A serene sense of place is captured in “Moments in Time” – by Jamie Primrose: Dundas Street Gallery, 7 – 15 June, 2019

Luminous skies towards Mull

It was in June, 2004 when Jamie Primrose, launched his first solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery. That inaugural showcase of his distinctive city streets and seascapes was the start of bi-annual events, which this month celebrates the 15th anniversary.

“Moments in Time” features sixty paintings selected from 2004 to 2019, as a colourful and enriching retrospective, focusing especially on dramatic observations of sky, sun and sea, day and night from sunrise to sunset.

The tranquil beauty of East Lothian is illustrated by painterly panoramas of wide, sandy beaches,  the sweep of the bay at North Berwick with the grey crag of the Bass Rock out at sea.

Afternoon clouds passing over North Berwick

“There began to fall a greyness on the face of the sea; little dabs of pink and red, like coals of a slow fire.

With the growing of the dawn I could see it clearer and clearer, the straight crags painted with sea-birds’ droppings like a morning frost, the sloping top of it, green with grass.”

 Robert Louis Stevenson: The Bass Rock from “Catriona”

This quotation so aptly describes the colour palette of pink, grey and white oils in these paintings of the Bass Rock and North Berwick.  Like RLS, I loved spending summer holidays and days out in North Berwick as a child. This peaceful seaside resort has hardly changed.

What is so impressive is how Primrose perfects meteorological realism of floating, fluffy clouds across the wide expanse of sky.

Looking towards the Bass Rock from North Berwick

Winter skies over the Bass Rock

Further along the East Coast towards Edinburgh, there are views of Portobello Beach, majestic structures of the Forth Bridges and the quaint village of Cramond.

Travel on to the North West Highlands near Oban, gateway to the Hebrides, for the great escape to the wild, empty shores of Loch Melfort, Port Appin and Lismore.

Rain clouds over Lismore

A series of stunning  seascapes depict endless skies, shimmering shapes of distant islands and the rolling hills of Mull on the horizon.  With such exquisite quality of light, streaming through stormy clouds, you can easily imagine standing there on the shore, tasting the salt sea air blowing in the breeze.

Next take a trip to the south of France – suitably known as the Cote d’Azur – where for generations of artists, from Picasso and Peploe to Primrose, the Tiffany-blue sea under a  glistening glow of light, has been a constant attraction.  Feel the warmth of the summer sun in scenes of the charming resort towns of Antibes, Nice and Villefranch, bathed in a pale pure light.

Azure reflections from Villefranche

Further along the coast is the Italian Riviera with the colourful historic towns of the Cinque Terre, such as “Late Afternoon at Manorala”  perched on the cliff top surrounded by verdant vineyards.

Late Afternoon, Manorala, Cinque Terre

Portofino, known as a summer playground for wealthy lifestyle and leisure, curves around a half moon bay, the harbour lined by super yachts and fishing boats, beside a row of designer shops, bars and restaurants.

Sunset over Portofino

The American journalist Robert Benchley sent a celebrated telegram to his editor at the New Yorker after arriving in Venice for the first time: “Streets full of water. Please advise.”  He obviously had no prior knowledge of this historic city of islands!

Early morning near San Polo, Venice

Regarded as the most romantic city in the world, the meandering, unchanging waterways of Venice have inspired writers and painters over the centuries to capture its mesmerising magic.

Last Light on the Grand Canal, Venice” is a magnificent scene composed with such clarity in subtle shades of terracotta, cream and ochre: graceful palazzos, arched windows and church domes in a perfect perspective is a work of architectural draughtsmanship.  In the centre, the Grand Canal shimmers in this quiet moment before dusk.

Last Light on the Grand Canal, Venice

“It is a city of mirrors, a city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.” Erica Jong on Venice

Here too are iconic images of the Thames flowing through London, magical, moody studies with Turneresque tones in soft shades of blue and grey.

Light falling on the Thames

This collection of oil paintings by Jamie Primrose highlights with meticulous detail, the subtle nuances of sun, light, shade and shadow, which he has developed over the past fifteen years, into his own masterly artistic style.

For me a landscape hardly exists at all as a landscape, because its appearance is changing in every moment, but it lives through its ambience, through the air and the light, which vary constantly.”—Claude Monet

Do visit the Dundas Street Gallery soon to experience a marvellous tour around these dreamlike destinations from Scotland to La Serenissima, each composition captured with such a serene sense of place and intangible timelessness.

The Dundas Street Gallery,

6a Dundas Street,

Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

Opening hours: Daily, 11am – 6pm.

Saturday 15th June, 11am – 5pm.

For more information on this work, private commissions and prints, see www.jamieprimrose.com

Venetian Sunrise

Advertisements

Kinky Boots: as camp as Christmas, this rom-com musical struts its stuff at the Edinburgh Playhouse

Kinky Boots has marched majestically into town to dazzle audiences over the Festive season at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 5 January 2019 before stutting off around the UK.

The original British-American movie (2005) was inspired by real life events.  The W.J. Brooks Shoe Company in Northampton was founded in 1898, and continued as a very successful family business for the next century making 4,000 pairs of traditional shoes and employing 70 people.  But then cheaper imports from the Far East began to destroy the British shoe industry causing redundancies.

