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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

http://www.saorsa-art.com

 

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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
(painting)

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:

https://www.facebook.com/artistmarion/

http://trevor-davies.net/

http://ruththomasart.co.uk/about/

 

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:

www.annebutlerart.com

http://www.suemayfield.co.uk  

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: http://bit.ly/2g4WiqA

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

For more information:

www.waldorfastoriaedinburgh.com

http://www.walkerslater.com

Oysters and champagne at Galvin Brasserie de Luxe

 

 

 

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
E: cucina@gandvhotel.com

https://www.quorvuscollection.com/en/gandv-hotel-edinburgh

 

“Think Less, Feel More” by Alice Boyle @ Howe Street Arts, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

After a very successful exhibition last year on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Alice Boyle is back this summer with a showcase of scintillating new work at Howe Street Arts, Howe Street, Edinburgh, from 25 July to 13 August, 2017.

The title “Think Less, Feel More” is taken from a 5 star review by Waldemar Januszcak of the Abstract Expressionism exhibition last year at Royal Academy, in which he concluded:

Willem de Kooning, Pink Angels, 1945

“.. art that set out to paint the way we feel through evocation and sensation. There’s not enough emotion in our art any more. We think too much and feel too little”.

Inspired herself by the Royal Academy retrospective of Rothko, Pollock, Gorky, de Kooning, et al,  Alice has taken a new route in the mode and manner of her own abstract expressionistic paintings.

Moving away from vibrant colours to a simplified palette, this exciting new collection exudes more of a sense of free-flowing energy and spontaneity, such as “Dancing on Waves” with its powerful force of deep, surging, surfing water.

Dancing on Waves, Alice Boyle

There are also quietly subdued images such as  “Are We Nearly Home Yet,”  a delicately composed flurry of whiteness, depicting a cool, icy isolated landscape, real or imaginary, with a warming streak of bright orange.

Are We Nearly Home Yet, Alice Boyle

Quirky titles reflect the human spirit and changing complexities of contemporary life, such as “Keep Connecting”, “It will Get Easier”, “Choices.”  In similar vein is “Decisions, Decisions”, a mass of swirling circles like a cloud of confusing thoughts, the feeling when one is unable to make up one’s mind.

Decisions, Decisions, Alice Boyle

In a more celebratory mood, “Feel the Bright” is a vibrant display of what could be fireworks, with sparkling bursts of light and fire, in which you can almost hear the sound of snap, crackle, pop.

Feel the Bright, Alice Boyle

Shine Bright Like a Diamond, Alice Boyle

“Shine like a Bright Diamond”  captures the sharp-edged, multi-faceted features of the gemstone with against an abstract flurry of colour, and dribbles of white paint like a precious pearl necklace.

Alice Boyle originally studied Interior Architecture and there are subtle influences here of monochrome, diagrammatic building blocks, blended with the Bridget Riley or Missoni approach to stylistic, structured pattern.

Alice uses acrylic paint with plaster to create richly textured layers on hardboard.

This is clearly evident in a humorous painting, “Let’s believe in Magic”, where thick brushstrokes create a golden yellow brick road ….perhaps leading us merrily along, off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Let’s Believe in Magic, Alice Boyle

Around the gallery, spot Boyle’s artistic trademark of crescent moons, sparkling stars, swirling circles and oval eggs, which all reflect her own interest in the power of mythology as a way to understand the human condition. birth, life and our place in the universe.  “Come Lie with Me” is a whimsical, childlike image of two round button figures, yet with an evocative sexual subtext of romantic love.

Following this theme, a most distinctive work is the visually imaginative, “Tree of Chaos”  akin to a surreal Miro-esque environment, a symbol of growth and the natural world.

Tree of Chaos, Alice Boyle

“Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye” Dorothy Parker.

Boyle’s distinctively original work is both wildly creative, yet composed with an astutely detailed, decorative vision: expect to be challenged, emotionally touched and frequently amused.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, we should observe this enigmatic work without too much thought and analysis – just go with the flow, simply let the eye follow curving lines and dancing shapes without trying to find hidden depth and an absolute clarity of meaning.

