Archive | Scotland RSS for this section

A trio of artists at the Dundas Street Gallery take us on a trip from the Scottish Highlands to Transylvania

Dundas Street Gallery – an attractive showcase of pop up exhibitions year round

Filly Nicol, Tessa Whitley and Brenda Martin  have been sharing studio space for some years, encouraging and criticising each others’ work, so decided it was time to show their work together.  The Dundas Street Gallery is the ideal spacious pop up venue to exhbit their distinctively different yet complementary landscape and figurative paintings, floral and still life sketches.

With a passion for travel way off the beaten track, Filly experienced an extraordinary authentic trip on a local boat, rather than a touristic cruise.  Along the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar are traditional riverside villages and local markets selling vegetables and fish.

After Shopping, Nyaungshwe, Filly Nicol

Using oil and beeswax on canvas or board, here is a selection of well crafted paintings to illustrate people and places reflecting the timeless culture of former Burma, the sights and sounds described in Kipling’s poem, the Road to Mandalay.

Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

.. ..spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay

Strolling along the Teak Bridge, Filly Nicol

Water in particular fascinates me as do people going about their daily lives .. the sounds, smells and colours and their animals … I take in the plays of light and wind in skies, on land and on water, the atmosphere and scenes.  Filly Nicol

Described as the Fairy Tales lands of Transylvania, the tradition and tranquility of rural Romania is charmingly portrayed in pastoral vignettes to show shepherds and cowherds busy at work and also an elderly woman at leisure in Knitting in the Sunshine, Viscri.

Knitting in the Sunshine, Filly Nicol

Viscri is a famous village due to its ancient Saxon heritage, and Filly is keen to preserve a painterly vision of peasant farming life here unchanged over the centuries, before it disappears over the next generation.

The Scottish winter is a key inspirational theme for Tessa’s landscapes with an expressive, intuitive use of various shades of white on off-white on buttermilk with a smudge of grey, blending snow and heavy laden skies; almost abstract in the manner of flourishing brushstrokes like a thick layer of icing in paintings, such as Winter Hill.

Winter Hill, Tessa Whitley

The soft light is beautifully depicted as the eye follows shadowy tracks snaking through snowy fields, as seen in Flotterstone and Nine Mile Burn – like this this painterly winter scene with pink-tinted sky and real touch of the cold air, which really chills you to the bone!

Field and Track under snow, Tessa Whitley

Travel on north to the remote wilderness of the Highlands, from the west to east coast in a series of scenic views in oil pastel on paper, from Helmsdale to Achiltibuie with its view over to the Summer Isles.

Achiltibuie, Tessa Whitley

After graduating from The Royal College of Art, Brenda worked as a designer in the fashion industry overseas before returning to the UK to work as a BBC costume designer.  Also inspired by the Scottish countryside, she spends a good deal of time in a cottage on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, observing the changing light over Loch Sunart, the hills and forests beyond, as viewed on a summer day and evening dusk.

Most impressive are these mixed media work framed as diptychs, the panoramic views as seen quickly sketched on her drawing pad, en plein air.  

Blue Hills across Loch Sunart, Brenda Martin

Sweeping seascapes such as Storm over Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, and other glorious sandy beaches and empty shorelines, in which the bold blue sky dominates the stunning composition.

Storm over Bamburgh Castle, Brenda Martin

With her background in fabric and fashion, Brenda uses fluid paintbrush strokes to fill the canvas with vivid colour, tone and texture to capture blossoming flowers, gardens and the unspoilt natural beauty of Highlands and Islands.

The Empty Wheelbarrow, Brenda Martin

This trio of landscape artists take the visitor on an evocative journey from the Highlands of Scotland to Romania, Isle of Mull to Helmsdale and Northumberland coastline to Kipling’s river in Myanmar with a marvellous, atmospheric sense of time and place.

The Dundas Street Gallery

6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

10 – 15 October, 2015

Open Daily: 1000- 1700.

Green Crayons, Brenda Martin


Scottish Art: Bonhams, Edinburgh, 16 October, 2019 – an illustrated preview.

Founded in London in 1793, by Thomas Dodd, a famous print dealer of the day, Bonhams is an international auction house with nine salesrooms including London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Edinburgh. Today it is renowned for its expert reputation as connoisseurs in fine art, antiques, furnishings, decorative art, motor cars, wine, whisky, books, jewellery and collectibles.

Sales of Scottish Art have been held at the Edinburgh showroom twice a year since around 1996.  Always a key date in the calendar, it has been a delight to browse through the illustrated and informative catalogue in advance of the next auction on 16th October, 2019 at 11am at Bonhams, Queen Street, Edinburgh.

Royan Harbour, Samuel Peploe

A recently discovered painting, “Royan Harbour” by Samuel Peploe has a most interesting provenance. It was purchased around 1910-1915 by Mme Marie Marguerite Soulie, the wife of English novelist and playwright Arnold Bennett, and since then passed on through the family. Royan is a resort town and marina on the West coast of France.

The beach scenes that Peploe painted at Paris Plage in 1906, 07, 08, are dominated by the blue of daylight.  The high point of this development came in the small paintings of the harbour at Royan in 1910. Peploe, aware of both Van Gogh and Les Fauves, turns up the colour key just so far … the experience of intense sunlight.”  Duncan Macmillan “Scottish Art”.

This detailed impressionist composition in various shimmering shades of blue, ochre and buttermilk, using broad brush strokes to depict a charming ‘smudge’ of figures as they promenade along the waterfront to see the yachts and lighthouse in the bright summer sun.

Beach scenes and seascapes, from the Western Isles to the South of France, was a recurring theme for the Scottish Colourists. Another harbour view, “Cassis”  (1927) by Leslie Hunter is delicate ink and crayon sketch of boats reflected in the water.

