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“The Nutcracker” by Scottish Ballet is a glittering, glamorous Festive treat for all the family

“The first fall of snow is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another, quite different. If this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”  J. B. Priestley

Such an enchanting winter landscape  is currently being beautifully created at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh for a classic sugar-coated fantasy, as part of a tour around Scotland and Northern England.

“The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” by E.T.A. Hoffman was adapted by Alexander Dumas into a much less terrifying storyline, and in 1892 Marius Petipa choreographed this fairy tale with Tchaikovsky composing the melodious music.  This Christmas,  The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal and Scottish Ballet are all staging their own productions.

Peter Darrell

The premiere of Scottish Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” choreographed by Peter Darrell (its founder),  took place on 19th December 1973 at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Following the Petipa classic scenario and Tchaikovsky score, the narrative focussed on the Christmas festivities as seen through the eyes, heart and mind of a child; moving away from convention, Darrell cast a talented troupe of young pupils as Clara and the children, tiny mice and toy soldiers, selected from several dance schools.

Robert Hampton and Valerie Forsyth in Darrell’s original production

The design was created with sumptuous theatricality by Philip Prowse while Darrell was viewed as the pioneer of dramatic narrative ballets.  The production was later filmed for television starring Elaine McDonald and Davide Bombana as the Nutcracker Prince and Sugar Plum Fairy

Elaine McDonald and Davide Bombana – BBC production

Back on stage this Festive season is a welcome return of Christopher Hampson’s ravishing revival of Darrell’s ballet, (first staged in December  2014),  the set and costumes all re-imagined by Lez Brotherston with lavish style and fairytale sparkle.

The period is the 1870s. At Christmas Eve at Colonel Stahlbaum’s home a grand party is being held at their ornate Townhouse, first seen from outside their front door  as guests, wrapped up in glamorous furs and velvet coats, parade along the street; a little boy jumps up to peak inside – through the window we too can catch a glimpse of homely warmth and fairy lights. Snow is falling.  A tall gentleman swirls his blue silk-lined cloak around the child, as a tall handsome young man suddenly appears in his place. The magic has begun.

The Christmas Eve party

Inside, the drawing room centres on a giant glittering Tree surrounded by piles of colourful presents. The scene is like a child’s picture book opening up with the illustrations coming alive. The Stahlbaum children – Clara and her brother Fritz – playing excitedly with their friends, the girls wearing frilled taffeta party frocks, the boys in neat suits and sailor costumes.

The party is merry with wine, music and graceful dancing by the gathering of elegantly dressed couples; the arrival of Uncle Drosselmeyer adds more sparkle as he entertains the children (and us!), with brilliant magic tricks.   Clara is given a red Nutcracker Doll which she adores, skipping around the room with glee, while Fritz and the boys get up to mischief, banging drums and grabbing all the lollypops. Later, the guests bid farewell and the children taken off to bed.  At the bewitching hour, Clara, now in her nightgown, quietly sneaks downstairs to find her Nutcracker and falls asleep clutching her special new toy.

Clara’s dream is dramatised on stage as she “awakes” to see that her Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince and together they help the toy soldiers fight off the nasty King Rat.  A troupe of timid little mice are brilliantly played by the children wearing a cute costumes with big eyes, pink ears and long twitching tails; they scamper about with giant chunks of cheese, apple cores, gold and purple Quality Street sweets.

The Land of Ice and Snow

We then follow Clara and the Prince on a journey to the Land of Ice and Snow where a dome of arches depicts a cool cathedral of glistening frost with its splendid tree; this is the world of the Snow Queen and her attendants – a flighty, flurry of Snowflakes, who slide and glide like skaters around the Prince and his Queen, a duo of dreamlike dancers on ice.

“ Snow is falling all around me, children playing, having fun, it’s the season of love and  understanding, Merry Christmas everyone; Time for parties and celebrations, people dancing all night long ..”

Christopher Harrison and Constance Devernay (Nutcracker Prince and Snow Queen)

Like a snow globe come to life this is a white winter wonderland where the synchronicity of the choreography blends seamlessly to every flowing note of music. Clara watches in awe at the sparkling fairies.

Act 2 opens to a glittering backdrop of 5,500 decorative baubles hanging from 250 strings to welcome Clara and the Prince to the brightly coloured Land of Sweets.