Like a fairy godmother, the owner of a shop in Folkestone requested an order of thigh high PVC boots for cross-dressers and drag queens male size and the entrepreneurial company manager Steve Pateman saw the potential of a diverse new market, and produced a range called Divine Footwear.

Steve Pateman, the original Kinky Boots shoemaker

The amazing change of fortune for W. J Brooks was featured in BBC documentary, “Trouble At The Top” in 1999.  This inspired a fictionalised version of the story for a comedy film and “Kinky Boots” premiered in 2005 with the tag line: “How far would you go to save the family business?”

Scene from Kinky Boots, the Movie

From big screen to the Broadway stage in 2013, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a lively score and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, (the legendary composer of such enduring hits as “Time After Time,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,”), foot tapping choreography by Jerry Mitchell and a book by Harvey Fierstein.

The reinvented storyline features Charlie Price who is the fourth generation of his family business, Price & Son, a shoe factory in Northampton, but is not keen to take over from his father and plans to move to London with Nicola, his ambitious girlfriend who wants to escape small town life. But when his father suddenly passes away, he inherits the shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy.

The set is all about minimalist and flexible staging and props. A front screen shows the brick wall exterior with the Price & Sons sign, opening up into the factory with a moveable platform, boxes of shoes and a bustling crowd of staff.  Desperate to follow his father’s legacy and save the family business, Charlie finds inspiration after a fortuitous encounter with a transvestite cabaret singer, Lola who inspires Charlie with the offer of a contract to manufacture a line of mansize fetish footwear for her drag queen dancers, The Angels.

Joel Harper-Jackson as Charlie in Kinky Boots

With Lola in charge of design alongside the fun and funky, Lauren, as project manager, the cobblers get into production mode  with samples selected and prototype created for sparkling knee high, latex and leather high heel boots.

Like a mash up of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” with a dazzling dash of “Sex and the City”,  it’s a heartwarming story to reveal how important fashion is in helping people whatever race, class and sexuality, to express themselves with gay abandon.

Lola and her cabaret of Angels

Don, a down to earth factory worker is steeped in tradition where men are macho and women are feminine; challenging him to a duel of wits, Lola plays a central role in illustrating how we must accept people for whom they are without prejudice and discrimination.  Charlie and Lola may be worlds apart in social background but their business collaboration transforms into a buddy buddy friendship.  Portrayed with a rather innocent boyish charm, Joel Harper-Jackson, Charlie gradually opens his eyes to see what matters most, to take a change of direction both at work and in his love life.

With gleeful energy, expect a mixture of pop, raunchy rock, torch song ballads and disco Drag Queen numbers. Slick choreography throughout is jazzed up with acrobatic flair for a brilliant scene on and off the fast moving conveyor belt.

The dynamic diva, Lola (Kayi Ushe)

Kahi Ushe stars as the dynamic diva Lola with exhilarating poise and pizzazz, tough cookie humour as well as a heart of gold.  The Angels are stunningly beautiful,  strutting the catwalk to show how these sparkling red boots are made for dancing and prancing ….not just walking.

As colourful and camp as Christmas, this high kicking, rom-com musical is a crazy antidote to the traditional pantomime – jolly, joyful festive entertainment for all the family.

“Kinky Boots” is at the Edinburgh Playhouse

Monday 10 December, 2018 to 5 January, 2019

UK Tour 2019:

http://www.kinkybootsthemusical.co.uk/uk-tour/tour-dates-venues.php

Cinderella, a modern day fairy tale: Scottish Ballet on the road this Festive season

Scottish Ballet’s Christmas Treat:  Ingredients: 1 rose, 1 kitchen maid, 2 cheeky stepsisters, 1 fairy godmother, a scattering of insects, a sprinkling of ballgowns and tuxedos, 1 Prince.  Mix together with vibrant colour, wit and magic for a delicious confection.

This recipe is not an overly sugary sweet but a cool, contemporary revamp of the classic Fairytale, relating the rags to riches journey with richly emotional and dramatic story telling.  First choreographed by Christopher Hampson for New Zealand Ballet in 2007, Cinderella was given its European Premiere by Scottish Ballet three years ago and is now touring Scotland for the Festive Season in a glamorous revival.

A prologue transports us back to a miserable, wet day as mourners gather under black umbrellas for the funeral of Cinderella’s mother. The young girl plants a solitary rose on the grave, the flower being a recurring motif throughout to represent the beauty of nature, remembrance and love.

This dark, stark image of death is a vital starting point as we then see Cinderella at work in a cold kitchen, unloved by her stepmother and teased by her two stepsisters. In her pale blue dress and apron, she pirouettes to a gypsy folk tune, highlighting her lonely existence. The bullying culture in this dysfunctional, disjointed family may seem a humorous prank, but is very much a modern message.

Cinderella, (Sophie Martin)

In a traditional Upstairs Downstairs scenario, meanwhile the sisters are in gleeful mood  as they prepare for the Royal Ball.  A flurry of dressmakers and cobblers present a flourish of frocks and shoes to sample with vivacious energy, as well as a much required dance lesson with hilarious results.

Grace Horler & Kayla-Maree Tarantolo, with Jamiel Lawrence, Dance tutor

Kayla-Maree Tarantolo and Grace Horler portray the petite wee one and her gangling tall sister with fabulous, flamboyant, fun with no hint of the ugly stepsisters in a pantomimic burlesque. Trying desperately to fit their feet into the lost slipper is a scene of comic genius.