Cassis, Leslie Hunter

In 1912, Francis Cadell visited Iona for the first time, immediately inspired by the light of sea, sky and sand.  “Mull from Iona”  is a serene scene, looking over the roof of a white-washed house across the narrow turquoise-tinted Sound under a pale sky.

Mull from Iona, Francis Cadell

A wide selection of Scottish seascapes here,  such as “Inch Kenneth and Loch Na Keal, from Iona” (1922) by William Mervyn Glass, which leads the eye the foreground of the rocky shore far into the distant misty hills. “Sannox Bay, Isle of Arran” by John Maclauchlan Milne is also a fine perspective looking across a sweeping bay, the white surf lapping the shore, and golden leaves on the trees with a sense of a breeze in the Autumn air.

Interesting indeed to compare these early 20th century works with the contemporary painting, “Fishing Boat, Corse” by Archie Forrest, with a similar palette of azure to depict the bright light of the Mediterranean.

Fishing Boat, Corse, Archie Forrest

There is a distinctive trademark to the abstract landscapes of Barbara Rae – a dramatic explosion of brash, bold colour and a vitality of movement. With a soft, moody ambience, “Sea Marks”  has an extraordinary watery quality with a splash of moonshine.

Sierra above Carataunas, Barbara Rae

Rae travels the world to capture a topographical sense of place: “It’s the culture and history that fascinates me,” and returns regularly to Spain. “Sierra above Caratuanus” is observed through a rainbow palette to enhance the contours of the terrain with a warm luminosity.

A significant collection of twelve works by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham is a true highlight of this sale. As a member of the St Ives School, she was a key figure in developing Modernist British painting in the mid twentieth century.

“Black and White” (1954), part of her Geoff and Scruffy series, captures with such simplicity, the curving shapes of a moon and beach. She developed her own inventive abstract language fascinated by the geometry of nature of the rocky Cornish landscape.

Expanding Forms,(with orange), Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

The precise discipline of structural composition is evident in “Expanding Forms (with orange) and “Untitled – “Firth of Forth,” the rust red girders of the Rail Bridge in close up.

Scorpio ii, no. 38, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

In contrast, are two later works, acrylic on paper, from the Scorpio series (1997); vibrant patterns of interlocking squares, diagonal stripes and circles, quite hypnotic in their painterly freedom of expression.

My theme is celebration of life, joy, the importance of colour, form, space and texture. Brushstrokes that can be happy, risky, thin, fat, fluid and textured.” Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

The Scottish Sale features a fine selection of portraits painted over the decades, from Sir Henry Raeburn to the masterly figurative study by Francis Cadell –  “Miss Don Wauchope in the George Street Studio.”  

Miss Don Wauchope in George Street Studio, Francis Cadell

 Miss Wauchope was a friend and regular model of the artist, several featuring this dramatic black hat.  Cadell’s studio on George Street, Edinburgh was a Salon decorated in white, grey and lilac with  black floorboards. Furniture, mirrors and artwork were placed like a theatrical setting for this fashionable lady.

Chris Brickley, Head of Scottish Art at Bonhams, comments: “Intimate in atmosphere and fluid in technique, the Wauchope pictures transcend the norm of conventional portrait-painting and become abstract studies of the elegant high society of early 20th century Edinburgh.”

Glamorous men and women with vintage style is the forte of Jack Vettriano.  His moody film-noir portraits reveal a private, intimate world behind closed doors, such as “Private Dancer”  (1998) – lady in black, escort in white, with a glimpse of another couple behind, reflected in the mirror.

Private Dancer, Jack Vettriano

“Lounge Lizards II” (2009) is another sexual encounter, which clearly expresses the subtle, seductive glance of the girl, cigarette holder in hand, waiting for a light from the tall dark stranger.

.. the manipulation of paint in veiled glazes and meaningful shadows, the music of colour and the dramatic focus of composition .. such an identifiable personal style.” W. Gordon Smith. “Lovers and Other Strangers, Jack Vettriano”

In a very different mode are the much admired character portraits depicted by Pat Douthwaite, such as this pastel and chalk drawing, “Female Model.”

Female Model, Pat Douthwaite

This wild, Bohemian lady with a mass of hair, blue eye shadow and pouting lip is typical of Douthwaite’s quirky, crazy Baconian caricatures with a hint of a darker psychological undertone lurking beneath the humorous image.

From the pioneering Colourists to the eminent work of Stanley Cursiter, Sir Robin Philipson, Anne Redpath, David McClure and Elizabeth Blackadder, et al., this diverse showcase of Scottish Art at Bonhams is an inspiring, comparative survey stretching more than a century.


22 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JX

Scottish Art – Wednesday 16 October 2019 at 11am.

The Viewing Dates are as follows:

Friday 11 October            10.00am-4.00pm

Sunday 13 October           2.00pm-4.00pm

Monday 14  October       10.00am-4.00pm

Tuesday 15 October         10.00am-4.00pm

Wednesday 16 October     9.00am-11.00am

On line catalogue –

For more information –   Tel.  0131 225 2266

(IIustrations of works courtesy of Bonhams)

Roma Mediterranean Restaurant, Glasgow: Pizza and a glass of Pinot Grigio – the perfect pre-theatre treat

The idea of a Mediterranean cuisine originates with Elizabeth David’s  A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950), who defines the region as “those blessed lands of sun and sea and olive trees” – a healthy diet rich in olive oil, fruit, vegetables, salads and seafood.   Italian food is arguably the most popular cuisine enjoyed worldwide, characterised by its simplicity, fresh, quality, seasonal ingredients in such dishes as risotto, pizza and pasta.

On a visit to Glasgow recently to see Scottish Ballet at the Theatre Royal, I booked a table for an early supper at Roma Mediterranean Restaurant on Bath Street, a five minute stroll from Queen Street station and afterwards, just a short walk around the corner to the theatre.

