark end of a year in Nature.

 The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing —
Memories growing, ring on ring,
A series of weddings.

Winter Trees, Sylvia Plath

Julie Croft also paints atmospheric land and seascapes – watercolours on Daler Rowney paper which create a richly textured backdrop. These intimate, small scale scenes are so pleasing to the eye.

At the other side of the gallery is a collection of photographs by Alexander Van Der Byl who is in his final year as a Photography Student at Edinburgh College of Art.

A successful career is already on the cards as this year he was awarded the Astaire Art Prize 2020.  It is presented for outstanding undergraduate work by a third or fourth-year student at the ECA, founded by Mark Astaire, a University of Edinburgh Politics graduate and investment banking professional. This year four winners were chosen from a shortlist of twenty artists, each receiving £250.

“I could see all the students produced such wonderful and varied collections of work. It was difficult, but I had so much fun trying to select just four works!”  Mark Astaire 

“ … work that is sophisticated, intelligent and dynamic.” Gordon Brennan, School of Art Painting Lecturer

The Anticipation of Change, Alexander Van Der Byl

Van Der Byl’s award winning photograph is entitled The Anticipation of Change, which was taken in a former carpet shop in Leith; shabby, peeling flock wallpaper, tartan lino, blue carpet, gas meter, the table laid with a teapot and glasses, beneath a Vettriano print of the “The Billy Boys” on the wall. A cold, empty room perhaps, but there is a sense of pride and belonging in what is someone’s business.

This photograph is part of a series called “Return to Sender, No Such Address” of ten Hahnemühle German Etching Photograhic prints, “documenting the process of leaving a domestic space, (and) explores a presence which is transient and short lasting.” 

Home from Work, Alexander Van Der Byl

Home from Work focuses on another empty room, with an enticing warm light shining through the open door, perhaps the kitchen and a meal being prepared for the person arriving back home at the end of the day. With shimmering shadows and a half hidden portrait, this is such a haunting image.

Again, a fascinating glimpse of a domestic scene, with a television, an empty bookshelf, plant, vase, lamp in Rocking Horse Winner – the blurred effect of a child’s toy horse cleverly depicting a flash of movement.

Rocking Horse Winner, Alexander van der Byl

Here are also a few black and white portraits, which capture the thoughtful facial expression of the subject, in a quiet, quick, snap shot moment.

Portrait of a girl, Alexander Van Der Byl

From Julie’s painterly nature walk through gardens, woodland and the seashore, enter Alexander’s contemplative world of deserted rooms and streets.  With their distinctively different artistic vision, they share a theme of nostalgic memory, time past and present, the experience of isolation and silence, with a comforting, joyful sense of peace. Solace indeed.

SOLACE – Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas St, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

17th – 24th October, 2020. 11am – 6pm daily.

Exhibition closes Saturday 24th, 2pm

Have a Vacay – and dream about the great escape with an ice-cold cocktail in hand.

 “Roof top BBQs, moonlit strolls & dappled skies, surprise birthdays & poolside rays, beach day breaks & all night raves, Christmas Eve’s & drinks at Steve’s, glamping excursions & cold weather aversions, hen nights & chicken dinners, blind dates & best mates.”

Vacay Craft Cocktails in a Can offers you that tantalising tropical taste of those sandy beaches and party time.  The premium, gluten free, vegan cocktails have been created by a team of mixologists and culinary experts, using natural ingredients, no artificial flavours or sweeteners. 

We created Vacay as we wanted to provide an exciting option that tastes delicious, but also allows venues to provide the speed of service they require. Sophisticated yet eccentric, Vacay was born as a confident, quirky, unique and stylish new canned cocktail brand taking cocktails out of the bar to new horizons.”

Vacay cockails – Holiday mood and Happy Hour, anytime

Creating a new alcopop was all about developing a fresh personality, image and identity. The bright colourful packaging  is all about fun, animated designs based on sharp, simple Japanese-style illustrations. 

Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule (6.5% abv) –  Misty Isle Vodka, blended with ginger beer, lime juice and a dash of Angostura bitters.

The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941 at New York’s Chatham Hotel. John “Jack” Morgan, owner of the Hollywood Cock’n Bull Restaurant, and John Martin, of Heublein, collaborated by combining their respective products, ginger beer with Smirnoff vodka – a cocktail described as “inventive genius.”

The distinctive, Misty Isle Vodka from the Isle of Skye is triple distilled, made with water from Storr Lochs, resulting in a clean, crisp spirit suitable for enjoying in cocktails and mixed drinks. 

This is a good size serving (330ml) – enough for a tall glass  – and seriously refreshing with a tart citrus tang followed by a warming hit of ginger beer, such that the smooth, quality Vodka is a bit washed out.  The typical Moscow Mule would be about 10 – 11 abv, but this lighter, sparkling version is 6.5%.  A balance of sweet and spicy, perhaps a little too sweet on the alco-pop side for some palates.

Moscow Mule traditionally served in a copper tankard

Garnished with a slice or wedge of lime and mint, it is popularly served in a copper tankard, which takes on the cold temperature of the drink.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins (6.1% abv) – 58 Gin with Sicilian lemon juice, soda water and natural cane sugar.

Created by New York saloon-owner Jerry Thomas, his original blend of gin, fresh lemon, simple syrup and soda was first published in the Bon-Vivant’s Companion, 1876.

The Tom Collins cocktail reminds me of sitting on a porch in the summer and drinking lemonade,” says Bradley Evans, head bartender in Manhattan. “It’s a NYC staple.”

Its simplicity is said to be the beauty of this well-balanced tipple.

The handy cocktail to pop in a bag for the beach

The Vacay version of a Tom Collins is crafted with 58 Gin, a small-batch copper distilled gin produced in Hackney Downs, and when poured into a tall balloon glass over ice, expect a burst of effervescent fizz.

Rather than lemonade, to my taste it was more like Bitter Lemon, but equally thirst-quenching and quaffable.  Again, the alcoholic content may be “drowned” out by the sweetened citrus and soda but instead the aim is to offer a healthier, tipple. A lemonade for the grown ups.

“A Paloma in a can with a cactus doing the can can.”

Paloma (5.7% abv) – Blanco Tequila mixed with pink grapefruit, lime juice, soda water and natural sugarcane.