The Land of Sweets

This is the Realm of the Sugar Plum Fairy, where her guests are treated to a cornucopia of National dances from China, England, Spain, Arabia, Russia and France, performed with exuberance, energy and humour, to present a sweet celebration of chocolates and candy canes.

The highlight is, of course, the famous Grand Pas de Deux for the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. At the time of composition, Petipa asked Tchaikovsky for ‘an adagio intended to produce a colossal impression’  – a few chords of introduction before a gentle, soulful cello melody.  Christopher Harrison and Sophie Martin create a perfect partnership from graceful pirouettes to breathtaking lifts, an intimate partnership of poise, precision and pure romance.

Christopher Harrison and Sophie Martin (Nutcracker Prince and Sugar Plum Fairy)

As well as the masterly performances by the Principals – Constance Devernay, Sophie Martin and Christopher Harrison in the lead roles – Lily Wearmouth as Clara is a delightful, dainty dancer and Jack Burns, a cheeky wee Fritz. The children, members of Scottish Ballet’s Associates, almost steal the show – at the party they act so naturally with great sense of characterisation, while the fabulous little mice and soldiers are charmingly portrayed.

Clara’s dreamland

Coming full circle, it is fascinating to know that in 1993 Christopher Harrison (aged 12), played one of the children in Darrell’s “The Nutcracker.”  A total team of 35 children from S B’s Associates and Danscentre, Aberdeen will be performing on the UK tour over the next few weeks – many of whom may well be inspired to develop their balletic careers to become Artists and Soloists in years to come.

With richly vivid costumes, and vivacious choreography, “The Nutcracker” is a joyous Christmas treat – like a fizzing flute of Moet for adults and a large selection box for the young ones – capturing the vision, magic and wonder of childhood at Christmas time.  A spectacular,  sophisticated show not to be missed and coming to a theatre near you on the Scottish Ballet tour in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle.

Tour dates …..

Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker on tour 2017/18
Sat 10 – Sat 30 Dec 2017 Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
Thurs 4 – Sat 13 Jan 2018 Glasgow
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7647 Book online
Wed 17 – Sat 20 Jan 2018 Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122 Book online
Wed 24 – Sat 27 Jan2018 Inverness
Eden Court
01463 234 234 Book online
Wed 31 Jan – Sat 3 Feb 2018 Newcastle
Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21 Book online

Photo credit for production images from The Nutcracker (2017-2018) – Andy Ross.

Photogaphs from the original production – Alan Crumlish


Common Ground – the quiet, contemplative, spiritual Art of Alan Lennon and Michael Cook @ Lennon-Art Gallery, Edinburgh

Lennon-Art is a bright and colourful gallery in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, founded earlier this year by the artist Alan Lennon, to showcase his own multi-media work, alongside contemporary figurative paintings by selected artists.

A new exhibition Common Ground (17 November to 3 December, 2017) is a collaboration between Alan Lennon and Michael Cook who share a strong artistic bond through similar ideas and themes, specialising in symbolic figures set in imaginative environments.

The narrative behind Common Ground focuses on spirituality, religious faith and the wider aspect of the human condition,  the characteristics and essence of existence – birth, growth, emotion, aspiration, conflict and mortality.

Adrift, Alan Lennon

On the opening night, Richard Holloway, the writer, broadcaster and former Bishop of Edinburgh gave a most profound speech on the topic of philosophical belief.   Unlike the animal world, it is only the human race with the intellect to question the meaning of life, the reason for so much suffering and sorrow.

It is has long been the role of artists, musicians and writers to express their own views on this elusive subject. Gerard Manley Hopkins used poetry to describe his religious faith using symbolic images of birds, trees and natural world.

Those who Endure in Peace, Michael Cook

He advises gallery visitors to view the art with a fresh eye, without having to rely on the given title – let the images, mood, sensibility relate to you personally what the artist is trying to communicate.

Fish out of Water, Alan Lennon

Alan Lennon’s paintings explore the human form with a recurring theme of isolated figures, often surrounded by the open sea, with facial expressions which depict deep contemplation and thought.   In works such as “Adrift” and “Fish out of Water”, there is an unsettling sense of loneliness, despair and vulnerability.  But, of course, you can find your own hidden meaning in these soulful compositions.