The stunning Art Nouveau stage and costume designs by Tracy Grant Lord are integral to the narrative which unfolds scene by scene like observing the dramatic action played out inside a child’s toy Theatre.  The rose bush has blossomed into a giant tree with Rennie MacIntosh–style artistry as a decorative backdrop; enter a dreamland world of wonder and magical spells, where wishes do come true.

The Silk Moths

The intricately crafted choreography is a seamless flow with perfect quick-changing tempo for a very bouncy, very green grasshopper, to a fluttering flight of silk moths and a fast spinning web of spiders.  Surrounding the Fairy Godmother is her beautiful bouquet of swirling pink Roses, her garland of girls.

The Roses

With a nod to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the Ballroom scene is exquisitely staged with the Prince’s guests in slinky silk gowns, white tie and tails, waltzing in perfect unison.

The Royal Ball

Centre stage, Cinderella (the sylphic Sophie Martin) is transformed from ragged waif to regal Ballerina as she is swept off her feet by the charming Prince (Barnbaby Rook-Bishop) in their dazzling duets. Pure romance.

The Prokofiev score captures the full orchestral colours to dramatise the mood, from light to dark, quirky characterisations and lively wit through a flowing melody, harmony, pace. Shifting from moments of spontaneity to slow, slow elegant grace, it is rich in Russian, romantic sentiment, the music weaving its magic with seductive charm.

Romance blossoms at the Royal Ball

With a bold rainbow of colours, there’s a myriad of marvellous costumes for the tailors & spiders, shoemakers & moths, stepsisters, Roses, Royal Ball partygoers; not forgetting the Kafka-esque metamorphosis from delightful dance tutor to grinning grasshopper. The characters imaginatively come to life through facial expression, gesture and the fine detail of each and every dancing step.

This is a Cinderella for today, preserving the traditional magical tale with an underlying darker mood to reflect on a young girl grieving for her mother, as well as the art of kindness, finding love and romance. Fantasy meets Reality.

This vibrant, vivacious production may date from 2007, but is as fresh as a daisy, or perhaps more aptly, a blossoming pink rose.  As Scottish Ballet prepares for its 50th birthday in 2019, this kicks off the sparkling year of celebration “en pointe.”

Scottish Ballet on tour:

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 8-30 December, 2018

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 4-12 January, 2019

His Majesty’s, Aberdeen, 16-19 January, 2019

Eden Court, Inverness, 23-26 January, 2019

Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 30 January-2 February, 2019

http://www.scottishballet/co.uk/event/cinderella

Sophie Martin and Barnaby Rook-Bishop

Calling all Champagne lovers: Fizz Feast is back in Edinburgh on Saturday, 17th November

A timely reminder that Fizz Feast returns to the Edinburgh Academy this weekend, an informative, inspiring event where you can sip a few delicious tipples and meet the expert winemakers to learn all about the wonderful world of Prosecco, Cava, Cremant and Champagne.

It’s the great opportunity to find your favourite Festive Fizz for Christmas and New Year parties.

So book your tickets and join in the seasonal fun at Fizz Feast 2018.

Tickets from £22.50, available from www.WineEventsScotland.co.uk

Saturday 17th November, 2018 – Two sessions, 12 – 3pm; 4 – 7pm

Edinburgh Academy, 42 Henderson Row, Edinburgh EH3 5BL

Whether you are planning a family dinner or a casual get together with friends, with a few bottles off Fizz to share, it guarantees to be a sparkling occasion.  Cheers!

I Love Lucy Party GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

“Sparkling Hues,” Edinburgh through the Seasons – Jamie Primrose @ Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

Winter Morning looking down Middle Meadow Walk, Jamie Primrose

They were crossing the Meadows glaring green under the snowy sky. Their destination was the Old Town, for Miss Brodie had said they should see where history had been lived; and their route had brought them to the Middle Meadow Walk”.

From “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”  Muriel Spark

Born in Edinburgh in 1918, the novelist Muriel Spark was brought up in Bruntsfield and educated at James Gillespie’s School where an influential teacher inspired the creation of the charismatic Miss Brodie.  Renowned worldwide for her literary genius and while Italy became her second home, Edinburgh was always special: she considered herself ‘Scottish by formation.’

Over the past fifteen years, I have followed Jamie Primrose’s artistic journey as he travels around his equally beloved home city of Edinburgh to paint his favourite scenes in colourful oils on canvas.  This new exhibition, Sparkling Hues captures the parks, streets, lochs and rolling hills as well as the timeless beauty of the dramatic skyline through the changing seasons.

Dancing Shadows on the Meadows, Jamie Primrose

Primrose has a fascination with “the ephemeral nature of light” and here you can observe similar scenes “snapped” across the shifting times of day from dawn to dusk.   Most impressive is the meticulous manner in which he illustrates the distinctive change of seasons from the birth of Springtime to crisp, chilly Winter.

With indepth personal knowledge of Marchmont where he lives, a familiar stomping ground in this show is The Meadows.  Here is the flowering, frothy pink blossom of Spring, with shards of sun streaming through the branches, casting long shadows on the grass.