Alice has let her dreams and imagination run riot and fly sky high – the viewer can only excited and exhilarated by these bold and boisterous paintings. Choreographed like a dance, you will feel a sense of spirited movement, rhythm and energy, representing a passionate love of life, joy and renewed hope – a fresh, new, sassy and sophisticated style of Abstract Expressionism for the 21st century.

“Think Less, Feel More” – Alice Boyle

Howe Street Arts, 2 Howe Street, Edinburgh EH3 6TD

25 July to 13 August, 2017 – 10am to 7pm daily.

http://www.aliceboyle.co.uk

Arshile Gorky, Water of the Flowery Mill, 1944

“New Growth”: Abstract, Conceptual and Figurative Paintings by Davy Macdonald. Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

Until this point of my artistic journey I have focussed predominately on figurative painting together with landscape and still life studies. I now find my art evolving in new directions and recently have become interested in the development of abstract and conceptual art”

Davy Macdonald

With his own unique and innovative series of artistic genres, Davy Macdonald has been exhibiting in Edinburgh and London since 2009.  He has specialised in figurative works set within an historic or cultural background for his excellent Heritage Series such as Harris Tweed and Herring Lassies. These are stunning, dramatic paintings which tell the story of the women who wove the wool, against a backdrop of wild Hebridean seascapes, as well as the iconic fisherwomen at Newhaven harbour, shucking oysters and salting herring.

New Growth

This exhibition, “New Growth” is a diverse and dramatic range of Figurative, Abstract and Conceptual work, which clearly show how he has developed his style with a renewed creative spirit. His fascination with history, as illustrated with his impressive narrative paintings, is also matched by an interest in mythology and symbolism.

Three Ways North, Davy Macdonald

A new departure is venturing into abstract paintings – bold, vibrant patterns which express a freedom of movement, colour and geometric shape. “3 Ways North”  is a humorous, quirky representation of a map with the sign North, shown in three positions. Hang the picture any which way, to view the landscape of meandering roads, undulating hills, where the eye follows the compass direction upwards, right and left.

Follow Davy on an artistic journey, real or imagined. Reflecting on the political and environmental challenges which the world is now facing, “Weeping Earth” is a poignant and powerful illustration.

Weeping Earth, 2, Davy Macdonald

Picture the bleak scene: a wild sky of threatening dark clouds, a mass of grey, black and white captured in bold brushstrokes. Streaks of crimson red appear to drip like blood on to the stark, dry desert below, scorched in the heat.  Simple in structure, it packs a punch in its vibrancy and apocolyptic vision.

With his interest in Chinese art, “Jade Mine” is another striking conceptual image, reflecting the Yin and Yang theory of passive and active energy. Against the dark green of high mountain peaks, there’s the fiery glare of a red sun. Jade gemstones hold a significant place in the Chinese culture, believed to be a bridge between heaven and hell, symbolising knowledge, perfection, constancy and immortality.

Jade Mine, Davy Macdonald

Japanese cinema from the 1970s is also the subject of a few works, featuring such characters as such as Lone Wolf and Lady Snowblood.  This cult classic movie from director, Toshiya Fujita, a young woman (Meiko Kaji), trained as an assassin to seek revenge for the murders of her father and brother; the choreographed swordplay is described as visual poetry.

Macdonald has returned to his Heritage series of the Herring Lassies, evolving the theme by placing two or three young women in a less defined landscape. They stand, holding baskets of fish, gazing out at distant hills at sunrise, perhaps remembering and dreaming of their island home.

Sunrise 2, Davy Macdonald

Rather than the naturalistic setting of Newhaven harbour, this could be the Scottish Highlands, Outer Hebrides, Finland, Norway, Iceland.  These are most impressive figurative-landscapes, evocative of a freeze frame in a film, a moment in time, expressing a quiet emotional sense of nostalgia and loss.