A more humorous, quirky portrait is of a red haired girl, sitting (perhaps) on a seashore rock, where, in her arms she cuddles a cute, fat cat.

The title is “Hear What I am Not Saying” whether this refers to a silent prayer to God, or trying to converse with her cat. Enigmatic yes, but such a poignant image.

Hear What I am not Saying, Alan Lennon

  “My quiet figures occupy barren landscapes, still monuments that focus on unspoken communication, the subtlety and complexity of a moment, the simple gesture loaded with meaning. ”

Alan is also a most accomplished sculptor working with both clay and stone to create meticulously carved Heads and Busts. Reminiscent of Rodin’s “The Thinker,” one stunning piece, “Regret” is of a man covering his mouth with his hand, as if he cannot dare to speak, in a state of mental torment.

Regret, Alan Lennon

Michael Cook lives and works in Melbourne, Derbyshire, inspired since childhood by the countryside of fields and orchards, flora and fauna.  Following the Romantic and Visionary tradition, his artwork represents feelings of joy and loss, as well as capturing the power of religious devotion.

‘My pictures recall the days I spent wandering alone through the Derbyshire countryside, where I discovered both the beauty and the pain of Nature.  I deliberately employ Nature as a metaphor for emotions and I use human figures to express mystery and spiritual longing.’

Hand Like a Nest, Michael Cook

In a striking portrait, “Hand Like a Nest,” the curved bowl-like hand of Saint Kevin gives sanctuary for three tiny blackbird’s eggs; his head is portrayed in sharp, chiselled Cubist style, the eyes shut in peaceful repose with a kindly expression. Behind, soft light shines through the window comparing the interior confinement of the room and the distant outdoor world.

Like charming children’s book illustrations, Cook also specialises in animals such as carefree hares racing across a flourishing green meadow, against a backdrop of trees, sun and moon.

Leaping the Thorns, Michael Cook

Mystic Hare, Michael Cook

This well curated exhibition clearly shows how Lennon and Cook’s work complement each other so beautifully.  Around the gallery their joint theme  an underlying sense of kindness and compassion, an aura of silence,  private visions of anguish and indecision, trying to find the right path on the journey through life.

“Where lies your landmark, seamark, or soul’s star?” ― Gerard Manley Hopkins

At this time of year, as we head towards Christmas and the birth of the New Year,  these gentle, solitary figures amidst calm, dreamlike, landscapes illustrate the meaning and importance of peace and goodwill to all mankind.

Thought-provoking narrative art with real emotional heart.

Lennon-Art Gallery, 83 Henderson Row, Edinburgh EH3 5BE

17 November to 3 December, 2017 –  Mon-Sat, 11am – 6pm.  Sun 1 – 4pm.

Original art, paintings, sculpture, photo-montage prints and cards.

Alan Lennon

Michael Cook

“Serene Expressions” – a painterly tour around Edinburgh by Jamie Primrose at Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

Autunn Shadows in the Meadows.

At the Dundas Street Gallery this week, take a painterly, virtual reality tour around Edinburgh to view the classic architecture of the Old and New Towns, climb Arthur’s Seat, stroll through the tree-lined Meadows and down to the waterfront at Leith.

Since 2003, I have followed Jamie Primrose’s own artistic journey, from Scotland to South America and the Mediterranean,  as he has perfected a bold style and precise palette to create his own dramatic, moody, impressionistic landscapes: during the summer, he showcased a masterly exhibition of shimmering seascapes along the French and Italian Rivieras.

This fine new collection of work reflects the natural beauty and architectural heritage of Edinburgh as seen through the seasons. The Meadows are captured from flowering pink blossom in Spring to the bare, skeletal avenue of trees in winter, but whatever the time of year, the scenes are enriched with realistic shafts of light and shadow.

It is quite extraordinary how he can return again and again to the same or similar city views where, through different times of day and the year, he observes the scene with a distinctively fresh perspective. This reveals the personal passion for his home, the city of Edinburgh.

Expressions from Calton Hill

“The view of Edinburgh from the road before you enter Leith is quite enchanting: it is, as Albert said, fairy-like and what you would only imagine as a thing to dream of, or to see in a picture.”  Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria made her first visit to Scotland in 1842, just five years after becoming Queen. She noted this description in her journal at the time, marvelling at the beautiful views of the Castle, Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat.