Dappling Light over the Meadows, Jamie Primrose

It is stunning to view this wide expanse of parkland and long avenues of trees, each scene showing how the light slowly shifts between the brightness of midday and the first glow of sunset.   Muriel Spark would certainly have loved seeing these trees in Springtime, a fond memory from her schooldays:

It was an Edwardian building with big windows that looked out over the leafy trees, the skies and the swooping gulls of Bruntsfield Links. The school was a ten-minute walk through avenues of tall trees. Leading away was another avenue of hawthorns, flowering dark pink, the May blossoms.  Muriel Spark

Last Light over the Meadows

In March this year, Edinburgh was in the grips of a hard winter with schools closed and normal daily life ground to a frozen halt for a few days. While his children enjoyed sledging in The Meadows,  Jamie was keen to capture the quiet, white wonderland.

Snow Shadows towards Arthur’s Seat, Jamie Primrose

In paintings such as “Snow Shadows looking towards Arthur’s Seat,” “Last Light on Spottiswoode Street,”  and “Sunrise on Middle Meadow Walk”,  the icy snow with footprints, car and sledge tracks is depicted with brilliant clarity.  Just look at this glowing salmon pink sky as the sun fades away.

Last Light on Spottiswoode Street, Jamie Primrose

Following the year through nature is very much the theme of this collection with the trees also dressed in the gorgeous, golden colours of October.  “Autumnal Burst of Colour in the Meadows” is particularly representative of the exhibiton title, Sparkling Hues.  Exquisitely crafted, this painting needs to be studied close up and personal to appreciate the subtle, soft haze of sunlight shining on the bright copper leaves.

Autumnal Burst of Colour, Jamie Primrose

As you wander around Dundas Street Gallery, you can also trek up Arthur’s Seat to see Duddingston Loch,  take in a panoramic view across the city to the Firth of Forth from Blackford Hill and stroll along the towpath of the Union Canal, the charming rural waterway flowing through Polwarth.

Autumn Reflections at Polwarth, Jamie Primrose

Jamie Primrose also specialises in fine black and white Ink drawings of iconic city views, streets and church spires, from cobbled closes of the Old Town to the elegant crescents of the New Town.  Commissions are also available for your favourite place to be preserved in a painting.

Visit the Dundas Street Gallery soon to see this marvellous, magical evocation of Edinburgh as observed through the natural world of our seasons.

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

Saturday 3rd November to Saturday 10th November: Weekdays, 11am-6pm.  Saturday, 11am to 5pm.

More information: 

http://www.jamieprimrose.com/latest/index.html

http://www.jamieprimrose.com

Autumnal Drama over the city from Blackford Hill, Jamie Primrose

Join in the Absolutely Fabulous Fun at Fizz Feast 2018 – Saturday 17th November, Edinburgh Academy

Christmas party?  Pop the Champagne

The clocks have been turned back an hour, we heading full speed into November, the weather is decidedly frosty and it’s time to start whispering the C word … and all that this implies … Christmas, Celebration, Cards, Chocolate, Cheese, and of course Cava and Champagne.

The really great news is that all your browsing and shopping for Festive food & drink and gifts galore can be found under one roof at Fizz Feast – back again for the 3rd fabulous year.

Save the date –  Saturday 17th November 2018   

Where:  Edinburgh Academy, Henderson Row.  Time: Two sessions,, 12 – 3pm; 4 – 7pm

If you have not experienced this super, sparkling show, what’s it all about?

Organised by Diana Thompson of the award winning Wine Events Scotland, Fizz Feast is the only exhibitor event in the country for consumers to meet wine producers, sample tastings, purchase and order a diverse selection of Champagnes and Sparkling wines.

Ladies loving Fizz and Fizz Feast

This year, Fizz Feast is showcasing Champagne, Prosecco, Cava & Sparkling Wines from vineyards and wine makers worldwide, literally from A – Z,  Ambriel English Sparkling Wine to Zonin1821 Prosecco from Italy.

What could be more perfect for toasting family and friends than a coupe or three of Taittinger Champagne.?!

First established in 1734, the world famous House, Champagne Taittinger Reims,  produces high-quality champagnes, a distinctive blend of grapes –  Chardonnay (35%) Pinot Noir (50%) and Pinot Meunier (15%), to reflect the unique Taittinger style.  This is the finest region of the Champagne country stretching from the Côte des Blancs to the Vallée de la Marne and the Montagne de Reims.

When it comes to champagne it is hard to beat Taittinger. The Brut Reserve is renowned for its golden yellow colour, hints of fresh fruit, brioche and honey. A delicate, fresh and elegant wine – an excellent aperitif.” Frost Magazine.

To learn more about this Rolls Royce of deluxe brands, from Brut Reserve to Prestige vintages, reserve a place for the Taittinger Masterclass at 12.30pm with Master of Wine Mark O’Bryen. (Tickets £7.50 )

The first Cava labelled Vilarnau was created in 1949 made from grapes grown on the “Can Petit i Les Planes de Vilarnau” estate for several centuries.  Today Vilarnau Cava, a  small aritisan, cutting edge winery near Barcelona offers a modern, artistic concept to wine making and presentation. Their colourful floral labels reflect the Spanish sunshine, nature and “the character and spirit of Vilarnau: contemporary, elegant and minimalist.”

Artistic bottles – Vilarnau Cava

There’s a fizzing selection, such as Vilarnau Demi Sec, Vilarnau Brut Reserva, Brut Reserva Rosé,  Brut Nature Vintage.  Cavas which are aged for longer, the bubbles are much finer and rise slowly, creating a long-lasting mousse. Vilarnau is a pioneering Cava house also creating two Organic wines, Vilarnau Brut Nature and Vilarnau Demi-Sec.