Roma – a taste of Italy on Bath Street, Glasgow

Roma offers an enticing, set price, pre theatre menu, ideal before going to a matinee or an evening performance.

The well designed restaurant is so attractive, creating an authentic Italian ambience decorated in the national colours of red, green and white, glamorous lights and “ancient Rome” artefacts. Caricature models of a waiter and a chef placed at the entrance offer a warm welcome.

A welcome from the Maitre d’ at Roma!

Comfortable seating from the row of tables for two at the window, to cosy booths and spacious banquettes around the side walls, ideal for drinks, lunch or dinner party with family and friends.

Flexible seating in booths and banquettes for two, four or large party group.

Settled into my booth like a vintage railway carriage, time to study the menu over a chilled glass of Prosecco. This is served as a mini bottle (200ml),  Vino Spumante, the perfect aperitivo!

The cool Cocktail list features a Cosmo, the favourite of the “Sex and the City” girls, Vesper Martini, invented by Ian Fleming for James Bond (gin, vodka, kina lillet, lemon peel) and house Roma Special– (vodka, peach schnapps, Amaretto, orange) and many more tempting tipples.

Vesper Martini – created for James Bond

A wide choice of starters – Minestrone soup, Mussels in Beer, Crostini Caprino (garlic bread with peppers and goats cheese), and Aletti de Polo (chargrilled chicken wings)

Mussels cooked in Beer with garlic and chilli

I selected Gamberoni Fritti. These fat, juicy prawns covered in a thin crisp batter, just lightly sauted, were simply delicious, served with a red, green shredded cabbage salad. Unlike the ubiquitous coleslaw in mayo, the crispy cabbage was just drizzled with a herby vinaigrette.

Gamberoni Fritti, succulent, king prawns

By 5.30pm Roma was getting busy with other early diners, couples and friends meeting after work or shopping before going to the cinema or theatre.  A buzzing atmosphere, as the music switched gradually from popular Italian tunes and romantic American songbook to orchestral versions of pop ballads. A well selected soundtrack which is more upbeat later on in the evening and at weekends.

Pollo al Pepe, Chicken in a black peppercorn creamy sauce with rice

On the Pre -Theatre menu, main courses include classic Lasagne al Forno, Pollo al Pepe, Risotto Funghi, Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Shrimp with garlic), Branzino com Gamberi, ( Seabass in a butter sauce), and carnivores will no doubt select the 9 oz Ribeye Steak with salad and chips. (just a small extra charge to set price).

Ribeye Steak with salad and fries

Amo La Pizza!  So what to choose as my topping on Pizza Margherita.? Salami, ham, spicy chicken, onions, courgette, aubergine, peppers, cheese. The Pizzaiolo (the Pizza chef) is extremely proud of his home-made, hand-baked pizzas, preparing the small round balls of dough, 24 hours in advance which are then chilled.   Gluten-free dough is also available at Roma.  Pizzas are made to order, rolling out the dough in a sprinkle of flour on a cold marble table top in the kitchen. Tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella plus your selection of toppings, before it is stone baked in the oven, at a temperature of 320 degrees Celsius.

Pizza Pollo Picante + a wide choice of toppings

For my Pizza Margherita, with peppers, courgette and aubergine, I add a special request that it has a soft base with no hard crunchy crust – into the hot oven and out again.!

As this is being hand crafted by the Pizzaiola, I sip a glass of Sicilian Pinot Grigio – a light, dry white wine with a citrusy tang.  The wine list is very well priced, £4 to £5  or so a glass, and choice of bottles to share under £20.  Many wines from Italy, of course, as well as South America, Spain and South Africa.

Fine wines at Roma

My pizza is out of the oven, perfectly baked to my preference – creamy melted mozzarella, with a scattering of healthy vegetables – I love the inventive touch of spicy paprika on the tomatoes. Already sliced for me, I was able to pick up and fold over a delicious soft, cheesey wedge and eat with my fingers.!

Delicious pizza to eat with your fingers!

Desserts too for those with a sweet tooth – Tiramisu, Sticky toffee Pudding and Ice cream with perhaps a cappuccino or espresso to finish off a fine meal.

The pre-theatre menu (or indeed post-theatre menu after a matinee), is excellent value at 2 courses for £12.95 and 3 courses for £14.95, available seven days a week, from 12 pm to 7.30pm.  You can expect a team of smiling, helpful staff,  stylish setting,  cool music, lively ambience,  freshly made food and wide choice of drinks.

So good – just one slice left!

The Restaurant is open  every day from 12pm to 12 midnight which is so convenient and flexible to call in for lunch, pre theatre meal, and a leisurely dinner late into the evening.  Everyone is clearly welcome  – couples, families, children, girls’ night out and party groups.  Alternatively, call in for a glass of wine or cocktails  – you do not need to order a meal if the restaurant is not busy at say, Aperitivo time,  5 – 7pm.  Chin Chin!

No wonder Roma was selected as the winner of Glasgow’s best Italian Restaurant, 2018,

It is not too early to think about planning your Christmas celebrations and Roma is open for lunch and dinner serving a special festive menu from 18th November to 5th January, including Christmas Day.

“Roma honours tradition while creating unique, inspiring dishes.  We hope that once you have arrived, you will feel it was well worth the journey.”

Yes indeed.!   Whenever you plan to visit, you can expect an authentic Italian experience – design, hospitality, classic dishes and delicious wine, cocktails, spirits and beers.

Read on to see what other diners have to say!

We enjoyed our Penne Rustica and Tagliatelle with Shrimp and Asparagus. Nice selection of wine and beer.

Lunch at Roma before going to the theatre. Fantastic food, great service, reasonably priced. 

Dinner with my family – the waiters were so polite and all the food was amazing. I recommend this place to everyone.