175 years later Jamie Primrose is equally inspired by the same enchanting cityscapes with its timeless, majestic sense of place.  In the introduction he says he is “fascinated by the ephemeral nature of light” and here you can experience the shifting times of day from dawn to dusk.   Taking prominence on one wall is “ Spring Sunset from Arthur’s Seat, ”  a marvellous panorama of the grassy hilltop and craggy rocks beneath a sultry, serene sky.

Spring sunset from Arthur’s Seat

Very much his recurring forte are these fiery sunsets – wild streaks of coral-pink and grey tinted cloudy skies with a rosy glow bursting on the horizon.  Arthur’s Seat is a favourite stomping ground for Primrose  – here too are tranquil scenes of Duddingston Loch as well as “Late Afternoon glow over Dunsapie Loch,”  looking across the distant bay towards East Lothian.

Late Afternoon Glow over Dunsappie Loch

“Winter sunset reflections on St. Margaret’s Loch,” is also a calm composition where the water dapples under soft, fading light and a streak of feathery clouds.  So atmospheric, you can almost feel the chill wind in the air.

Winter Sunset Reflections on St. Margaret’s Loch

Back in the city centre, enjoy a walk up and down Victoria Street between George IV Bridge and the Grassmarket: colourful, curving and cobbled, the street is a tourist attraction for antiques, books, cheese, whisky, tailored tweed clothing, the Bow Bar and restaurants.

Twilight skies over Victoria Street

Primrose shows Victoria Street in the quiet darkness of night to depict the quirky row of shops under a sweeping mauve sky. Around the Old Town, there are fine architectural studies around the Royal Mile, the iconic skyline of elegant church spires and the Castle towering high on the Rock.

A fairy-like city indeed – Queen Victoria would surely be impressed!.

Private Commissions are also welcome – perhaps a favourite landscape or your own street.  Limited Edition Prints (destinations from Scotland to Venice), and Black Indian Ink Drawings are available too  – the  ideal Christmas present for family, friends or your home.

Serene Expressions – Friday 3rd to Saturday 11th November, 2017. 

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

Monday to Friday  11am – 6pm.   Saturday & Sunday  11am – 5pm

Spring Shadows towards Bruntsfield





Joy Arden, “Time and Place” – a surreal, abstract journey around our natural world: &Gallery, Edinburgh

Glimpse, blue grey, Joy Arden

My paintings currently refer to the tension between the natural and urban landscape.  I am interested in a sense of presence and atmosphere through the materials, the form and colour.  It is the sense of place, the passage of time as well as the traces left by human activity in the environment which forms a focus for the work.  Joy Arden

&Gallery is a tranquil place for art lovers, showcasing fine art, drawing, painting and printmaking, complemented by ceramics, sculpture, glass and jewellery across the spectrum of contemporary visual and applied arts.  The two spacious rooms down a few steps at 17 Dundas Street show distinctive, well curated monthly exhibitions.

From 7th October to 1st November,  2017, Joy Arden is presenting a stunning series of dramatic oil paintings and monotypes, entitled “Time and Place”.

The Fallen, Joy Arden

Having moved to Edinburgh in 2003 from Ireland (her home for 20 years after graduation), Joy is based at the Coburg Art Studios, Leith. She is a specialist in printmaking, especially stone lithography.

Having studied at a summer school at Edinburgh College of Art, she took an Advanced Painting course at Leith School of Art, where she was awarded the Elisa Clifford Prize, 2008 and then presented with the Anne Redpath Award – Visual Arts Scotland Exhibition 2011.

Walk around &Gallery to be absorbed by an extraordinary portfolio of land and seascapes .. although such a defined term is not strictly correct as there are no particular locations – countryside, beaches, buildings, cities –  named in any title.  These are cool, creatively composed landscapes of the mind, the astute observation of a place as perceived by way of space, shade, tone and texture.

Flow, Joe Arden

A captivating work is “Flow” with its bold, brash brushstrokes in thick oil, creating horizontal stripes in soft greys, cream, a touch of moss green and heathery plum. Each person, says Joy, will see what they feel and see in the painting, whether thick rain clouds, surfing waves, hills or a winter snowy landscape.