This jazzy orange and green can illustrated with a dancing cactus.  “A Paloma in a can with a cactus doing the can can.”  Such a super cute image, I would love it on a T-shirt.

The Paloma is the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico. It’s said to be named after La Paloma (“The Dove”), – the popular folk song composed in the early 1860s, – created by the legendary Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner and bartender of La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico.

Vacay has selected the award-wining Espolón Blanco Tequila, double-distilled in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico – and it’s all about the perfect pour, with a splash, a dash and a squeeze of soda, lime juice and pink grapefruit.   When I think of a classic Mexican cocktail, it’s one of my favourites –  a Margarita (Tequila, Triple Sec Liqueur /Cointreau and lime juice) and this Paloma is certainly related, a sassy sister perhaps, given its similar sharp, tart citrus kick. 

The aroma is a fresh whiff of grapefruit, and the taste is akin to a light, sparkling Margarita. In fact, you could smear the rim of the glass with salt for a complex sweet, sour, bitter, salty flavour.  This is a zesty sparkling cocktail with the taste of the Mexican sun. 

Vodka Soda

Blood Orange Vodka Soda (5.2% abv) –  Misty Isle Vodka, blood orange juice and hibiscus syrup, lemon, soda water.

The simple mix of vodka with soda was jazzed up in the early 1990s, by a bar tender in Washington, as a Rose Kennedy Cocktail, named after the matriarch of America’s first family.  Commonly known as a “VSS” (vodka soda splash), it’s  Vodka, Club soda, garnished with a slice of lemon and just a splash of cranberry juice to give a pale pink tint.

The Vacay version  of a Vodka Soda is a twist on the Rose Kennedy with Misty Isle Vodka from the isle of Skye, topped up with sparkling soda water, a slurp of hibiscus syrup and a splash of blood orange juice to give a vibrant shade of  the summer sun. 

Hibscus syrup has a delicate floral aroma with a tart cranberry and citrus flavour.  The first taste is clearly lemon to the fore, but sweet, a tad reminiscent of lemon and honey cough mixture I had as a child.  Served ice cold, it is extremely refreshing and at only 130 calories for the 330 ml can, this is a low alcohol, easy drinking cocktail.  Drink Responsibly is the message.

So take time out, relax and dream of a great escape with these cool, contemporary craft cocktails.  Have a Vacay, as they say!

The recommended retail price is £4.50/330ml can

For more information and to purchase on line, in packs of 4 or 24 – http://www.haveavacay.com

Land, Sea and Sky – majestic coastal paintings by Steven Hood at the Dundas Street, Gallery, Edinburgh

It is not only this sense of place but the uniqueness of experience at a specific moment in time.   These new paintings offer a kind of permanence to that experience, to what was observed and more importantly for what was felt. Steven Hood

Steven Hood painting En Plein Air

Steven Hood studied drawing and painting at the Edinburgh College of Art (1985-89) and has enjoyed a prestigious career with regular solo exhibitions at private galleries, and amongst numerous others, at the Society of Scottish Artists, Noble Grossart Award and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Living and working in the Edinburgh, the foreshore around Granton has been a favourite stomping ground since childhood.  With such a close affinity to the iconic views over Firth of Forth, here is a magnificent, moody seascape, ‘Haar over Cramond Island.’  

Haar over Cramond Island

For those who don’t know the word, Haar: noun – a cold sea mist off the North Sea. Just a vague glimpse of the distant island can be seen through a hazy light struggling to break through the mass of greyness.

Haar Enveloping Inchkeith Island

The fine perspective in ‘Haar Enveloping Inchkeith Island’ leads the eye from the grassy sandy cover, rocks and lapping waves to the slither of an island lost in the fog on the horizon. These two mesmerising scenes, enveloped in a semi opaque, soft light, convey the chilly, swirling haar, with such delicate atmospheric quality.

Following in the brushstrokes of the pioneering Impressionists, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh et al, Steven Hood likes to paint natural landscapes outside “en plein air,” for a personal, direct response to swiftly changing light and weather.

Evening Sky, Gamrie Bay

A recent trip to the Aberdeenshire coastline shows he is a master at capturing the movement and patterning of clouds. Like the artist, in “Evening Sky, Gamrie Bay,” near Gardenstown, we too stand on the beach under a wide shimmering sky in the rosy dusk.

Van Gogh was fascinated by wheat fields, painted again and again with cypress trees, reaper or birds.  Hood also depicts the glorious golden harvest, the tall stalks bent over in the sea breeze in “Cliff Top Wheat Fields, Aberdeenshire.”  The blocks of bold colour are most effective.

Clifftop Wheat Fields, Aberdeenshire

Observing the light over the seashore at the end of the day is very much a recurring theme, such as the ambient detail in “Setting Sun, the Mouth of the River Almond.” The dark waves and grey rain clouds contrast with a glimmer of pink rays casting a faint glint on the water.

Setting Sun, Mouth of River Almond

Most inspiring is a duet of sunsets, “snapped” quickly over a few minutes on 26th June, looking over to Fife.   This is all part of his aim to seize the likeness of a place at a specific moment, akin to a painterly photograph.

Setting Sun over Fife, 26th June

A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone. 
― John Steinbeck, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’

After the Sunset, 26th June

Turner created hundreds of sketches and paintings of different weather conditions, especially clouds and rain such as “Beach, English coast” (1835).

Beach, English Coast c.1835-40 Joseph Mallord William Turner

With similar powerful abstract expression, “Rain Clouds over Inchkeith Island,” the slanting, lashing downfall dramatically evoked with a flurry of thick, brash, brushstrokes.

Rain Clouds over Inchkeith Island

Art is more than a visual response, and Steven Hood clearly conveys the enriching emotional experience, a real sense of place.

These paintings are even more powerful when viewed in the gallery and this is a great space to stand back and observe the wild natural beauty of the Scottish coastline. They recall so poignantly the sentiment of Masefield’s poem, “I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky.”

Land, Sea and Sky – Steven Hood

Saturday 10th October to Wednesday 14th October 2020 

10.30am – 5.30pm

Dundas Street Gallery. 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ 

Social distancing measures will allow for 6 people in the gallery at any given time. Masks must be worn and hand sanitiser will be provided. 