Roma Mediterranean Restaurant

46 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 1HG


Telephone: 0141 332 9641

Colouful cocktails and a warm welcome at Roma Mediterranean Restaurant


The cult Sci-Fi novel “Solaris” by Stanislaw Lem is imaginatively staged as a chilling thriller at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

Original book cover, of Solaris, 1961

Let us take you with us to Solaris, planet of mystery, embodiment of man’s latent conflict with the unknown. Man, face to face with his conscience, and with his past.”

The philosophical science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem was published in Polish in 1961, (English translation, 1970), a timeless masterpiece as a dark, emotional exploration of the human psyche.

Poster image for the 1972 Movie directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

The Movie by Andrei Tarkovsky, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, 1972, and the remake in 2002 by director Steven Soderbergh was turned into more of a romantic drama starring George Clooney.

David Greig has now adapted the narrative from page to stage, set in a Space Station orbiting the planet Solaris which is surrounded by a swirling, stormy ocean.  Kris Kelvin, a psychologist has just arrived to investigate the work of the research team and complete the mission, following the death of the director, Dr. Gibarian.

Fode Simbo as Snow and Polly Frame as Kris as she arrives at the Space Station

Kris is welcomed by Dr. Snow on arrival and and then meets Dr. Sartorius when the three scientists, dressed in their green khaki uniform of T shirts and combat trousers, later that evening. It’s a surreal social occasion as they chat and share a bottle of wine, as if Kris is visiting a friend for supper, back on Earth. But soon Sartorius is distant and reclusive while Snow is quietly watchful in the company of this new intruder. As if traumatised by something, what are they hiding?

Polly Frame as Kris and Jade Ogugua as Sartorius

The white, box like set is more minimalist, domestic Scandi design than Star Trek /Tardis spacecraft: smart, sleek and functional, hideaway work desks, kitchen table and beds all slide, silently in and out of the walls in a series of short, snappy scenes.

Kelvin is mesmerised by her first glimpse of Solaris, as we also view a panoramic seascape film of wild, rolling waves on screen – this drops down at frequent intervals, immersing us into the black-out of Space.

The night stared me in the face, amorphous, blind, infinite, without frontiers. Not a single star relieved the darkness behind the glass.” from “Solaris”

A collection of video tapes recorded by the late Gibarian are personal messages for Kris to explain that the planet is believed to be a sentient, brain-like organism. The crew have all been haunted by hallucinatory figures, known “visitors” from their past lives. “We are not alone” is his shocking warning.

A Message from the dead: Hugo Weaving and Polly Frame as Gibarian and Kelvin –

While asleep, she has a visitation herself, waking up to find Ray, her deceased lover curled up in bed beside her. Initially fearful, she needs to understand more about this humanoid manifestation, apparently drawn from her dreams, memories and feelings of loss, guilt, regret.

Kris, Sartorius and Snow with their new visitor “Ray” – the subject of scientific study.

Although irrational, Kris, as a psychologist, tries to rekindle an emotional attachment to find out the truth of their relationship and his death.  This strange encounter is well dramatised – Polly Frame captures the lively energy of a youthful Kris, while Keegan Joyce as “Ray”, expresses a cheeky, childlike personality with bursts of manic, manipulative behaviour unsure of his identity.

The characteristic trope of classic science fiction illustrates the first contact with alien life.  Stanislaw Lem felt that the 1972 movie of his novel failed to capture the extraordinary physical and psychological “alienness” of Solaris.

A view of the alien ocean planet, Solaris from the 1972 movie.

Theatre can, however, create a tangible sense of realism. With an undercurrent of dramatic mood music, bold lighting and dreamlike visual effects, the mysterious, menacing planet is an omnipresent “character” as an invasive extra-terrestrial force.  As the scientists attempt to communicate with Solaris, this ‘thinking’ Oceanic brain is able to access their subconscious and identity as a mirror to their souls.

How do you expect to communicate with the Ocean, when you can’t even understand one another?”  from “Solaris”

Inventively designed and directed with a subtle, slow growing tension, the white, stark, sterile setting creates an ice-cold, claustrophobic atmosphere.  The classic cult novel “Solaris” has been re-imagined with cool, composed performances, up close and personal, as an electrifying thriller, which chills to the bone.

Solaris, a new play by David Greig.

Directed by Matthew Lutton. Cast: Polly Frame, Keegan Joyce, Jade Ogugua, Fode Simbo, Hugo Weaving

This is a co production between the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne and Lyric Hammersmith, London. 

The first performance took place at the Malthouse Theatre on 28 June, 2019 

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh (

12th September to 5th October, 2019

Lyric Hammersmith, London (

10th October to 2nd November, 2019

Encounter: an exhibition of paintings, photography and drawings by Sophia Pauley & Nancy Nightingale – cool, crafted artwork with a sense of stillness and harmony

“They don’t teach drawing in art schools anymore. It’s criminal. Teaching drawing teaches people to look.” —

David Hockney, 2014

Fortunately, the Edinburgh College of Art introduced, inspired and instilled in these two young artists the fine ability to draw and paint intricate, cool, crafted compositions.

Sophia Pauley graduated in 2018 with a 1st class Honours degree in Art and now specialises in large scale, bold, colourful abstract paintings on canvas or wood, screen printing and painted sculptural installations.

Tangent ii, Sophia Pauley

Dominating the vast concrete floor and expanse of white wall is the Tangent series of paired diptych canvases in which Pauley brings a flowing wave of swirling colour, curving shape with linear precision; she is inspired by water from natural landscape to manmade structure, from lake and sea to swimming pool.

Tangent, i, ii, iii, Sophia Pauley

Of course, Hockney was also attracted to paint the sunlight on dappling blue water of Los Angeles pools of luxury Hollywood mansions.

Acrylic, spray and gloss paint is used to create a Tiffany-blue grid which certainly reflects the shimmering, cool water of a pool, surrounded by red, green, pink and blue boomerangs and stripes.