Sunrise 1, Davy Macdonald

Around the gallery are new Portraits such as the artist’s muse, Evelyn Nesbit, the fair-skinned beauty from Tarentum, Philadelphia.

Muse, Evelyn Nesbitt, Davy Macdonald

After her father died, leaving her Scottish-Irish family in debt, Nesbit became a muse, modelling, fully clothed,for artists. In June 1900, she moved to New York City and soon, she was the most in-demand model, for portraits and fashion advertising, in Manhattan.

There are also examples of the classic Gothic Edinburgh paintings, and from the original Herring Lassies series. These are popular images with prints and originals being shipped around the world across Europe to Beijing.

“Herring Lassies” Heritage series,    “The Boat that didn’t come home” Davy Macdonald

Having known Davy Macdonald’s work for a few years, this is an inspiring and imaginative exhibition of figurative and abstract oil paintings, as well as Limited Edition Prints.  Prints are available to purchase from the ETSY shop. Each paper edition is strictly limited to 125.  Canvas prints are limited to 18 for each series.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DMACART

Commissions for Portraits are also welcome.

See more information at – www. dmacart.com

New Growth – Paintings by Davy Macdonald

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

Saturday 22 July to Saturday 29 July, 2017. 10am – 6pm daily.

 

 

“Venice: The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller” by Gillian Angrave – your perfect, personal companion in your pocket.

A recurring travel bug has certainly afflicted Gillian Angrave.  Her globetrotting career began in 1967 as Assistant Purser with P & O cruise line  followed by working for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.   Now enjoying a very active retirement, she continues to explore the world often returning to her favourite city, Venice.

“How could anyone not fall in love with Venice? 

She is flamboyant, magical and unique, like nowhere else on earth.”

“Venice – The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller,” volume 1, From Swamp to La Serenissima, begins in March 2015 when Gillian arrives for her first visit, describing her initial impressions and experiences. This is different from the typical guide book for tourists, full of historical facts and figures, a long directory on hotels and lists of key sites.  Instead, this personal travelogue is for the independently-minded visitor, in  search of art, culture, heritage and off the beaten track adventures.

To start, her advice if flying here, is to ensure you arrive into Venice by water, either by the efficient Alilaguna Ferry from Marco Polo airport or water taxi. “Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of the Canal Grande ..it really is awesome.”

Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge

There’s a brief history of Venice from 421 AD, when it had developed from the flooded River Po delta to a living “patchwork quilt” of 116 island communities around the Lagoon. Then follow in Gillian’s footsteps as she eagerly sets off around this flamboyant “water city,” in the Venetian manner of  “andare per le fodere,”  back-tracking the maze of narrow alleyways and a myrad of bridges to get from A to B.

Map of Venice

Getting lost is part of the fun and it’s easy to find your bearings with signs for Rialto and San Marco to keep you on the right track.  Soon this “virgin Venetian” is jumping on Vaporetti (water buses) here, there and everywhere  – “Hop on and off with a three day pass” she recommends.

Where to eat is always a difficult decision, but Gillian very soon finds Le Café, Campo Santo Stefano, to relish the perfect Spaghetti Bolognaise – a friendly, family run Ristorante which she returns to again and again.

Le Cafe, Campo, Santo Stefano

A walking tour takes her to La Merceria district, “a shopper’s paradise” followed by an excellent lunch at Café Saraceno. She zigzags her way along and around Il Canalazzo (Grand Canal), with its four famous bridges and iconic architecture,  taking a stroll one day along the waterfront promenade, Zattere Ponte Lungo, lined with bars and pizzerias, overlooking the island of Guidecca.  She also illustrates how the historic vision of the city has been preserved: the view of the Entrance to the Arsenale as painted in 1773  by Canaletto is virtually unchanged today.

Entrance to the Arsenale, by Canaletto

Day by day,  we tour Venice with Gillian as our personal guide. An early morning visit to see the Campanile, the 328 foot high Bell Tower in St. Mark’s Square, relating how the original tower collapsed on 14 July, 1902, but was rebuilt in just nine years. Further restoration in 1962 included the installation of a much appreciated lift.!