This is also true of “ The Edge”, a stunning composition with carefully placed geometric shapes in rich blues, pastel pinky peach and grass green, surrounding the dominant grey central block.  It does not matter where the actual place (if any) is depicted here, the artist has created a dialogue with the viewer. It encourages you to linger longer in front of each atmospheric painting .

The Edge, Joy Arden

Aberlady Nature Reserve, East Lothian is a favourite place for Joy to wander with her sketch book, with its pretty woodland, sand dunes, a habitat for birds, but also lurking in the undergrowth are historic defence relics from World War II – linking the beauty of nature with the memory of man’s inhumanity to man.

Traces, Joy Arden

With the title “Time and Place” the subject matter is also a reflection of scenes through a time travelling journey, a place of the imagination like an artistic archaeologist.

She has been inspired by the Prestongrange open air industrial heritage park in East Lothian to represent in fragmented manner, the distillation of its heritage.

“ … traces of human activity evident in the remains of buildings and rusting machinery. Scattered fragments from its mining and pottery industries ….merge with the landscape”.

In all these paintings and prints, the environment is interpreted not in a realistic manner but through layers of softly muted, translucent and opaque colours to capture the essence of earth, water, light.

A monotype, entitled “Black /Sienna” is a surreal, dramatic blend of dark shadows against a shimmering glow and a bright streak of gold like sun-burnt terrain.

Black/Sienna, Joy Arden

Take a visit to &Gallery soon to experience the magic, mystery and mastery of these abstract representations of land, sea, history and heritage across our natural and man made world.

Joy Arden – “Time and Place”

7 October to 1st November, 2017: Tues – Fri, 10am-5pm. Sat. 10am – 4pm.

&Gallery, 17 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6DQ

Blue Green, Joy Arden


Douglas Davies, RSW: Land and Seascapes through “Autumn – Winter – Spring” at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

For Scottish artist, Douglas Davies,  RSW,  January 2017 began with an inspirational start when he won the Glasgow Art Club Award at the 136th annual exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.  The award winning painting of ‘Whinny Brae’  is a favourite place near his home in the Scottish Borders.

Douglas Davies with his painting, Whinny Brae

“Whinny Brae is part of our daily walk, the old drove road, in all seasons and in all weathers when trees have been felled, fields ploughed.  It is constantly changing and the subject matter of many paintings over the years, very much my kind of Border landscape.”

Davies studied Ceramics and Glass design at Edinburgh College of Art, gaining Postgraduate and Travelling Scholarships.  He lectured in ceramics at Glasgow School of Art from 1973 until becoming a full time artist and potter in 1986, soon after being elected a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.

This exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, “Autumn – Winter – Spring” is a selection of landscapes (acrylic on paper and canvas) of the Scottish Borders, the Breton coast and South West France as well as delightful botanical paintings.

Take a time-travel trip through the seasons as you tour the tranquil open countryside, curving rivers and heather-draped hills around Biggar, Tweed Valley and Peebleshire.

A painting called simply “Winter” is an exquisite abstract scene blending tones of pure white, cream and buttermilk.  It makes you feel as if you are standing outdoors in the crisp snow, chilled to the bone, which illustrates how authentic the bleak landscape is represented.   “Melting Snows” is also a magical atmospheric view with glimpses of grass, trees, rock and the warm glint of coral sun amidst ice-covered hills.

Melting Snows

“Rain Clouds” shows a distant grey streak on the horizon within a mass of billowing white over misty, low lying hills.

Rain Clouds

The colourful palette used for “Tweed Valley” is brilliantly evocative of the rich naturalistic shades of chestnut, bracken, blues and gold as a bold impression of this unspoilt rural landscape.

Tweed Valley

Davies captures a realistic sense of place through the year and by day and night, as observed in bright sunshine, dusk, nightfall and pale moonlight.  Each painting is composed with differing tone and texture to reflect light and shade: “Drove Road” for instance, is created with thick brush strokes to create a patchwork of green and  yellow fields with a sweeping expanse of sky.

With a more delicate, sketchy touch, “Grasses” is best viewed seen from across the gallery to see the true perspective with its pink tinted clouds  and what appears to be windblown machair on a sandy beach.


The classic Still Life study of fruit, vegetables or flowers has always been a popular genre for both artist and art lover.  Here are beautiful arrangements of tulips and anemones offering a freshly cut, blossoming bouquet for the walls of your home year round.