Tangent, part 2, Sophia Pauley

The painterly pattern, bold palette, parallel lines, squares and rectangles bring Mondrian’s decorative designs clearly to mind, and reflect an underlying mood of quiet contemplation.

Viewing Sophia’s work on her website, there are other installations and canvases – splintered triangles, oblongs and diagonal shapes with an explosion of colour, dynamic energy, rhythm and movement.

Nancy Nightingale also graduated from the ECA in 2018, specialising in painting, but also trained in drawing, film and photography, to observe exterior and interior worlds.  Whatever the subject, she combines these diverse skills, such as creating a filmic quality within a painting with extraordinary dexterity, tone and texture.

Rise, Nancy Nighingale

Most evocative is the realistic ambience in “Rise” illustrating the tangled tumble of an unmade bed with the quality of an almost out of focus, sepia tinted, photograph.  Alison Watt is renowned for her depiction of the flowing folds of fabric, and here too Nightingale’s delicately composed oil painting captures the soft draping swathe of duvet and sheet with a masterly touch.

Rise (close up image), Nancy Nightingale

Like a voyeur we are drawn in, trying to see if that is a person, or perhaps a couple, lurking half hidden in the shadowy sunlight. This creates a boundary between abstraction and figurative art, with just the suggestion of human presence within the beautifully crafted “portrait” of this intimate setting.

Tracey Emin’s best known installation, ‘My Bed’, (1998) was her artistic response to a relationship breakdown – her own bed with a scattering of her personal things across the crumpled sheets.  The enigmatic work was re-sold at Christies in 2014 for £2.2 million. “I bought “My Bed” because it is a metaphor for life, where troubles begin and logics die.” Count Christian Duerckheim.

The digital print, “Ghost”  with its architectural perspective, has the immediate appearance of a black and white sketch, again showing her technique to combine a photographic study with the artistic eye of a painter.

Ghost, Nancy Nightingale

Along the corridor and back room salon, see a selection of drawings on paper by both artists as well as photographic prints and a short film.  Nancy won the Best Film Award 2018 for ‘At First Light’  in collaboration with Louis Caro (Movie Production Society at The University of Edinburgh).  There are also postcards, prints and risographs for sale.

Encounter – Selection of drawings, prints and photographs

Patriothall gallery is the ideal industrial warehouse space for Pauley’s expressive, experimental paintings, enhanced by the light flooding in through the high windows to great effect.    Walk around to view Nightingale’s paintings and prints at a distance, and then see the detail in close up, light and shade of the detailed draughtsmanship.

From geometric abstracts to architectural sketches and prints, this joint collection shares their innovative exploration of place, space and time to reflect artistic harmony with a subtle sense of serenity and stillness.

Encounter – Sophia Pauley & Nancy Nightingale

Patriothall Gallery,  Patriothall,  Hamilton Place, Edinburgh EH3 5AY

6th – 21st September, 2019

Tues-Fri, 2pm-7pm; Sat & Sun, 10am-5pm – closed Mondays

For more information:

[Photographs of the exhibition by Murray Orr and the artists.]

Patriothall gallery, the perfect industrial open space for this exhibition, Encounter

The smash hit Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I” is heading to Edinburgh

“The King and I” 1956 movie (Deborah Kerr & Yul Brynner)

For lovers of the glamorous and richly romantic show, “The King and I”, you would be mistaken to think that Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the book and lyrics, created the storyline.

In fact, it’s a true story, based on Margaret Landon’s semi-fictionalised novel, “Anna and the King of Siam”, (1944), inspired by the real life memoirs of a British school teacher. In 1862, Anna Leonowens arrived at the Royal Palace Bangkok to be the tutor to King Mongkut’s 39 wives and 82 children, her experience related in “The English Governess at the Siamese Court.”Premiered on Broadway in March 1951, “The King and I” ran for three years, winning a Tony Award for Best Musical. The latest revival of this smash hit show at the Lincoln Center Theater, New York, has recently had a sell out season in London and is now coming to the Edinburgh Playhouse, from 17th to 26th October, 2019.

Leading a company of 50 performers and a full scale orchestra are Annalene Beechey as Anna and Jose Llana as The King.

There was a sneak media preview this week, at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian in the luxurious Castle Suite, garlanded with flowers.  Annalene and Jose describe their roles and story of this lavishly staged production, which won four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical.

Jose Llana and Annalene Beechey at the media launch  – “Shall We Dance?”

This classic, heart-warming narrative, while set in the 1860s, is still so relevant to audiences today relating the story of an unlikely friendship between two headstrong personalities from very different backgrounds and cultures, where East meets West.

Annalene Beechey and Jose Llana in The King and I

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s enchanting, romantic tale is perfect for families of all ages to enjoy together. Children will be inspired to see young actors of their age, on stage singing and dancing. In fact, following a local audition, sisters Perrie and Nikita Wong, aged 8 and 6, were selected to join the ensemble of Royal Children for the run in Edinburgh.

Anna and the Royal children

Annalene recalls performing in Les Miserables at the Playhouse in 1994 (“I was very young at the time!”, she says with a laugh).  Anna is a dream role for an actress, wearing the most gorgeous dresses with one ball gown weighing three stone. This is the costume for the number, “Shall We Dance,” when Anna and the King perform a polka. Jose Llana is impressed that she can twirl across the stage in this heavy dress, dancing backwards and in heels.

Annalene Beechey as Anna and Jose Llana as the King

Theatre goers can certainly expect elaborate costumes and an opulent Palace setting, with 22,000 hand made flowers, two miles of fabric and 250 metres of gold leaf.  Eight trucks are required to transport the set from city to city on this UK tour.