Gillian first in line to visit La Campanille

And of course, there are stunning Churches galore, such as Santa Maria della Salute, in such a perfect location near the mouth of the sweeping S shaped Canalazzo.  “ I do like La Salute with its octaganol cupola,  six chapels, Titian’s great works and organ recitals are held regularly. …”

The cupola inside Santa Maria della Salute

Burano, Harlequin Island

For an exhilarating day trip by Motonavo, (a large Vaporetto),  three charming islands out in the Laguna are Murano, famous for glassware and Burano with its row of former fishermen’s pretty coloured houses, giving its name Harlequin Island.

Torcello is renowned for its beautiful cathedral and where gourmands flock to eat at the legendary Locanda Cipriani restaurant.  Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip once visited for lunch, when the menu included ravioli, fried fish, pasta, beans and risotto!

Locanda Cipriani, Torcello

Although Gillian doesn’t cover this, here’s a little more of its fascinating story. Its founder, Giuseppe Cipriani was a hospitality entrepreneur,  first inventing Harry’s Bar in 1931, (near Piazza San Marco), which was like a private club for Hollywood stars, who sipped the house cocktail, Bellini and dined on Beef Carpaccio. A typical lunch here for Orson Welles was shrimp sandwiches, washed down with two bottles of Dom Perignon. Following the Bar’s celebrity success, in 1935 he founded the Ristorante on Torcello, ( beloved by Ernest Hemingway and other Harry’s Bar clientelle). Then in 1953, he planned his grand Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca, today the luxury, hideaway Belmond Cipriani Resort (a favourite of George Clooney).

At the end of  Chapter 1, Gillian writes, “ My love affair with Venice had now begun – I knew I would be back”.   Chapter 2 begins on 28 September, 2015, the diary of her second visit, where she stays at Hotel Flora, “ a 17th century palazzo tucked down a little alley off the Calle Larga XX11 Marzo” and she was soon back at her favourite Le Café for dinner.

Courtyard at Hotel Flora, Calle Larga XX II Marzo

And so her exploration continues, this time on a literary-inspired journey, visiting the former homes of Marco Polo, the intrepid traveller to the far East, and also of Robert Browning whose former address is now a museum. As the poet wrote, “Open my heart and you will see, graved inside of it, Italy.”   Gillian enjoys “sauntering .. soaking up the atmosphere” and is an expert at finding hidden gems such as a music museum of vintage instruments, and the statue, Il Gobbo de Rialto, a character in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice. ”  The Venice Biennale Festival of Modern Art since 1895,  proves an enlightening experience as she tours around the galleries.

It is also interesting to read about the Venice in Peril Fund, an appeal first launched by UNESCO in 1966 following the devastating flood to protect the city from further disaster. Residents say that “Venice is not sinking, the water is rising”.  The fasinating chapter, Watercraft of Venice tells the colourful history of the various boats, barges, ornately painted gondolas and the traditional role of the gondolier.

Gillian ends the book, with a fond farewell, “my love of Venice will grow ever stronger with the years to come. Ciao Venezia, e grazie mille”.

“Venice” by Jan Morris, (first published 1960) is now a modern classic and described as one of the best travel books about Venetian life and character, its waterways, architecture, bridges, tourists, curiosities, brought vividly to life.

In similar vein, Gillian Angrave shares her love affair with Venice, capturing its timeless, dreamlike sense of place. In his “Guide to Alexandria”, E. M. Foster advises the best way to look at the city is to “wander aimlessly about”.  That is exactly what Gillian accomplishes on her own wandering, meandering and sauntering around La Serenissima.

Her observations are not intended to be a comprehensive city guide covering the usual list of where to stay, eat, drink and what to see.   Instead, her humour, enthusiasm, knowledge, passion and quirky anecdotes offer a most enlightening narrative. Pack a copy of this slim, well illustrated book as your perfect travel companion in your pocket for your next trip to Venice.