Hamish Breden will introduce the various editions of this award winning Vilarnau Cava at a special Masterclass taking place at 1.45pm.  Just a fiver a ticket to be booked in advance.

Greyfriars vineyard, Surrey

Greyfriars in Surrey produces high quality sparkling wines using the traditional method of secondary fermentation and ageing. The vineyard is planted with the three classic Champagne grape varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which suit the unique chalk soil conditions and climate of the North Downs.

Greyfriars English sparkling wine

At Fizz Feast you may be able to sample of Greyfriars wines – Cuvee Royale, Blanc de Blancs, ‎Non Vintage Sparkling Cuvée, Sparkling Rosé  Reserve et al.

Greyfriars Sparkling Rose Reserve “ A delicate pale colour reminiscent of a rose from Provence. Hints of vanilla and summer fruits on the nose with fresh fruity flavours of berries.”   

“Greyfriars Blanc de Blancs is a cracker. It comes from the estate’s Chardonnay grapes and is fuller, rounder and creamier and nuttier with a rich softness like lemon curd smeared on a warm brioche.”

Established in 1821, Zonin has become Italy’s largest privately-owned winery and Zonin Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, native to the Veneto region. Zonin Prosecco Brut NV DOC  is described as light and refreshing, a palate of fresh pear, dessert apple, with a floral and almond aroma.

Prosecco is the beginning of almost any Italian celebration, whether as an aperitif or enjoy it throughout the meal. A bottle of Zonin Prosecco is the easy way to make any experience truly Italian and one that enhances the joy of life.

It is not just a sparkling wine, but a wine that sparkles”.

Francesco Zonin, Vice President, Zonin1821.

Digby Fine English Wines is a most inventive brand co-founded by Jason Humphries and Trevor Clough who employ the exemplary Irish winemaker Dermot Sugrue to source fruit from farmers across southern England, to create their Sparkling winesIt is fascintating to learn that Digby is named in honour of Sir Kenelm Digby, a 17th century pirate who was involved in developing the modern wine bottle. Cheers to that!

Digby is the first pure English Sparkling Wine Negociant – and to hear more about the story of this finely crafted fizz and a famous pirate, book a ticket for the Masterclass taking place at 5.45pm.

Most inspiring and extremely vital for a growing consumer market, Vegan Tipples is making their first appearance at Fizz Feast having only launched in 2018 as a one stop shop for quality drinks with the use of no animal products.  Eggs, milk, Isinglass (fish bladders) and sometimes Gelatin, are used in the process of alcohol production and many drinkers (vegetarians or not) may be unaware of this.   The company is the supplier of a wide range of 100% organic drinks – beers, wines, and spirits sourced worldwide.

Their Fizz selection includes Pierre Mignon Champagne, Cremant de Loire, Blanc de Blancs, Cava Brut, Sparkling Chardonnay and Shiraz.  Vegan Tipples is based in Leith so very handy if you wish to visit the store to stock up on a box or two!

The very well established firm, Cockburns of Leith was founded in Edinburgh in 1796 by Robert Cockburn, brother of the famous literary figure, Lord Cockburn. Spanning four centuries, its customers have included Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens and King George IV.

Scotland’s oldest wine merchant serves retail, corporate and trade customers offering champagne, sherry, and port,  red, white, and sweet wines.  Cockburns will be presenting a selection of Champagne, sparkling wines as well as an innovative juicy red Prosecco.

Jonathan Simpkin of Woodhouse Wines will be back this year presenting another excellent tasting event combined with his expert advice, knowledge and passion on the subject.  High Street stores, Oddbins and Lidl will also show off an enticing display of cool, crisp fizz for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Whether you sip a classy Champagne or a cheeky Cava, an aperitif is complemented perfectly with a few nibbles or indeed serve with festive oysters, lobster, fish, meat, cheese and desserts.  Festival goers will also find an appetising feast of quality foods to sample and purchase such as Tobermory Smoked Trout and other seafood from the Isle of Mull, Sardinian speciality foods,  chunky cheddar from Damn Fine Cheese, Flavour Magic spices and Fairtrade organic Pacari Chocolate from Ecuador.

Pacari Brand Ambassador Juan Santelices will join Fizz Feast organiser Diana Thompson to match this superior chocolate with the perfect fizz in an inspiring Masterclass at 4.30pm. (Book tickets on line).

For a refreshing change of tipple, perhaps try and G&T with Caorunn Gin and slice of red apple.  Around the Feast Hall will be candles, crafts and artisan foods –  perfect Christmas gifts, as well as tasty treats for the Festive season.

Fizz Feast has been a sell out success over the past couple of years as these visitors testify:

What a fabulously fizzy, effervescent event, huge thanks” – Jonathan Ray, author & exhibitor
“What a fabulous event. Well done Diana!”  – Joanna, visitor
“Fantastic excitement and fun.  Loved every minute” – Zoe, visitor
“Spectacular! We all really enjoyed it, thank you” – Janine, visitor

So book your tickets and join in the seasonal, sparkling fun at Fizz Feast 2018!