Visit the website to view the exhibition www.stevenhoodartist.com

Le Grand Cros – classic, crisp, cool Rosé wines from Provence

Le Grand Cros Domaine, Provence, South of France

In Provence, making Rosé wines is a speciality and a longstanding way of life, thanks to the climate, terroir and varietals which are perfectly suited to this wine.  Provence is the number one French region for its production.

Soft pink blushing wines

Traditionally sipped al fresco in summer, such is the popularity of rosé, also called Rosato or Rosado wine, that it is now consumed year round. Not much more than a decade ago, the market was led by semi-sweet blush wines from California, but today it’s bone-dry, pale pink wines primarily from Provence. The Greeks planted the first grapevines here over two thousand years ago, the oldest wine region in France, and Rosé is the oldest known wine.

The consumption of rosé wine has continued to rise such that one in three bottles of wine purchased is a bottle of rosé.  Exports of Provence wines have skyrocketed by nearly 500% in just 15 years!

Jumping on the bandwagon, Kylie Minogue has even launched her own Côtes de Provence Rosé to mark her 52nd birthday this year. Her name is on the label, but she is not the winemaker!.

Kylie has launched her own Cote de Provence Rosé

It was in 1989 when the retired Canadian diplomat and businessman, Sir Hugh Faulkner and his English wife, Jane, an artist, bought the Grand Cros domaine.  Located near Carnoules, 50km north-west of St Tropez in the valley of the Maures mountains, it’s surrounded by pine and olive trees.

Le Grand Cros – a verdant landscape of vines and olive groves

Their eldest son, Julian, completed Masters degree in Bordeaux and in 2000, took over the management of the 24 hectare estate which now produces a range of classic white, red, rosé and sparkling wines.   One of their rosé wines was especially chosen for the banquet at Windsor Castle celebrating the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. 

Le Grand Cros Domaine

Julian runs the family vineyard in the traditional style with a modern, entrepreneurial, business approach. The “Jules” label was launched in 2005 to offer a range of good value wines from different regions and appellations across the south of France. He developed new technology, a computer-linked weather station and embarks on sales trips from Hong Kong to New York.  To reach a younger, international market, the “Jules” brand  is promoted on YouTube. 

Passionate oenophiles – Hugh, Jane and Julian Faulkner

Le Grand Cros is known mostly for its quality rosé wines, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to sip and sample two of their award winning wines.

Le Grand Cros wines: the taste of the South of France in the summer sun

Le Grand Cros,  L’esprit de Provence, 2019

Julian Faulkner introduces it thus:

“Dry and fruity, this rosé seduces with its tenderness, elegance and freshness. With its pretty texture and beautiful aromatic concentration, it is particularly suitable for gastronomic moments.”

This is a carefully crafted blend of grape varieties – Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre, Shiraz

With a beautiful shade of peach or perhaps smoked salmon, expect an aroma of apricot, grapefruit, a hint of lychee with floral and herbal notes.  The first taste offers a tart, soft berry and citrus fruitiness, well balanced to release a refreshing, dry, crisp character.  The complex layered, depth of flavour would complement a diverse range of cuisine, especially seafood – ceviche, sushi, pasta with clams, fish soup and indeed a slice of delectable smoked salmon.  An elegant, easy drinking Rosé to experience over a leisurely lunch. 

Gold Medal at the Vinalies Internationale and Mundis Vini; Best Rosé Œnologues de France competition, 2019.

Jules – Cote de Provence

Jules  – Cote de Provence, 2019

Grape Varieties: Grenache, Semillon, Cinsault, Rolle

This pink blush wine offers a rich aroma of ripe white peaches, sweet orange and the tang of lemon, presenting an initial gooseberry tartness, akin to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. But the underlying flavour is softer, lighter and mellow. Sip and savour to detect strawberry and crème de cassis with a slight acidity of grapefruit.  Luscious, ripe, and summery – year round.

A great value rosé, delightfully delicate to sip, day or night, as an aperitif or to accompany classic Provençal Provencal dishes, such as Bouillabaisse, Ratatouille and Pissaladière, the region’s sophisticated take on pizza with caramelised onions, garlic, anchovies and pitted olives.

The Jules label has created the quintessential Provence Rosé, winning a clutch of major awards over the past decade not least, Gold Medal, Concours des Grands Vins de Mâcon, 2010 and Silver Medal, International Competition of Rosés of the World, 2011.

Le Grand Cros Vineyard

With a respect for the environment and climate, Julian blends science and art, passion and instinct to ensure the quality of our wines that best reflect the spirit of this Provencal estate. Faulkner Wines produces over 500,000 bottles of quality wine and sells to over 20 countries.  

Le Grand Cros – Aurelia

Another leading Faulkner wine is Le Grand Cros –Aurélia named after Julian’s eldest daughter. Such was the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Aurélia 2015 that a 2016 release followed. A three-year gap ensured the vintage was once again perfect to launch Aurélia 2019, with a creamier texture and greater complexity.

“If you have tried previous vintages, the 2019 is more feminine with less vinosity. Just like her namesake, she is growing up and showing immense charm and finesse.” Julian Faulkner

For the Faulkner family and Le Grand Cros vineyard, life is rosy.!

For more information, suppliers and purchase on line: http://www.faulknerwine.com

Judith I. Bridgland showcases wild Scottish seascapes at the Grilli Gallery, Edinburgh

GRILLI GALLERY, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

A solo exhibition of paintings by Judith I. Bridgland

26th September to 22nd October, 2020

Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 11am to 4pm; Saturday 10.00am to 1.00pm  Closed Sunday & Wednesday

Tel: 0131 261 4264  –  http://www.art-grilli.co.uk/

Low Tide, North Berwick

Born in Australia, Judith I. Bridgland came to Scotland as a young child and later studied at University of Glasgow, graduating with a MA, (Honours) in History of Fine Art and English Literature.  She specialises in seascapes around the British Isles.

This exhibition takes tour around the coastline of Scotland, from East Lothian to Aberdeenshire, Sutherland to the Outer Hebrides.  The iconic pudding shape of the Bass Rock, North Berwick, takes centre stage in “Sun on the Sand,”  a stunning composition of sweeping stripes and layers to denote the wide sandy beach, seaweed, rockpools leading the eye to the distant bird colony island.

Sun on the Sand, North Berwick

“Two Figures on the Beach at Sunset,”  features a tiny dot of a couple who can just be seen at the edge of the breaking waves, under a coral-tinted sky. The flourish of thick brush strokes creates a wildly impressionistic perspective with vibrant colour and atmospheric energy.