From Scotland travel over to the French coastline in a series of seascapes, “Breton Harbour” and the charming fishing port of Collioure, South West France.  Matisse and Derain arrived here in 1905 where their work in the Mediterranean light was the birthplace of Fauvism.  Nearly 20 years later Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret visited this region of Roussilon on holiday, but also loved it so much they decided to settle here,

in this lovely rose-coloured land… with its warmth and its sun.

And an interesting postscript. In 2007 Davies was given a prestigious placement at the first Charles Rennie Mackintosh Residency at Collioure, a month’s retreat to experiment and explore new creative directions.   For a further eight years,  two well established Scottish artists were invited to Collioure, but in 2015 the accommodation was unavailable and, due in part to lack of support from Creative Scotland, the French officials unfortunately, had to close the Residency programme.   Let’s hope funding will be forthcoming in future to continue the CRM artist in residence scheme.

Fortunately for Douglas Davies, he was given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Derain, Matisse and Mackintosh et al to work in this perfect painters’ paradise which continues to inspire him to this day –  as well as his homeland, the Scottish Borders.

Douglas Davies, RSW – Exhibition, “Autumn – Winter – Spring”

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

Saturday 16 September to Saturday 30 September. Daily 10.30am to 5pm (closed Sunday)

Breton Harbour

Tommy Fitchet @ Saorsa Gallery: 365 landscape paintings on a small scale = a stunning show of mini masterpieces

 “ I have found that my art is most fluid and expressive when working directly onto glass. When the sun suddenly comes out and shines brightly upon the sea or the land just for that brief moment –  that is what I am trying to capture in my paintings.”   Tommy Fitchet

Tommy Fitchet is a self taught artist whose most original and creative artwork showcases distinctive, abstract modern ‘stained glass’ paintings, inspired by the Scottish landscape from the city to the seashore as observed through the seasons.

Sunset over Arran, Tommy Fitchet

Following the success of his previous exhibition, 100/100, which raised over £5,500 for Cancer Research, he decided to challenge himself to paint a small scale landscape each day for a year, starting in September 2016.

The result is this new show, 365, at Saorsa Gallery, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, where all the walls are hung, virtually floor to ceiling, with a collection of 365 wonderful wee paintings: each measures 22 x 22 cms in smart wooden frames. Again, all these paintings are sold in aid of charity.

The theme embraces Tommy’s journeys around Scotland, in particular the wild natural beauty of sandy beaches, peaceful farmland and high mountain peaks of the Isle of Arran.

The effect of oil on glass creates a gleaming, glossy layer with a rich, deep sense of colour and soft, shimmering shades of light to reflect marvellous images of sun and sea.  These are stunning abstract land and seascapes through a swirl of bright blues, purple haze, sunset orange, grass green fields and forest of trees.

Fitchet brilliantly represents a real sense of place with thick brushstrokes and curving lines, the illusion of wide skies wild waves and undulating shoreline within a precisely patterned patchwork.

Here and there around the gallery are a few more naturalistic scenes where you can clearly see a line of rolling mauve-tinted heather hills, craggy coastline and pink streak of clouds.

Some of the most dramatic paintings are those created in stylised geometric blocks of black, grey and white with splashes of gold.

With a dark, intense mood, you can almost depict the icy chill of white snow and dark black rock in stormy winter weather in these impressionistic compositions.

With his palette of oils, from rainbow colours to crisp cool monochrome, the viewer will feel an extraordinary energy and atmosphere of the outdoor air, so well captured in these mini masterpieces.

For the buyer, what is most enticing is the fact that Tommy Fitchet does not create prints of his work so each and every painting is a unique and original work of art.

The paintings on show at this exhibition are available to purchase at a most reasonable £100 each. Most importantly, 50% of the sale price will be donated  to two charities, Cancer Research and CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland).

365 – this exhibition runs from 7 – 24th September, 2017.  Thursday to Sunday, 12 noon – 5pm.

SAORSA, 8 Deanhaugh Street, Edinburgh EH4 1LY.  Tel. 0131 343 1126


Paperworks 4 – Marion Barron, Trevor Davies and Ruth Thomas – the beauty of nature with painterly precision

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015, I was delighted to see an exhibition by the Working Lines Collective entitled Paperwork 2 at the Ski Club, Howe Street.  As I wrote in my 5 star review on Edinburgh Guide:

“This is an enchanting selection of dream-like landscapes, figurative work, still life studies and colourful abstracts. It’s like taking a journey through time and place. 