Tickets – starting from £22.50 – available from www.WineEventsScotland.co.uk

 Saturday 17th November, 2018 – Two sessions, 12 – 3pm; 4 – 7pm

Four Masterclasses – Taittinger Champagne, Vilarnau Cava, Pecari Chocolate & Fizz, Digby Fine English.  Advance tickets, £5 – £ 7.50

Fizz Feast – sociable, informative, inspiring fun

Fizz Feast is organised by Diana Thompson of Wine Event Scotland,  a qualified Wine & Spirit Education Trust tutor with almost 30 years in the wine industry.  Year round she hosts wine courses, workshops and masterclasses with wine producers, importers and Scottish independent retailers.

“Best Hospitality & Drinks Industry Marketing Company – Scotland”  Lux Magazine

Wine Event Organiser of the Year, Lux Wine & Drink Awards

“Wine Event Organiser of the Year” – Scottish Enterprise Awards 2018

 

“Timeless Places” by Anne Butler: an expressive meditation on our natural world with ‘joie de vivre’.

Timeless Place, Anne Butler

ANNE BUTLER

Solo exhibition “Timeless Places:” 

15 – 20 September 2018
Dundas Street Gallery,  6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Opening times: 10am – 6pm.  

Anne Butler is renowned for abstract landscapes and floral studies with a vivid, vivacious use of colour. Last year in September, I visited Dundas Street Gallery to view her showcase of paintings entitled “Land and Sea” featuring most evocative scenic views.

As I wrote at the time, “ There is a recurring theme of time,  memories, ghosts of the past, the flow of the seasons, Spring flowers to migrating geese. Colour is clearly the dominant aspect of Anne’s vibrant green and blue land and seascapes.”  

This new exhibition “Timeless Places” takes the viewer on a journey from the idyllic Hebridean island of Iona to the Canal Du Midi in France, as well as an artistic reflection on a recent loss in her family.

Anne spent a month on Iona in the early part of this summer. As she recalls, “ I like the changing weather on Iona. It can be misty in the morning, wild and windy in the afternoon and calm in the evening.” 

North End of Iona, Anne Butler

The great pioneering Impressionist painters Monet and Cezanne found that they could capture the transient effects of sunlight by working quickly, “en plein air” rather than in a studio.

For me a landscape hardly exists at all as a landscape, because its appearance is changing in every moment, but it lives through its ambience, through the air and the light, which vary constantly.”—Claude Monet

Likewise she works outdoors and in all weathers, painting in acrylic to build up layers with a rich colourful texture.   This creates a marvellous perspective of sand, sky, sea, grass, rock, wild flowers through thick brush strokes to bring an intangible freshness to the scene.

Sweeping the North End, Anne Butler

Standing in front of these wildly abstract paintings, it feels as if you are there too on the sandy beach with the breeze of salt sea air and the sound of lapping waves.

Iona has attracted artists for decades most notably the Scottish Colourists.  After painting scenic views in Venice and along the Cote d’ Azur, it was on a trip to Iona where Francis Cadell realised that the light on the West Coast of Scotland was perfect and he visited Iona almost every summer from 1912 for the next two decades.  He felt very much part of the island community as described in his poem One Sunday in Iona, 1913.

The North End of Iona, Cadell

Warmed by the sun, blown by the wind I sat
Upon the hill top looking at the sound.
Down in the church beneath, the people sat
On chairs and laughed and frowned.

No chairs for me when I can lie
And air myself upon the heather
And watch the fat bees buzzing by
And smell the small of summer weather

A View from Iona, Cadell

Let them bow down to God unfound
For me the sound that stretches round
For me the flowers scented ground
Upon the hilltop, looking at the sound.

Iona has preserved its symbolic status as the birthplace of Celtic Christianity since St. Columba arrived here from Ireland in 563 AD to build a monastery.  Today the Medieval Iona Abbey has daily church services and residential Retreats.

“Pilgrimage” was painted after chatting to a visitor who had travelled from Minneapolis, just one of thousands of people who come to experience both the religious heritage and the restful, unspoilt beauty of the island.

Pilgrimage, Anne Butler

Shimmering shades of blue reflect both sky and sea against dark grey blocks which could represent the Abbey or rocks on the shore.  A sleek streak of aqua paint drips down the centre, creating the fluidity and movement of light and water with a dreamlike, meditative mood.

Tranquility too along the Canal du Midi, Languedoc which has attracted generations of artists.  Here, Anne depicts  the colourful expanse of vineyards and fields which flourish with pink poppies, lavender and golden sunflowers.

Canal du Midi, Anne Butler

Around the walls are marvellous impressionistic landscapes re-imagined like a patchwork quilt as well as more realistic scenes such as Autumn trees, farmhouses and the grassy meadow around Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh.

There is a bold immediacy working on a scene while in the scene, a snapshot of the fleeting quality of light amidst  painterly patterns.  In this masterly new collection or artwork, Anne Butler captures the lingering, lost atmosphere of place, the underlying tranquil timelessness of beauty in our natural world with an expressive joie de vivre.