Two Figures on the Beach

The Isle of Harris must be a favourite place for Bridgland, who has painted several different scenic views to capture its white sand beaches and wild natural environment.   This reminds me of an amazing story.

West Beach, Berneray, Outer Hebrides (photograph)

About ten years ago, to save the time and expense to send a media photographer to Kai Bae, Thailand Tourism simply googled images on line and ‘borrowed’ one of West Beach, Berneray instead. But the enticing promotional image was soon identified as taken in the Outer Hebrides.!

The natural “tropical” beauty around Harris is certainly an artist’s paradise.

Across to Luskentyre

Here is the lush, languid beauty of Luskentyre with its long, curving bay, undulating dunes etched with machair grasses, framed by the mountain peaks beyond.

In “Clouds over Luskentyre”  and “Grasses on the Beach”, you really feel that you are standing on the seashore with a whiff of salty sea air in a warm breeze.

Clouds over Luskentyre

 

Grasses on the Beach, Harris

It is fascinating to learn more about how Judith Bridgland starts the slow creative process for her landscapes:

“I start off by going to visit a location, taking a large set of photographs with two different cameras. I take hundreds and hundreds of photographs getting to understand the landscape, and seeing it in various lights and preferably at different times of the day. I will take shots of the same scene from multiple different angles, and also take samples of earth and sands to remind myself of colours.

I will return to the same place again and again, not to repeat scenes, to copy or replicate – this is an exercise in releasing yourself from merely recording the rhythm of the landscape, and experiment with texture, light and colour. It is a way of building on your understanding of a place, adding depth and pushing yourself in terms of technique.”

Observing the same seashores across the seasons and from dawn to dusk, must be inspirational and, at times, challenging to perfect the painting.  For a prime example of experimenting with texture, light and colour, the burst of a golden glow in “Sunrise in October” is a majestic seascape.   A tangible sense of movement in the lapping waves, flurry of clouds here …. and take a close look to the far eft hand side to spot what appears to be the glint of a lighthouse perched on a rock.

Sunrise, October

There is a mix of full scale paintings, oil on linen or board, as well as smaller studies in acrylic.  These will surely entice you to plan a Staycation trip around the Scottish seashore – perhaps an island hopping cruise around the Hebrides – for the great escape.   Around the gallery too are botanical studies, lovely vases of lilies and roses to brighten your home this winter.

White Lillies

The Tempest Brewing Company celebrates ten years of passion, innovation and creativity

The Tempest story reads like the plot of a jet setting, romantic movie!.

Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn first met, most appropriately, in a brewpub in Canada, and then set off travelling together in search of a dream. While based in New Zealand for a while, Gavin worked as a chef as well as taking up the challenge of home brewing in his garage.

We were making beer in New Zealand and my friends would come over from Scotland and ask why they couldn’t buy beer like this back home.”

This success kick started the idea for their own drinks business. In April 2010, they moved across the world to the Scottish Borders to set up The Tempest Brewing Company, a ten barrel brewery in a disused dairy in Kelso.

Within four years they were struggling to match production with demand and needed to develop the business with larger premises. The Tempest team moved across country to Tweedbank, near Melrose with space for improved facilities and a bottling line.

The non-stop Bottling Line, Tempest Brewing Company, Tweedbank

Developing a business against stiff competition from other craft beer makers needs entrepreneurial business skills, brand identity, imagination and creativity.

“Dry hopping, specialist malts and sourcing expensive New Zealand and American hop varieties. This was purely about making the best beer we could imagine, smoky beers, chilli beers, fruit beers… nothing was off limits. The line between creativity and gimmickry is a fine one.” 

The creative team with Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn

In Victorian Britain, a typical dish served in a Tavern was oysters accompanied by a strong dark beer – the original, cheap, fast food as Sam Weller remarks in Dickens’ novel,  The Pickwick Papers, “poverty and oysters always seem to go together.”  Having an “oyster stout” referred to eating oysters with a pint of Porter. Later on, someone had the idea to add oyster shells along with the barley and hops to enhance the flavour. Then, in 1929 an innovative brewer in New Zealand added the juicy, salty molluscs into the boiling beer wort and the true Oyster Stout was born.

Double Shuck Imperial Oyster Stout

Inspired by this classic beer, in 2015 Tempest created Double Shuck, Imperial Oyster Stout, made with 200 fresh Lindisfarne oysters. If this Stout is sipped with a platter of oysters, that would be a powerful aphrodisiac.!

The key to their success is innovation, launching topical, seasonal products with catchy names and colourful logos, such as Brave New World, Long White Cloud, Vermont Sessions, Cold Wave, Dios Mio! Lime Jalapeno, as well as enticing series, The IPA club, Discovery and Easy Rider packs of 24 cans.

For instance, Mexicake, a Chile and Chocolate Imperial Stout comes from a passion for Mexican culture and food to create a rich, boozy stout (11%ABV), infused with vanilla beans, cocoa, cinnamon, chipotle and mulato chillies.

The spicy Mexicake Stout inspired by a love of all things Mexican

The specialist, slow crafting of each distinctive ale, beer and stout is based on quality ingredients – their own strains of yeast, locally sourced malted barley and natural water. As their logo expresses it so well, “Designed and built in the Scottish Borders.”

Tempest Brewing Company has won numerous trade and business awards, including Scottish Brewery of the Year, (Scottish Beer Awards, 2016), and recently listed in RateBeer’s top 100 breweries in the world, a prestigious achievement.

Tempest Brewing Company – Awards galore + Scottish Brewery of the Year, 2016

And the latest news hot of the press is that Tempest Brewing Company is listed in the third edition of the World Atlas of Beer, 2020.  In a section under names to look out for, it is selected as one of the best new British breweries of the 21st century.  Compiled by Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont, this is a definite, essential guide to global beers, (published by Mitchell Beazley).

Beer Atlas of the World, Webb & Beaumont, Mitchell Beazley

 

So it’s time to taste and test, sip and savour the three beers in the Fruit Series featuring Peach, Mango and Blueberry, to entice and tease the taste buds with their distinctively different styles, strength and flavour.

Mango Berliner – 4 % ABV

What Tempest say:  “Sunshine in a glass no matter the weather!   The perfect summer beer. We brew it with a lager fermentation to give it that crisp, refreshing drinkability, but jam pack it with plenty fresh mango and dry hops to give it a super fruity, zingy punch”.