Annalene Beechey

We are treated to a few of the familiar songs from the show, “Hello Young Lovers”, “Puzzlement” & “Getting to Know You, “ performed with such clarity of the lyrics and joyful charisma.

Jose Llana

The reviews say it all, from Broadway to the West End – “I doubt I’ll ever see a better production in my lifetime’ said the Wall Street Journal;  “Five stars for a sumptuous “King and I”. Book now. It’s a hit,’ was the verdict of The Times.

So, perhaps this appetising taster of the show has tempted you to book your tickets soon!

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I”

17th to 26th October, 2019 @ 7.30pm (matinees, 2.30pm).

Tickets: £19.50 – £110

The Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, Edinburgh EH1 3AA    Tel. 0844 871 3014

[“The King and I” press launch images, Photo credit, Rob McDougall 2019]


100 x 100 is the theme of this year’s exhibition in the aid of charity at Saorsa Gallery, Stockbridge, opening on 27th September and running to 13th October 2019.

This showcase of 100 bright, bold and beautiful Scottish landscapes by Tommy Fitchett will be priced at a very reasonable £100 (some artwork for a little more) – 25% of which is donated to Cancer Research.

“I am a landscape artist whose work is predominantly abstract inspired by nature, by the Scottish landscape and by the changing light of the seasons. My art is most fluid and expressive when working directly onto glass – I achieve a depth of tone and colour, a freedom of expression and wielding of light.  Tommy Fitchet

Tommy Fitchet with a selection of his unique, oil on glass, Scottish landscapes

Saorsa Art Gallery is located in the heart of Stockbridge, Edinburgh and since 2016 Tommy has presented an annual art event for charity, raising in total over £10,000.

Saorsa’s popular annual showcase of art in aid of charity

For the 2017 show, he gave himself the challenge of completing a small work every day, resulting in the gallery walls being hung with 365 paintings.

These are stunning abstract land and seascapes .. with his palette of oils, from rainbow colours to cool monochrome, an extraordinary energy and atmosphere of the outdoor air is captured.  The effect of oil on glass creates a gleaming, glossy layer with soft, shimmering shades of light to reflect marvellous images of sun and sea.”

From my exhibition review of ‘365 paintings by Tommy Fitchet’

Once again this year, you can expect to see an evocative collection of stunning, small scale, (22 x 22 cm) paintings and other larger panorama landscapes.

Purchase one (or more!) of Tommy’s mini masterpieces to brighten your home while giving a valuable donation to Cancer Research.  Be warned, this is a popular event so get there promptly to browse and buy.

Saorsa Art Gallery

100/100/2019  Fundraising Exhibition of paintings by Tommy Fitchet

8 Deanhaugh Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH4 1LY

Friday 27 September – Sunday 13 October

Thursday & Friday, 12 noon – 4pm

Saturday & Sunday, 12 noon – 5pm.

tel. 0131 343 1126 –

Tommy Fitchet at work creating unique, original abstract land and seascapes

Julie Dumbarton & Kelly-Anne Cairns @ The Torrance Gallery: vibrant, dramatic landscapes and poignant, peaceful portraits.

The Torrance Gallery, 36 Dundas Street, Edinburgh

When it first opened in 1970, The Torrance Gallery was the only contemporary art gallery on Dundas Street. Nearly 50 years on, this is the address for the crème de la crème of the city’s independent galleries.   Fiona McCrindle, the owner of the Edinburgh Drawing School, has recently taken over the baton to preserve the legacy of this New Town gallery.

Fiona McCrindle, the new owner of The Torrance Gallery

Year round, there is a regularly changing showcase of a diverse range of artists with either solo, duo or mixed exhibitions, as well as ceramics, crafts and jewellery. The current exhibition brings together land and seascapes by Julie Dumbarton with portraits and life drawings by Kelly-Anne Cairns – a contrast of genres but sharing a bold, colourful expression.

Posed and poised, Kelly-Anne captures a genuine sense of  character in her series of portraits of young women, each so natural and relaxed as if in quiet contemplation.

Maria, Kelly-Anne Cairns

With titles such as Sunday, Forget-me-not and Promise, these are like snapshots, a moment in time, with an underlying dark, dramatic mood in their perceived sadness and solitude.  What are they thinking, who are they thinking of?  Their facial expressions give little away.

Rosemary, Kelly-Anne Cairns

Yellow is a dominant colour together with a recurring motif of birds, (especially swallows) and flowers. A stunning self portrait, “To Belong,” features Kelly-Anne in a pretty bird print frock, eyes closed as of in meditation.  She paints herself with the use of a mirror, so this is a reflection, as she sees herself.

To Belong, self portrait, Kelly-Anne Cairns

Several gallery visitors on the opening day suggested that Kelly-Anne should design this as a dress material. Well, fashion is all about beautiful, wearable art!.

The domestic settings of a home are exquisitely brought to life through richly patterned fabrics, cushions and wallpaper backdrop within which we have a glimpse of an interior space, both physical and personal.

Drifting, Kelly-Anne Cairns

This most evocative image, entitled “Drifting” focuses on a girl falling asleep on a bed, her hands drooped down over a blue sheet, which is symbolically dripping down the canvas. As a voyeur of this intimate scene, we cannot help but be drawn into her private, secret dreamland.

Most impressive too is a series of black ink sketches, “All the Young Nudes,”  four exquisitely composed figures. There is a delicate touch here in the fine, flowing representation of the soft, youthful, rounded contours of the slender female body; these clearly emphasise Kelly-Anne’s masterly talent at the classic artistry of life drawing.

All the Young Nudes (series of four), Kelly-Anne Cairns

I love to recreate subtle skin tones in oil paint and manipulate the model’s pose to create an atmosphere and elusive narratives within the composition.  I am inspired by the human form, capturing the flowing lines and layers of muscles, tendons, and skin, capturing and suggesting emotions through body language.” Kelly-Anne Cairns

Julie Dumbarton lives in Langholm and the wild natural expanse of the Scottish countryside is central to her work. Her dramatic, vibrant colourful land and seascapes enhances and exaggerates the rich hues of flowers, heather hills and sunsets.