I hear the Corncrake, Anne Butler

“Painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing sensations.”—Paul Cézanne

 

 

 

“Berlin in Stone” – a photographic journey through place and time with classic artistic vision by Eion Johnston

Berlin in Stone – Photographs by Eion Johnston FRPS

The Life Room, 23B Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QQ

Tuesday 11th   –  Sunday 16th September 2018  (open 10.30 – 17.30)

From Berlin 1945 by Eion Johnston

Award-winning photographer Eion Johnston, FRPS,  who lives in Edinburgh, has visited Berlin regularly over the past thirty years observing its architectural heritage, past and present.  This two part exhibition captures a snapshot of a crumbling building damaged during 1945 and the remaining fragment of the Berlin Wall. These are more than just photographs – these are artistically crafted compositions to reflect, through hindsight and contemporary viewpoint, the aftermath of a city at war.

From Berlin 1945, Eion Johnston

Through a series of panels, Berlin 1945 depicts a stone wall, punctured with bullet holes and blasts of shrapnel which pierced the fabric of the building.  With extraordinary juxtaposition and layering of black and white photographic images, here too we see the ghosts of war captured like a classical sculptured frieze, human figures frozen in mid-movement, representing aspects of comfort, hope, despair and death in their war torn and destroyed city.

The main focus for Ancient Greek artists was to depict ultimate beauty and harmony, the physicality of man, his Olympic strength and endeavour in sport and in battle.   With extraordinary vision, Eion Johnston has replicated the stylistic, athletic pose and poise of classic sculptures with images of slim, toned models in Berlin today. The background has a grainy textured quality which emphasises a forgotten, faded sense of place and time.   One or two people viewing these photographs were convinced that these were real, historic decorative friezes carved on a wall in Berlin.

From Eion Johnston

What is most moving about combining the bullet blasted stone with modern life studies is that the figures represent both the citizens who suffered and died during World War II and also young Berliners today, surrounded by memories still present within the ruins of the past.

From The Wall, Eion Johnston

The second part of the showcase, The Wall follows a similar artistic format whereby life studies of models have been placed against the stark grey concrete of the Berlin Wall.  About a kilometre has been preserved as a valuable historic monument, a living symbol of the physical and political divisions between East and West Berlin, 1961 – 1989.  Now partly destroyed, strips of steel supports are visible which gives the impression of prison bars holding back the male figures, viewed from behind, as if trapped against a cell wall, while another has his arms out stretched as if to represent the Crucifiction.

From The Wall, Eion Johnston

This dual perspective of Berlin in Stone reflecting the city’s tragic heritage, presents re-imagined classical mural iconography with contemporary vision which is simply breathtaking in its power and poignancy.

A selection of photographs from Berlin 1945 was submitted to the Royal Photographic Society last year, for which Eion Johnston proudly received the award of  “Fellowship of the Year, 2017”.  A most prestigious honour in recognition of this memorable and masterly collection.

Colonsay Gin from Wild Thyme Spirits captures its wild Hebridean sense of place – in a bottle

“From the lone shieling of the misty island,  Mountains divide us, and the waste of the seas

Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland, And we in dreams behold the Hebrides”.  

Canadian Boat Song, 1829

The tranquil, timeless beauty of the Hebridean Islands, Scotland

There are few more romantic, beguiling and bewitching destinations than the Highlands and Islands, rich in ancient history and natural scenic beauty. Listed in “1,000 Places to See before you Die” by Patricia Schultz, the Scottish Hebrides should be on your Bucket list.

Plan an island hopping Cruise on board the luxurious floating country house, Hebridean Princess, on one of the charming Majestic Line boats,  or explore independently with your car, bike or on foot by CalMac Ferry.

The Cal Mac Ferry from Oban to Colonsay

From Oban it’s just a two hour crossing to reach Colonsay, located between Mull and Islay, an unspoilt peaceful haven of craggy heather-wrapped hills, wild goats, abundant flora, woodland, a quasi tropical garden and stunning white sand beaches.  Just around eight miles long and three miles wide, island life and work revolves around sheep farming, oyster and lobster fishing, arts, crafts, honey-making and tourism with a hotel and self catering holiday accommodation.

Seeking a taste of the Good Life, in August 2016 Finlay and Eileen Geekie, left their well established home in Oxfordshire and moved to this tiny Hebridean island of around 135 residents.  They had both spent childhood holidays in the Western Isles and then brought their own children here too, such that they had always dreamt about escaping the rat race to live on a Scottish island.

But what work could they do in this remote community?

Gin Entrepreneurs

Inspired by the modern day Gin Craze and the fact that 70% of gin consumed in the UK is distilled in Scotland, with pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit, the Geekies spent a year researching and developing a business plan and then the task of concocting the recipe.

Perfecting the art of the artisan distiller, Wild Thyme Spirits was born.

Their small batch Colonsay Gin is described as a classic London Dry style rich in juniper flavour blended with carefully selected botanicals including angelica root, calamus root, coriander, orris, liquorice and orange peel.

I followed the suggested serve and had my first taste of Colonsay Gin with Fever Tree premium Tonic poured over the rocks in a large tumbler, with a slice of orange. On the nose,  the neat gin has a subtle earthy scent, which is delicately transformed when sipped as a G&T.

Colonsay Gin with sweet orange or green chilli

There is certainly a well crafted, complex flavour, bittersweet at first and then a spicy, salty taste on the tongue derived from the coriander and ginger-based calamus root.  Ice cold with the effervescent tonic, this dry as a bone gin is exceedingly refreshing, the fresh orange reflecting the tasty tang of sweet citrus notes. To create more of a contemporary cocktail, you can also try an innovative garnish – a slice of green chilli to draw out the aromatic botanical spices with fiery gusto.