The verdict:  Refreshing.  So, so refreshing; a somewhat tart and fruity weisse Berliner-style beer which one starts sipping and ends gulping.

It’s light, very easy drinking and packed with fresh mango. That mango is immediately evident on the zesty tropical nose, with just a little dry, grassy hops. In the mouth it’s also light and balanced with easy-going tartness and a hint of shortbread.

Some people might hope for a more bitter or more hoppy experience but that is not really what this style is about, and this is just what it should be, a really refreshing Summer beer.

Other drinkers are equally impressed:

Mango ice cream taste. Surprisingly yummy.

Floral and ripe tropical aromas, notes of mango, papaya.

Lots of exotic fruity mango sweetness in the aroma, Great Berliner Weiss!

Peach Sour – 4.5% ABV

What Tempest say:

You’ll want to use your good can opener on this tin of peaches. We’ve mellowed out the fresh acidity of the peach with creamy, delicate vanilla.”

The verdict: Another Summer in a can in the form of peaches and cream.

Again, a Berliner weisse style beer that is big on fruit, this time an initial tart peach balanced with a dollop of vanilla cream.

A surprisingly full mouthfeel leaves an acidic finish with lasting peach flavour. Easy drinking and refreshing, it will be down to palate as to whether the sourness wins out over the fruity Mango Berliner.

Blueberry Pastry Stout – 9% ABV

What Tempest say: “An outrageous blueberry stout, hot from the pastry section”.

The verdict: Even after a great meal there is probably always time for dessert; perhaps even second helpings. No surprise then that gastropubs favour their roasts and speciality burgers but also feature the perennial and ubiquitous Sticky Toffee Pudding.

When the Summer fades we can start to long for some “comfort” food and it’s time also for the zingy, fresh stone and citrus fruity and hoppy IPAs to give way to something a little richer, more indulgent – perhaps even decadent.

Step up Tempest Brewing Company’s Blueberry Pastry Stout bearing the legend “… the bluer the berry, the sweeter, the thicker, the roastier, the chocolatier, the boozier, the stout”.  Stouts of this kind should be the liquid equivalent of cake or pastry; over-the-top in terms sweet, distinctive and clearly identifiable flavour.

Tempest’s offering hits the spot with this big, intensely blueberry, deeply dark stout. On the nose, the fruity blueberry aroma is instantly there against a background of malty dark chocolate. Rich and thick with a creamy, velvety mouth feel, that sweet blueberry flavour is to the fore with just a little bitterness in the background. The finish is long and, just when you think it has stopped giving, the blueberries rush back in with a smooth and warming last bite.

The ABV. of 9.0% vol provides a big slice of booze – Just make sure that you have room for pudding.

This richly flavoured dark stout could work well paired with a hearty dish such as a spicy Chilli, a Beef and Ale Pie, or a juicy Burger.

A spicy Chilli, Steak pie, Burger perfectly paired with Tempest Stout

Nothing is so traditional as a Ploughman’s Lunch, so why not pair a Tempest beer or Stout with a mature Cheddar Cheese and crusty bread.  Highly recommended is the awards winning Cheddar Gorge Cheese, the only cheddar cheese actually made in the village of Cheddar, Somerset. (www.cheddaronline.co.uk)

This Blueberry Pastry Stout is a winner:

Sweet taste at first, very boozy, strong blueberry, bittersweet flavour with well-balanced hop in the finish. Exquisite.

Pours a deep mahogany black with a violet tint. Creamy pale tan head. Strong notes of Cassis  with dark chocolate, creamy vanilla and liquorice on the palate.  Cannot wait to try this at the next Tempest beer festival!

2010 – 2020  From a garage in Christchurch to a brewery in Tweedbank, Happy 10th birthday Tempest. Cheers! 

Tempest Brewing Company have hosted annual Springfest and Oktoberfest and continue to host regular Tempest Tap sessions at the Brewery.  Take a trip to Tweedbank in the stunning, tranquil Scottish Borders.

For all information on the range of beers, on line purchase, suppliers and events at the Brewery, see the website.

https://www.tempestbrewco.com/browse

https://www.tempestbrewco.com/events

Address: 1&2, Block 11 Tweedbank Industrial Estate, Tweedbank  TD1 3RS

Telephone:  01896 759500

Tweedbank Station is just a six minute walk from the brewery, ideal for staff to commute and visitors travelling for brewery events and Festivals.

The re-launch of the Borders Railway in 2015 provides a vital transport link between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. Winner of the best new UK Tourism venture from the British Guild of Travel Writers, the route has brought much improved travel, tourism, social, economic, employment and environmental benefits to the Scottish Borders.

The Borders Railway campaign is now full speed ahead to extend the line to Hawick and Carlisle, which would be a further boost for Tempest Brewing Company.

The Borders Railway route through tranquil landscape from Edinburgh to Tweedbank

PURE Lite – the topical, trendsetting, low alcohol Vodka for cool, contemporary cocktails: half the calories, twice the fun

PURE Organic Vodka was launched onto the UK spirits market on 4th July 2019 with an exclusive boat party on the Thames. This exciting new product from WM Spirits soon made a splash around the country and secured drinks listings in bars and leisure venues such as the W Hotel, Cafe de Paris and Champneys Spa.

It was 2016, the time of the Instagram boom and the health and fitness, organic, vegan, ‘clean living’ craze. Drinks orders amongst the lads was moving away from pints to vodka soda & lime. I felt that there was more to this than just a change of drink and if it was happening in my local, I knew it would be happening elsewhere.”

Adam Player, Founder PURE organic vodka

The Founder, Adam Player with friends, at the launch of Pure Vodka, 2019.

PURE was inspired by a health-conscious, environmentally friendly, social lifestyle: Organic, vegan friendly, gluten free, with no additives, preservatives, carbs or thickeners and as minimal calories as possible. Pure, indeed.

After this early success, to celebrate its first birthday in July 2020, WM Spirits created PURE Lite, a low calorie, organic vodka with just 20% ABV compared to the standard 40%.

The launch of PURE Lite Vodka is timely and trendsetting, in response to an increased preference and demand for zero and low-alcohol beers, wines and spirits, with sales up 23% year on year. The growth comes as younger generations drink less alcohol and older people increasingly moderate their consumption.