Venice: The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller –  Volume 1, From Swamp to La Serenissima  

by Gillian Angrave

Angrave Publishing

(available on Amazon  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0995573948

P.S.  See also Venice: The Diary of an Awestruck Traveller, Volume 2.  (review to follow soon).

 

 

“The Lightness of Being” – Alison Simpson and Amanda Baron – delicate, decorative paper and glass artwork at the Birch Tree Gallery, Edinburgh

Birch Tree Gallery , Edinburgh

The Birch Tree Gallery opened on Dundas Street, Edinburgh in March 2017 specialising in showcasing the fine art of Craft.  The gallery name represents the simple yet effective  image of the texture of bark to denote the wider world of nature as represented through art.  A range of regularly changing exhibitions feature a diverse selection of artists who specialise in natural materials, creatively working with textiles, wood, glass, ceramics, paper, porcelain, metals, silver, gold, gemstones, as well as linocuts, mezzotints and screen prints.

“The Lightness of Being” currently showcases the innovative work of Alison Simpson and Amanda Baron, who specialise  respectively in Paper and Glass.

At Art College, Alison trained first and foremost as a sculptor, forging a career in metalwork, constructing and casting in steel, bronze and iron. But after a decade or more, the heat, heavy weight and hardness of the work and materials ceased to be an inspiration, and she wisely turned to learning about and experimenting with the delicate art of paper-crafting. Paper can be made from any plant, and Alison uses the fibres from cotton and linen and locally grown Scottish flax.

Another Month of Sundays – Alison Simpson

Around the gallery is a series of beautifully framed, white and gold, textured, decorative Paper squares. “Through Trees” shows what seems like a woodland of tall slender trunks, with perhaps the glow of the moon beyond. It is meticulously crafted, to reflect the light-as-a-feather, literally “paper-thin” material of the delicate fibrous fabric.

Through Trees – Alison Simpson

Around the gallery is also a marvellous display of sculptured paper ornaments such as a linked chain of bluebells with pretty petals, shapely shells and tiny birds.

Blue Ten – Alison Simpson

Alison lives and works on the Moray Firth, where the natural environment of the sea, beach, changing light and weather is all a rich stimulus in her creativity. As she explains, “When I make a piece of art, I want the viewer to stop struggling to understand, just to stand, to breathe, to rest the eye.  The complex and miraculous properties of paper allow me to do this, creating sculptural pieces that weigh little in comparison to their visual impact. ”

Large White Shell – Alison Simpson

To complement Alison’s enriching papercrafts, Amanda Baron is exhibiting an enticing collection of decorative glass and jewellery. She studied Architectural Glass at Edinburgh College of Art,  later Artist in residence here, and worked for many years as a conservator of stained glass.

Cloud Study – Amanda Baron

This exhibition features stunning framed works of kiln-fired enamel on mouth blown glass. The theme of the environment is inspired from a visit to the Isle of Eigg where along the Singing Sands and Laig Bay Beach, Amanda observed the sky, clouds, rock pools, ferns, lichen and sand patterns created by the tide.

Sand Movement – Amanda Baron

In such meticulous craftwork, “Sand Movement”, “Cloud Study”, and “Rock Pool,” the soft shades of blue, white and grey shapes almost appear floating in the transparency of the glass.

Rock Pool – Amanda Baron

Here are circles, discs, ovals and patterned shapes to represent the impression of shards of light and droplets of water,  grains of sand, shells, seaweed – fragments of the seashore recreated as imaginatively composed works of art.

Oval line – Amanda Baron

As Amanda describes the process: “I make paintings on glass that reflect my research into elements of Scottish landscape. I highlight the qualities of glass using traditional painting, staining and enameling techniques that are relatively unchanged since the medieval period. The work is hand painted using kiln fired glass paints and can have up to six firings to build up surface layers. They embody and crystallise my response to the craft of the material and the beauty of landscape”.