Paperwork 2 is an evocative, inspirational collection of diverse yet complementary work, the nuances of shade, line, pattern and composition all pleasing to the eye, as you wander from room to room”.

This year for ten days in August, the Working Lines Collective was back with Paperwork 4, featuring Trevor Davies, Marion Barron and Ruth Thomas, who met and studied at Edinburgh College of Art.

While their Festival Fringe 2017 exhibition is now over, this is an illustrated feature to promote their creatively-crafted Paperworks.

Inspired by contemporary urban landscape, Marin Barron studies the concept of the structure and fabric of buildings:  “My recent research has focussed on the aesthetic of post war Brutalist buildings.  I explore pattern, form, colour, line and space, the environmental and social aspects, although the visual aspects are of greater interest to me”.

Marion paints in oil on linen, canvas or paper, slowly developing the surface for a strong depth in colour, tone and texture, such as here in “Fold”.

Fold, Marion Barron

These vibrant colours are most effective, drawing the eye in to study the graceful geometric line and shape. With its backdrop in soft cream and grey, the simple yet bold columns of crimson and coral in “Structure” is also a striking, architecturally-defined image.

Structure, Marion Barron

Trevor Davies is a master of delicate still life drawings, impressionistic landscapes as well as fine figurative sketches.  Heading in a more abstract direction is a series of minimalist landscapes such as Duddingston Loch(1).  This comprises a strip of newspaper column, the Lonely Hearts page with tiny requests starting with four letters, WLTM: a whimsical, richly textured work.

Duddingston Loch 1, Trevor Davies

Twenty-Two is also an amazing combination of watercolour, muslin, oil, graphite and newspaper on paper.  In similar mode to the artist Philip Reeves, these collages involve a process of distilling the theme down to the materials, then re-building the image as a layered construct.

In his quietly composed Still Lifes, meticulous representations of cool circles and curved bowls conjure up the pure contours in the natural world: ‘The endless line of a circle, its internal space both enclosure and entrance,  and what might be joints or doorways within a landscape all find their way into my pictures’

Galileo’s Moons, Trevor Davies

Ruth Thomas is an Australian artist who, having studied in Edinburgh, is fascinated by the coastlines of Scotland and New South Wales, “Nature’s calligraphy: the myriad of lines on windswept beaches, the richly coloured rock faces, the delicate structures of shells and seaweed.”

Oyster Bed, Ruth Thomas, (drawing)

Her work covers painting, printmaking and drawings in which the decorative detail shows her passion for geology as much as art, capturing how the waves of the tide smooth the pebbles on the shore.

Reworked, Ruth Thomas

Ruth also enjoys the ancient Art of Mokuhanga, Japanese Woodblock Printing to create concertina fold-out books of miniature paintings.  She also makes eco-printed paper from fragrant Eucalyptus, Banksia and Grevillea leaves.

These three distinctive artists offer a diverse selection of prints, drawings, sketches and paintings yet complement each other, – sharing a broad theme of the environment with an individual artistic approach.  At previous Festival exhibitions, comments in the visitors’ book are most enthusiastic: ‘such varied and beautiful work’ & ‘I loved the delicacy and the thoughtfulness.’

Once again, Paperworks 4 was a most inspiring and evocative collection to express the beauty of nature with fine crafted imagery and painterly precision.

Make a date in the diary for Paperworks 5  – hopefully it will return for the Festival 2018!

For more information:


Land and Sea: Paintings and Poems by Anne Butler & Sue Mayfield, Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

This enchanting exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery is a marvellous collaboration between the artist Anne Butler and the writer Sue Mayfield, to capture the scenic beauty of our natural world.

“Tread softly on the shore,  step lightly at the margins,

where the sky is thin and land meets sea,

and heaven touches earth”.  

from Tread Softly on the Shore, Sue Mayfield

Anne Butler studied at Leith School of Art, Edinburgh and now lives and works in Dumfries and Galloway.  She describes her work as a free and loose style responding to the Scottish landscape, weather and seasons. “Colour is very important to me. I think colour can change moods.  I paint in acrylic, building up layers and scraping back to reveal the colours beneath”.