PURE Vodka is an ultra-premium, clean, organic spirit, built on the foundation of high-quality raw ingredients and owing its unique taste to organic wheat.  The wheat is distilled to maximum purity removing any remaining impurities to create a light, smooth-tasting vodka.

This innovative brand has recently won a silver medal, competing against 83 entries in the 2020 Vodka Masters category at The Spirit Business Awards, less than two months after their 1st birthday in July.

So, time to taste and test this new Pure Lite low alcohol vodka.

The name vodka is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda (water), interpreted as little water:  Russia and Poland both claim vodka as their own invention, with the word ‘wodka’ recorded in Poland as early as 1405, a strong liquor of around 75% ABV.

The slender glass bottle of PURE Lite vodka has a decorative, crystal-cut design, like a classic Low Ball, Old Fashioned tumbler, used for serving neat spirits or a cocktail on the rocks. Comfortable to hold and practical for a firm grip.

PURE Lite – an elegant, slender bottle with decorative cut-glass design

The term Martini was first listed Thomas Stuart’s guide, Fancy Drinks published in 1896, featuring a recipe for the Gin-based cocktail with vermouth and orange bitters.  This became a fashionable aperitif spreading from American bars to UK, France and Italy, notably promoted on the European travels of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

For four decades, Ted Saucier was publicist for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, and in 1951 published a book on cocktails, Bottoms Up including the first recipe for the innovative Vodkatini.

Bottoms Up, by Ted Saucier (1951)

PURE Vodkatini

60ml PURE Organic Vodka or LITE vodka

15ml Dry Vermouth

Fill shaker with ice and add the measures of Vodka and Dry Vermouth

Shake well, strain and pour into cocktail glass. Garnish with olives

I would normally order a dry gin Martini, believing that the lack of herbal botanicals in vodka would not be such a flavoursome cocktail.  I was wrong. My PURE Lite Vodkatini had such a clean taste, deliciously dry  which hit the spot.

Through the 1950s and 60s, Vodka was a relatively new spirit being introduced in the States, marketed and promoted by celebrity entertainers including Benny Goodman, Harpo Marx and Woody Allen et al.

The classic Gin Martini was then literally shaken up by Ian Fleming at the Duke’s Bar, London where the novelist created the legendary, literary-inspired Vesper Martini.

Duke’s Bar, Duke’s Hotel, London – where the Vesper Martini was invented.

The precise recipe for a Vesper is given by James Bond to the bar tender in the novel Casino Royale, (1953).

“A Dry Martini”, he said. “ In a deep champagne goblet.”

“Oui, monsieur.”

“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordons gin, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

from ‘Casino Royale’, Ian Fleming

Be warned, the Vesper is a tad strong and at Dukes Bar – where this famous house cocktail is crafted and poured with perfection from freezer-chilled ingredients – the rule is a limit of two per person. This special Vodkatini is named after Vesper Lynd, Bond’s beautiful Girl in Casino Royale.

Vodka is also, of course, the key ingredient of a Bloody Mary, said to be the finest “hair of the dog” the morning after the night before. Almost one hundred years old, it was invented at Harry’s Bar, Paris, by Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, combining vodka and tomato juice, allegedly named after the Hollywood movie star, Mary Pickford.

By 1934, Petiot had become head bartender at the St. Regis, New York, where he was asked to spice up the Bloody Mary for a customer and so added a few drops of Tabasco. The recipe was adapted over the years with Worcester Sauce, horseradish, (optional), a garnish of olives, lemon and a stick of celery to use as a swizzle stick.

There is a fine tradition to sip a spicy Bloody Mary around 12 noon when at sea on a cruise ship. Tomato juice and lemon are an excellent source of Vitamin C and it’s either a refreshing, ice cold drink or a hearty, spicy drink, whatever the climate.

Bloody Mary time, 12 noon on the Silver Whisper – a seafaring tradition.

With Pure Lite Vodka, you would never realise the low alcohol content so the perfect, healthy, vitamin-rich cocktail.  The ideal partnership for a Sunday Brunch.

Being in the contemporary,  youthful lifestyle business, PURE has devised its own playlist  covering music genres from soul to pop, hip-hop and raps. Cool Sounds as you sip your Vodka cocktails.

Search ‘PURE Vodka’ on Spotify.

To find out more about PURE Organic Vodka and the new PURE LITE vodka, places to drink and where to purchase, as well as cocktail ideas, take a browse around the website.

http://www.wmspirits.co.uk

 

Beavertown Beers – Sci-fi fantastical, fun cans of refreshing tropical fruity, happy hoppiness

It was almost ten years ago in 2011, when Logan Plant, inspired by fine crafted beers and ales around the world, began experimenting to create his own brew using a 50 litre rice pan as a hot liquor tank, a camping cool box as a mash tun and a tea urn as a kettle.

Beavertown was born.

From small scale home brewing in Hackney,  the business has moved to state of the art premises in Tottenham Hale, employing forty members of staff, with two dozen tanks, canning line, distribution centre and an extensive Tap Room.

There is a popular Core range of six beers, Nanobot, Beavo, Bloody ‘Ell, Neck Oil, Gamma Ray and Lupuloid, each with their distinctive taste, style and creative inspiration.

“Every aspect of our brewing process is meticulously considered and our unique artwork is integral to our expression and philosophy as a brewery. We strive to attain the highest quality in all our beers which is why we introduced our core range into cans. Stability and freshness rules.

Logan Plant

Logan Plant, the founder of Beavertown (image courtesy of The Brewers Journal)

With this sense of focus, Beavertown fast developed to become a leader in the craft beer market, which can be attributed as much for the drinks as well as to its psychedelic labels.

Nick Dwyer started drawing labels for Beavertown Brewery not long after graduating from Central Saint Martins, where he’d studied illustration.  He didn’t realise at the time, but those initial drawings – which included the now iconic Gamma Ray –  gave Beavertown their strong brand identity.

While other craft beers have adopted bold packaging and wacky names, Beavertown very much set the trend. The stand-out, easily identified mind-altering labels came about at a time when, as Nick Dwyer himself admits,  “sticking spacemen, skeletons, skulls and weird shit exploding on cans was something unexpected”.

It’s one of those design moments that go on to influence others … similar in impact to the visual style of the genre defining Borderland the space western, science fantasy video game as well as the noirish calaca-like Day of the Dead figures of Grim Fandango the 3D computer graphic adventure.