Scottish Sunset, Julie Dumbarton

A red sky at night, a shepherd’s delight – here the clouds burst with a flurry of fireworks in shades of gold, crimson and salmon pink.  Through thick brushstrokes, the tone and texture gives a multi-layered surface and depth to the perspective.

These luminous landscapes clearly bridge the gap between realistic views and bold, brash expressionism.  The swirling water in “Waves” depicts both the rising, rolling sea as well as a row of whitewashed cottages on the shoreline beneath the calm, cool golden embers of an evening sky.

Waves,  Julie Dumbarton

With painterly precision, a dark, melancholic mood pervades this seascape of “Orkney”: with this whirlwind of yellow, coral and mauve clouds, there is such hidden beauty in this wild, unspoilt beach scene.

Orkney, Julie Dumbarton

Moving over even more to the complete abstract, “Autumn Waterlilies” is a stunning, surreal composition where a scattering of white petals can just be glimpsed within a flurry of pink, blue and green. A most attractive floral design which would be ideal for fabrics and decorative designs.

Autumn Waterlilies, Julie Dumbarton

“I like to explore the same themes and images, the tension between abstraction and representation. I’m obsessed with colour, and strive to show the subtle details that we all see but often go unnoticed. As a landscape artist,  I endeavour to inspire and nurture our love of the natural world.”  Julie Dumbarton

The Torrance Gallery

Julie Dumbarton & Kelly-Anne Cairns

31st August to 15th September, 2019

36 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JN

Open: Mon-Fri, 11am-6pm; Sat, 10.30am-4pm.

Coastal Bay, Julie Dumbarton

John Busby – Silent Landscape @ Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh: a calm, contemplative study of our natural world

“My work is rooted in landscape and in the living birds and animals as they are part of it. I aim to show how creatures move and to express the visual delight they bring. I try to combine accuracy with artistry.”  John Busby

John Busby – Landscape and Wildlife artist at work in the world of nature

“Silent Landscape” is the perfect, poetic title for this fine retrospective of work by John Busby (1928 – 2015).

John was brought up in Yorkshire where he developed an interest in nature, especially birds. After studying art at Leeds University and Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 1955, time to  travel around France and Italy. He taught drawing and painting at the ECA for more than 30 years until retirement.

Nature in the raw was his perennial subject to paint, the wild open space of hills and dales, captured in all seasons, dramatic mood and shifting light. Over the years, his approach changed radically, moving to and fro, from scenic realism to experimental representation.

Around the elegant, spacious rooms at the Open Eye gallery, take a time – travel journey starting in the mid 1950s with the intricately crafted “Twelve Winded Sky.”

Twelve Winded Sky, (1956) John Busby

The palette of sombre muted tones of bare sketchy trees, bleak moorland, with just a splash of mustard yellow under a dark sky, reflects a touch of winter chill.

Moving on to 1962, “Northern Landscape” is depicted in an almost cubist pattern of oval and oblong shapes in a blend of charcoal, mushroom and truffle.

Northern Landscape, (1962) John Busby

A decade later, “Ensign for Winter” is a pure abstract Rothko-esque layered block of bold blue, with black and cream stripes.

Ensign for Winter, (1972) John Busby

Many rural scenes have a sky-high, birds-eye view across the countryside.  “Flight over Yellow Field” is a textured tapestry of geometric colours with a tiny kite blowing in the wind, while “Lothian Landscape” is a richly atmospheric panorama of green fields, sandy shore and blue sea and cloudy sky.

Lothian Landscape, (1980) John Busby

“Last night a wind from Lammermoor came roaring up the glen,

With the tramp of trooping horses and the laugh of reckless men ..”

From Walter Scott to W. H. Ogilvie, Lammermuir has inspired writers for their romantic, legendary tales.  Here is a remote glen of rolling hills painted by Busby first in 1985, a fragmented structure in a sweeping curve, to a more naturalistic composition in 2005, with its sun-tinted streak of blue sky.

Lammermuir,  (2005) John Busby

To complement this retrospective, “John Busby Remembered” features a selection of work on the theme of the natural world by fellow artists and associates at the ECA:  an expressive abstract by Barbara Rae and the iconic figurative seascapes of John Bellany.

“Whence do we come ….”, John Bellany

Like David Attenborough of the art world, animals and birds were the subject of John Busby’s lifelong passion, illustrating and writing books – he was a founding member of the Society of Wildlife Artists.

Drawing Birds (and other wildllife books), John Busby

On show in this exhibition are a few sketches and watercolours such as of owls and sparrows to illustrate his masterly study of ornithology.

The Heart of the Wood, (1953) John Busby

Take a stroll around the Open Eye to immerse yourself in these evocative, enriching landscapes: cool, calm and contemplative in their sense of place and time,  here are moments of quiet beauty and stillness.

‘Silent Landscapes’ by John Busby & ‘John Busby Remembered’

27 July to 2 September, 2019

Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm. Sat. 10am-4pm

The Open Eye Gallery,  34 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6QE

tel. 0131 557 1020

Landscape, (1967) John Busby

Nicole Farhi: Writing Heads @ The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh – unique, literary-inspired, mini masterpieces

Nicole Farhi is a multi-talented artist in every sense of the word.  From excelling as a world renowned fashion designer, and also a home stylist – furniture, kitchenware, accessories – today she is a sculptor extraordinaire.

Nicole Farhi

Born in Nice, she brought a chic French style and continental flair to the British fashion industry. The shift in career from clothes to clay was, as she says, “It’s like falling in love. You don’t know why .. your life is going to change.” In 2012 she turned away from the cat walk and now concentrates solely on sculpture. For Farhi it was a natural progression to study the human figure in a different perspective, to craft and shape a face, head and hands.