Sue Mayfield  is a writer of many talents, publishing award winning fiction and non fiction for children and adults.   Her most recent books are Under the Sea (2012) and Hill of the Angels (2016). Around the gallery is a series of lyrical  poetry to reflect the dramatic mood of Anne’s paintings.

Walk with Me across the Fields, Anne Butler

Colour is clearly the dominant aspect of Anne’s vibrant green and blue land and seascapes.  Country fields are created like a patchwork quilt with bold abstract cubist style blocks, representing yellow summer corn, verdant green grasses and russet red leaves of Autumn.

“Full Moon over Blue” is a marvellous scene, reminiscent of Joan Eardley’s “Catterline in Winter” – pale moon, snow and clifftop cottages.

What the viewer will appreciate so much is how these dreamlike illustrations of land and sea are evoked with such emotion through the power of the written word.

Most impressive are the wild energetic waves and splashing spray of the sea in “Taste the Salt Drench,” as described beautifully in Sue’s poem, “A Thousand Thousand Tears.”

Taste the Salt Drench, Anne Butler

To cross the ocean,  face the deep….

Taste the salt drench of a thousand thousand tears.

from A Thousand Thousand Tears, Sue Mayfield

There is a recurring theme of time,  memories, ghosts of the past, reflected in an underlying narrative about fishermen, ships which pass in the night, the flow of the seasons, Spring flowers to migrating geese.

Out of the Blue, Anne Butler

While Anne paints the grey expanse of skies, stormy seas, boats and birds, Sue captures each vivid view in verse:

Out of the blue … a man emerges bearing fish,

a wish, a skylark sings, a heron uncrumples sailcloth wings.

from Out of the Blue, Sue Mayfield

There is such poignancy in her perfectly crafted phrases, richly reminiscent of the short, sharp poetic style of Sylvia Plath observing rural life, tulips and honey bees in her Devon garden.

These paintings and poetry create an artistic and literary dialogue, where images of moorland, meadows, sandy beach and ocean waves are echoed both in colour on the canvas and words on the page.

The Dundas Street Gallery,

6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh

2 – 7 September 2017 – daily, 10am – 6pm.

for more information:  

In the Dreaming, Anne Butler







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

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

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

Walker Slater, Victoria Street, Grassmarket, Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

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

Peacock Alley, Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh

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

Autumn Winter 2017 Tweed clothing collection for men and women

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

Smart, casual Winter wear

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

Smart, contemporary tweed suits

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

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

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

Tweed bag – from city to country sports

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

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

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

Book tickets at Eventbrite at:

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

For more information:

Oysters and champagne at Galvin Brasserie de Luxe




Celebrate “National Afternoon Tea Week” at Cucina, G&V Hotel, Edinburgh

It’s the time for cucumber sandwiches and chocolate tarts galore between 14 to 20 August, National Afternoon Tea Week, so time to celebrate and indulge in this traditional social ritual.

The British custom of Afternoon Tea was invented by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford around the 1840s.  With a long wait until dinner, every day around 4pm,  she felt ” that sinking feeling” and requested a pot a tea and light snack during the afternoon. She then began inviting a few friends to join her sociable soiree. This innovative idea soon spread, with ladies hosting afternoon tea parties where guests enjoyed a perfectly poured cup of tea, slices of cake and lively gossip and conversation.

As popular today as ever, traditional Afternoon Tea continues at many luxury hotels around the UK: In Edinburgh, it is served in elegant style at The Sheraton, The Balmoral and in the Peacock Alley @ Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh.

Warmly recommended is the colourfully-designed Cucina at the G&V Hotel, George IV Bridge,  to sample a mini feast of tiny savoury sandwiches, scones, clotted cream & jam and patisserie, served with speciality leaf teas. And do indulge yourself with an ice-chilled, beautifully crafted Cocktail or a delicious sparkling Prosecco.

What a delightful, leisurely way to spend the afternoon, far from the madding crowd and cultural buzz of the Festivals this August.  On sunny days, there’s an outdoor terrace outside Cucina, for a special summertime treat.

And, of course, you can always book a table here anytime .. . not just through this National Afternoon Tea Week!

Cucina @ G&V Hotel, 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1AD

T: +44 (0)131 240 1666