At Beavertown, we believe beer is more than just a beer, it’s an experience”

Neck Oil Session IPA  4.3% ABV

What Beavertown say: “This started life as a home-brew. We wanted to create a light, crisp, punchy, go to beer! A beer that you know you can pick up and appreciate or simply kick back, relax and oil your neck.   The name Neck Oil comes from our founder Logan, fondly remembering his Grandad – “off down the pub for a pint of neck oil”.

Verdict: Very pale straw coloured, a tropical tang on the nose and taste and lightly hopped. Not too much carbonation, refreshing, slightly dry on the finish.  This is a classic American IPA, a superb balance of bitter grapefruit, hoppy flavour with subtle pineapple and peach sweetness. The ultimate thirst quencher.

Lupuloid IPA  6.7% ABV

What Beavertown say: “ …first straight up IPA, no funny business, just malt, yeast, water and hops. Lots of hops.”

Verdict: A slightly hazy, lemon colour.  Aroma is juicy fruity giving the taste buds a sharp zing of grapefruit, mango and citrus with an underlying herbal tone of grassy hops, Very drinkable and richly refreshing.

Gamma Ray  5.4% ABV

What Beavertown say: “ the concept was to create a juicy tropical beer. A brew you can sit on and drink all day, rammed with juicy malts and huge aromas of mango and grapefruit. Massive additions of American hops.”

Verdict:  A cloudy, orange-gold colour with some carbonation.  On the nose, tropical fruit, citrus and herbal hops. Enticing blend of passion fruit, tangy tangerine, lemon, pine and peppery spice. Smooth and easy drinking with a satisfying long bitter finish.

Bloody ‘Ell  7.5% abv

What Beavertown say: “ A smack of citrus with hints of warm blood orange aromas brought on by refined malt and loads of juicy hops.” 

Verdict:  Sunshine straw colour with fizzy head, sweet orange aroma.  Herbal hoppy and dry biscuit combined with grapefruit and blood orange zestiness underlying dark coffee  notes. Finishes with a dry bitterness softened with citrus.

Nanobot  2.8% ABV

What Beavertown say: “our low ABV IPA – a style we affectionately term the Super Session IPA  Nanobot is packed with power hitting citrus notes, a tropical twist of pina colada and a refreshing piney bitter finish to give you the full body and flavour of a 5% IPA. The addition of oats and wheat to the brew give a fuller, richer mouthfeel at just  97 kcal per can and around half the ABV as a regular IPA as well as 100% vegan.

Verdict:  A clear straw yellow pour with a bubbly white head, and fragrant scent of pine and tangerine; fresh citrus, grapefruit and mandarin flavours, light, crisp and easily sipped over a super IPA drinking session.

Beaverton received two gold medals at the International Beer Challenge for their core range beers Gamma Ray & Neck Oil with a Silver medal for Bloody ‘Ell.

Even before you crack open a can, the quirky, colourful, fantastical, fun design makes you smile; then the bittersweet aroma hits the nostrils, as you sip and savour the sunny, tropical island fruit flavours to ensure hoppy happiness.

Beavertown doesn’t just offer a cool beer, but a satisfying drinking experience.  Cheers.!

No wonder this inspirational brewery has been named as one of the best 21st Century start-ups in the UK, in the new “World Atlas of Beer”, 3rd edition, 2020, by Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont. Published by Mitchell Beazley.

This is a beautifully illustrated and comprehensive guide to global beers and breweries with a concise history of the brewing industry from original invention to topical stories and entrepreneurial businesses.

Read all about the Beavertown Brewery, Core Range, limited editions, where to purchase and visiting the Tap Room.

Check out Beer Finder here too for your local bar serving Beavertown craft beers.

https://shop.beavertownbrewery.co.uk/collections/beer  

Beavertown listed in the Beer Atlas of the World, 1920 Webb & Beaumont, (Mitchell Beazley)

 

The Artists’ Pool showcase an imaginative response to Lockdown in “Times Like These” @ Dundas Street Gallery

The Artist’s Pool was established in 2004  with the intention of embracing the power of art to bring people together and support their creativity. Each member brings their unique personality and skill set to the pool – a mixture of cultures and experiences with an harmonious goal – to promote the positivity, connectivity and healing power of art.’

In their latest showcase, “Times Like These”, group of nine artists give a personal response to finding their lives turned upside down by lockdown.  When the rushing abruptly ceased, all routines fell out of the window and living in the present became the only option.  There’s little normal about the ’new normal’.

There is extraordinary creativity here, a fascinating sweep of varied genres from contemplative seascapes and updated versions of classic works, to colourful abstracts and Graphic Art.  Here is look around the work of four of the artists.

During World War 2,  morale-boosting notices encouraged the British people to “Keep Calm and Carry On”,  which has in recent years been endlessly adapted into humorous phrases such as “Save Water, Drink Champagne”.

The wartime slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On”

At the start of lockdown in March 2020, the stark warning has been “Stay Home, Save Lives”.  This was the impetus for Adam Lucy to invent a series of Pop Art, public service announcements.

Artists’ Pool @ Dundas Street Gallery – featuring Adam Lucy’s poster on the right

” I would never have believed the extent of the disruption and turmoil the world would experience due to COVID-19.   A bundle of art and fashion magazines and a limited palette of acrylic paints I managed to grab from my studio, provided the materials for the work you see here”. Adam Lucy

There’s No Place Like Home, Adam Lucy

With reference to Dorothy’s dream in The Wizard of Oz, clicking her sparkly red shoes, “There’s No Place like Home” echoes BoJo’s plea to the nation on 23rd March.  This neatly-crafted collage of cut-out letters and pasted images, creates a witty and wise warning.

Likewise, in “You Have the Power” a God-like figure points his outstretched finger at Everyman/woman to adhere to the rules. Reminscent of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam, the meaning is about the spark of life and humanity.  These modern Keep Calm-style posters in the era of the global pandemic are effective, graphic illustrations to spread the word.

You Have the Power, Adam Lucy

Esperanza Gómez-Carrera also uses text in her artwork made from vintage books with imaginative vision. Her father’s family were in the bookbinder business,  and she grew up in a house filled with books.   With charming theatricality, she makes cut out, Intervened books, such as “Love Lyrics”, which features a tiny doll’s house-sized bride and groom at their wedding.