The result is a masterly effect of landscape painting and botanical illustration inspired by traditional stained glass.  See also her collection of jewellery, such as exquisitely polished and perfected orange, gold and green glass pendants.

This is truly a most inspirational and imaginatively curated exhibition, where the beauty of Scottish land and sea, from the Highlands to the Hebrides has been translated into such finely crafted artworks composed in paper and glass.

The Lightness of Being – Alison Simpson and Amanda Baron

6 July to 1 August, 2017

Birch Tree Gallery 23a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QQ

www.birchtreegallery.co.uk

 

Rose Strang – Moonscapes: Isle of Harris @ Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh

I first came across the beautifully crafted and atmospheric landscapes of the Scottish Borders by Rose Strang when she exhibited her work at Whitespace Gallery, Howe Street, Edinburgh in July 2015.

At the time, I wrote:  “There’s a distinctive sense of physically being outside in the open air as you study each canvas; it’s the subtlety of thin shards of sunlight through leaves as well as such a realistic perspective of each landscape”.

Moffat Hills, Rose Strang

Rose is clearly inspired by the sense of place, the outdoor natural world and wide open spaces.  This exhibition of new paintings, entitled Moonscapes, is based on her journey this summer to the Isle of Harris, the Outer Hebrides…..certainly a painterly destination for a breath of fresh air and stunning scenic views of mountains and seashore.

Before I describe the artworks, this is a fascinating story.  Take a look at this photograph.

West Beach

The white sands and gently lapping turquoise sea at Kai Bae Beach, Thailand looks like heaven on earth.

There is just one problem. The photograph is actually of West Beach on the beautiful, but slightly cooler, island of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides.  Instead of sending a photographer to Kai Bae, Thailand tourism simply Googled images of idyllic beaches and borrowed one of Berneray. The sand dunes and calm azure water may look tropical, but distant Harris hills and a lack of coconut palms is not Thailand!

The diverse scenery around Harris is simply stunning and certainly an artist’s paradise.

Traigh Luskentir, Harris – Rose Strang

Take a tour around Harris to view the lush, languid beauty of Luskentyre Bay with its iconic undulating dunes of pure white sand, etched with wild machair grasses along the shore.

Luksentir Sea – Rose Strang

A totally different terrain is experienced on the east coast of the island where you’ll find a rugged, rocky, raw and wild seascape. Rose must have studied each place for hours to capture the change of light from dawn to dusk. As the title suggests, there are delicate scenes of lochs and distant hills bathed in soft moonlight.

Harris Moon – Rose Strang

What is especially creative is the method by which thick brushstrokes of oil, perhaps with the addition of grass or sand added, (similar to the masterstroke by Joan Eardley) to create a realistic aspect to denote the texture and tone of the natural environment on the canvas.

Harris Twilight – Rose Strang

Colour palette is muted but again, natural, with blends of turquoise and navy blue to show the shallow and deep water of the sea, matched by the bracken brown and sage green shades of wild flowers and foliage.

The paintings range from large landscapes to miniature vignettes, but all composed with extraordinary detail, especially the study and movement of waves and clouds.

What I admire about Rose’s briskly painted, sketchy style of land and seascapes, is that they are purposely not photographic.   A Kodak or digital image represents the accuracy of a scene, but not the atmospheric mood, the gentle graduation of light and shade.

Na Buirgh Beach, Harris – Rose Strang

This is the work of someone who is totally absorbed by what she sees, and with the astute eye of an artist, is able to present a fresh, impressionistic clarity of vision.

Just like her paintings of the Borders, here again you really feel that you are standing there on the beach or wild moorland on the Isle of Harris. Catch the whiff of the salt sea air, the warmth of the sun or chill breeze of  late evening –  as you walk around the gallery.

Moonscapes: Isle of Harris by Rose Strang

14 – 20 July, 2017

Whitespace Gallery, East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ

If you cannot visit the gallery this week, do take a look at her website for images and information:

http://www.rosestrangartworks.wordpress.com