Nicole Farhi at work

This most impressive and inspiring showcase,“Writing Heads”  takes pride of place at the elegant space of the Fine Art Society this summer, as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival: Twenty-five immaculate miniature busts of internationally renowned authors – philosophers, travel writers, essayists, novelists, playwrights and poets.

“I started thinking of the books I had loved reading while growing up in France.. but then also foreign authors like Hemingway, Patricia Highsmith and Doris Lessing. At the end, I had a gallery of faces, all full of humour and authority ..  insight and intelligence.”   Nicole Farhi

These famous faces are lined up in rows on two long shelf-like tables, so that you can walk all the way around for a close up view.  The Heads are creatively constructed of ciment fondu ( a French invention – strong, quickly setting cement made from a mixture of limestone and bauxite) and acrylic.

This must be a most malleable combination of materials as Farhi has perfected an extraordinary likeness in each distinctive facial expression, skin tone, hair and clothing. They have such a tactile quality, one is tempted to touch (but of course would not!).

Let’s take a short stroll around to spot a few of these famous writers – I was so inspired that I have been dipping into a few of my favourite books to reflect on their literary life and work.

Toni Morrison, who passed away age 88 on 5th August, 2019, received The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.  Her novel, “Beloved,” based on the true story of an African American female slave won the Pulitzer, and she continued to chronicle the African American experience over five decades.

Here she is with her mane of steel grey, spiral curled, Afro hair and a proud sense of race and womanhood in her calm, composed expression.

Toni Morrison

A quote from her novel, “Beloved”

Ernest Hemingway, with thick white beard and craggy lined face, is wrapped up in a thick seafaring sweater as if he just stepped off his fishing boat,  reminiscent of his famous character, the Old Man.

Ernest Hemingway

“The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles I the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks” “The Old Man and the Sea” – Ernest Hemingway

Edinburgh’s own Muriel Spark is captured as a pretty young woman,  copper hair, red jacket, red lipstick. She escaped her short marriage to Sidney Spark, (his name was the only part of him she liked and kept),  to seek the freedom to write.  There would be 22 novels in total, with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, regarded as her milch cow. She was Scottish through topography and geography but European in cultural, social and political spirit.

Muriel Spark

“Hold up your books” said Miss Brodie. “If there are any intruders, we are doing our history lesson, …our poetry, … English grammar. Meantime I will tell you about my last summer holiday .. about the Frenchman I met in the train to Biarritz, .. and about the Italian paintings I saw.” “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” – Muriel Spark.

Another avid traveller is Graham Greene, hair slicked back, a quizzical look about his piercing, perceptive eyes. His stories located in hot and dusty tropical places such as Mexico, West Africa, Vietnam, Cuba, Haiti, and Argentina, led to the expression “Greeneland.”

Graham Greene

“I became aware that our love was doomed; love had turned into a love affair with a beginning and an end. I could name the very moment when it had begun, and one day I knew I should be able to name the final hour”  “The End of the Affair” – Graham Greene

One of the most innovative, modernist and feminist writers, Virginia Woolf is portrayed by Farhi with a subtle sense of quiet beauty – her angular face, severe hairstyle and gentle eyes, in thoughtful, distant mood.

Virginia Woolf

With her passion for vocabulary and language, she created her own style of lyrical poetry- prose narrative as a way to enter imagination of her characters.

“She enjoyed life immensely. It was her nature to enjoy. She enjoyed practically everything. …in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.  ”Mrs Dalloway, -Virginia Woolf

With her fashionably androgynous look of ther period, short wavy hair and masculine-styled shirt collar, the bust of Daphne du Maurier expresses her tomboyish denial of femininity.

Daphne du Maurier

The seed of the Rebecca story lay in her jealousy of her husband’s first fiancée:

“ If there was some woman in London that Maxim visited, dined with, slept with, I could fight her.. One day the woman would grow old and Maxim would not love her anymore. But Rebecca would never grow old.  She was too strong for me.”  “ Rebecca” – Daphne du Maurier

In 1954, aged 18, Francoise Sagan became an overnight sensation on the publication of “Bonjour Tristesse, ” an amoral tale of a schoolgirl’s summer romance which scandalised French society.  The sculpture here shows her shock of blond hair, with a half smile, seductively playing around her mouth.

Francoise Sagan

Always a rebel, her wild Bohemian lifestyle was mirrored in her depiction of fictional love affairs and loss.

“I do not know if the desire to attract others comes from a superabundance of vitality, possessiveness, or the hidden, unspoken need to be reassured.” “Bonjour Tristesse” – Francoise Sagan

W. H. Auden is remembered for his wisdom and wit – his first book, Poems was published in 1930, with the help of T. S. Eliot.  With a deeply lined face and furrowed brow, the sculptured image here recalls photographs of the man at work, cigarette in hand. Close friend and creative collaborator, Benjamin Britten described his startling personality and remarkably fine brain.

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”

Funeral Blues – W. H. Auden

W H Auden

This is just a glimpse of the twenty five Writing Heads on show – all the ciment fondu sculptures are for sale (Edition of 7 with 3 APs each, and hand painted Bronze editions are available to be cast on request.

In the downstairs gallery is an enchanting selection of serene and soulful Portraits, entitled Intimate, by a wide range of artists from mid 19th century to the present day.

Do visit the Fine Art Society soon to see this remarkable, richly rewarding exhibition, an absolute highlight of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

Nicole Farhi: Writing Heads

25 July to 31 August, 2019

The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh,

6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

Tel. 0131 557 4050

Jennifer McRae – “Past, Present, future – tracing the female line”

Photo credits:

Nicole Farhi – Louise Long

Individual  images of “Talking Heads” – Iona Wolff