Love Lyrics, Esperanza Gómez-Carrera – a sculptured, Intervened book

 “ I work with sculptures, installations and performances” she explains. “For the most part, I enjoy exploring and re-interpreting everyday objects in humorous waysIt is always with a sense of respect that I give books a new chance at life and share a different message.”

Also on show are several atmopheric seascapes by Helen Campbell such as the dark, threatening rain clouds in “Evening Light.”  The fading glimmer of dusk shimmers on the rough waves, as the eye is drawn to the misty distant horizon.

Evening Light, Helen Campbell

The tiny figure, just visible to the left on the beach was apparently added at the last moment, to give perspective.  There is a real sense of isolation here, this lonely soul braving the elements.

During lockdown she spent a good deal of time embracing the natural world near her home in the New Forest.

 “ I learned birdcalls, studied the night sky, sat and watched the deer at dusk. I stopped and looked, slowly calming down and recalling why I love the changing seasons.  These paintings come from moments in my life when I was truly ‘there’ and remind me not to lose that connection so easily again.”   Helen Campbell

Against the Light, Helen Campbell

“Against the Light” is a mesmerising scene, where a bright, gold-flamed, surreal spectre stands staring out to sea, again denoting solitude away from humanity and society.  Some viewers may find a religious connotation in this haunting image.

Inspired by the work of the classic Masters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Titian and Jacques Louis David, John Slavin has updated the narrative of historical, Biblical and legendary events for the present global crisis.

Belisarius Begging for Alms, John Slavin

As a homage to Jacques Louis David’s  original painting, “Belisarius Begging for Alms,” reflects the widespread situation of begging in city streets and metro stations today.  Slavin noticed that during the Pandemic, when the streets were deserted, homeless people in Edinburgh were given accommodation and financial support.

‘Babel Tower’ is his reimagination of Bruegel’s ‘The Great Tower of Babel’, 1563.

Babel Tower, John Slavin

 ‘I’m concerned with the fall of the tower, the aftermath of incommunicable shock and the silent nature of Babel.  What are the consequences of total collapse, …. that the state is compromised, as has been the case with covid-19.”

“Times Like These” is a thought-provoking and inspiring exhibition which reflects the artists’ personal emotions, experiences and vision of this brave new, socially distanced and disrupted world.

Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

21 – 29 August, 2020

For more information on The Artists’ Pool, this exhibition and the artists:

https://www.theartistspool.co.uk/

Times Like These exhibition by The Artists’ Pool @ Dundas Street Gallery

Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA, a solo show at the Grilli Gallery: Sunny French landscapes and decorative Still Life studies

During the Edinburgh Festival season each year, the well-established Grilli gallery on Dundas Street has always presented a special exhibition to attract both city residents and international visitors. This year it’s a most inspiring solo showcase by Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA.

Jack Morocco was born in 1953 into a renowned family of artists, including his mother Rozelle, uncle Alberto and cousin Leon.  He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, a broad-based degree course including graphic design, illustration, textiles, life drawing, painting, portraiture, still life and photography.

Cafe Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence, Jack Morocco

The prominent genre here are landscapes, especially around the South of France – the daily life around Uzes, Arles and Aix-en-Provence – as well as Spain and Venice.  Here are most evocative scenes of outdoor cafes with locals and holiday visitors, enjoying a coffee or a leisurely lunch in the warm sunshine.

Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid

The figures in Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid may appear to be rough sketches, but there’s fine detail in the colours and style of clothes, such as the girl in a jaunty panama hat, her long legs stretched out under the table. Faces are mainly just blank smudges, but you still get the impression of age and character, gesture and body language.

Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, Jack Morocco

Here, and also in Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, the masterly use of dappled light, softly shimmering through the leaves of the trees, creating the contrasting gradations of shade and shadow.

This technique is particularly well handled in Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Provence, featuring small vignettes of families and children, elegant couples and a dog.  Again, with just a simple splosh of colour, there is such accuracy to illustrate this disparate group of people in an array of shorts and hats on this summer day.

Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Jack Morocco

Take a stroll through tree lined squares, from Place and Plaza to enticing fruit and vegetable markets. These have a remarkable sense of movement as the shoppers stroll around the stalls.

Produit de Provence, Jack Morocco

Venice is also another favourite place where Morocco loves to capture the water and the tranquility, where its iconic ambience, he says, haven’t changed for two hundred years.

Ponte del Cavaletto shows an old hump-backed stone bridge with iron railings, where a girl in an orange T shirt has stopped to stand in the centre, looking down to observe a grey haired gentlemen, sitting on the walkway beside the canal.  He looks like an artist at his easel – perhaps Jack Morocco himself ?

Ponte del Cavaletto, Jack Morocco

So much to see here – the balcony brimming with flowers, the ochre and pink stone houses, the glimpse of a blue boat, reflected on the calm surface of the water.

In the back room of the gallery, there are several Still Life paintings, to show the diverse range of expertise, subject and genre of the artist in this exhibition.  Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot is a stunning composition, where the texture and material of each individual object – flower petals, shiny apple, the fold of a cloth, glint of wine glass and polished silver pot – is depicted with such clarity, care and precision.

Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot, Jack Morocco

There are also decorative, abstract studies of musical instruments, fruit, ceramics and mini portraits, in Picasso-esque style, as in the delightful Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs.

Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs, Jack Morocco

The fine art of “Nature Morte” dates back to the Egyptians, Roman and Greek frescoes and mosaics, later developed by the Dutch masters and then popular with the Impressionists, notably, Van Gogh and Cezanne.  As an evolving painterly tradition, ancient and modern through the centuries, it is essential that Still Life continues to be taught in art colleges in the 21st century.

If August 2020 has been spent in staycation mode, feel the heat of the Mediterranean summer, soft golden sand and sea breeze in a few beach scenes: La Plage en Famille and the atmospheric, Boats and Bathers, with suntanned holiday makers relaxing under a parade of parasols, shaded from the glare of the midday sun.

Boats and Bathers, Jack Morocco

Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA

25 July to 29 August, 2020

The Grilli Gallery, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

www.art-grilli.co.uk

tel. 0131 261 4264

Gallery opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs, 11am-4pm. Sat. 10am-1pm.

Lute, Lilies and Utamaro’s Girls, Jack Morocco