A colourful Celtic folk tale has been imbued within the creation of  Colonsay Gin.  The Gaelic name of the Geekie’s island home is Tign na Uruisg which translates as Home of the Spirit. So they developed a story of the legendary Alva, a red-haired supernatural Sprite whose vivacious image illustrates the artistic label on each bottle, the inspiration of Wild Thyme Spirits.

Alva, the Celtic Spirit of Colonsay Gin

On the nearby island of Islay, Laphroaig is a most distinctive whisky, distilled right on the seashore. The 10 year old single malt is described poetically as “Peat reek, soft oak, craggy coastline, screeching gulls.”  Likewise, Colonsay Gin embraces the heritage and wild beauty of its rugged land and sea, the fresh, pure salt sea air of the island encapsulated as a poignant aroma in a glass.

The Gin Lover’s Retreat on Colonsay

Gin Lover’s Retreat

 So why not visit Colonsay to find out more the gin’s spiritual home?.  Finlay and Eileen Geekie suggest that you leave the car behind and take the ferry over to Scalasaig where you will be met at the pier for the start of your getaway escape at their beautifully designed Guesthouse. Expect a chill out weekend of outdoor adventures, scenic seascapes and relaxation combined with gourmet meals and a unique gin tasting experience.

Their “Bar” offers no less than 200 gins from around the world and, of course, the opportunity to sample their artisan Colonsay Gin.  Wild Thyme Spirits has also created Red Snapper, a gin-based Bloody Mary, a Bramble liqueur and an alcohol lite Gin Solas.

The rocky cliffs, grassy machair and sandy beaches are a natural habitat for seals, otters and abundant bird life – kittiwakes, cormorants and guillemots with the chance to see a golden eagle.  A destination for artists, photographers, watersports, hill climbing and golfing too.  At the Scalasaig Pier, there’s a gallery (knitwear, arts and crafts), and visitor centre while the grounds of Colonsay House has a woodland garden featuring rare flora and  rhododendrons.

Kiloran Bay, Colonsay

Year round there are Art, Music and Book Festivals through the seasons: from Wednesday 10th to 24th October 2018, the Colonsay Food and Drink Festival celebrates the fine local produce, harvested, fished, grown, brewed and distilled here.  As natural as the island itself.

If you are a keen mixologist, here is the recipe for a special cocktail entitled “Kiloran Waves” which certainly captures the essence of the sea splashing over the sand.

50ml Colonsay Gin, 1 tsp Greengage Jam, 20ml Seaweed and tea syrup,* 5ml Smoky Scotch  Whisky (e.g. Islay Malt), 25ml Lime juice, 1 Egg white

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of salt, spritz with twist of lime and decorate with an edible flower.   *To make the syrup: add 1tsp loose leaf breakfast tea and 1 sheet (2.2g) Nori seaweed as well as 500ml caster sugar to 500ml of hot, not boiling, water. Dissolve the sugar and leave to infuse for 10 minutes before straining.

And on a final note, Colonsay Gin won a Silver Medal at the Global Gin Masters 2017.   Cheers.!

Wild Thyme Spirits – Information, Ordering and Stockists

www.wildthymespirits.com

Email:  wildthymespirits@btinternet.com

Gin Lovers Retreat:  www.wildthymespirits.com/gin-lovers-retreat/the-experience/

 

A fresh, new look for Lancers Brasserie celebrating its fine Indian heritage in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

The Bengal Lancers

The Bengal Lancers, the Indian Regiment during the British Raj was founded around 1803 when the East India company required an army of native horseman to protect British trade interests in India.  The son of a Lieutenant Colonel, James Skinner, born of mixed British/Indian race with Scottish ancestry, was given the task of recruiting soldiers for the Regiment first named “Skinners Horse” or the Yellow Boys due to their uniform.

Lancers Brasserie in Stockbridge, Edinburgh commemorates the pioneering life of Abdhul Samad Choudhury, a hard working cook in the Bengal Lancers – as a Pacifist he would ride backwards into battle.  His son then ran a Biryani House in East Bengal. With an adventurous spirit, Abdhul’s grandson Bodrul Hussain  left his village on the Barak River and travelled first to Paris and then Edinburgh, where in 1985 he opened this Indian Restaurant.

Thirty three years on, time for a decorative face lift and revamped, modernised menu.  The design across two rooms combines royal blue plush fabrics, banquette seating, basket cane bentwood chairs, rose and beech wood, brass and chrome gilt, decorative lamps with woven cane also used in the framed artwork.

Royal Blue and Gold design

Around the plain walls, perhaps there could be  the addition of colourful illustrations of the smart horsemen of the Bengal Lancers to reflect the family’s Indian heritage.

Comfortable booth  corner table for 2 or 4

Start the evening with an aperitif – there’s a fine list of Cocktails and Spirits to suit all tastes. My partner Ken selected the ’85 Old Fashioned, served here since day one, (Glenfiddich whisky, orange and angostura bitters), garnished with a strawberry rather than the expected orange twist.

Central Bar with Stools for an Aperitif

While studying the menu, I sipped a Pomegranate Martini, (Edinburgh Gin, Cointreau with lemon and pink Pomegranate juice). Alternatively, Lancers Royale (cherry brandy and prosecco), Mojito and Daiquiri.

The real taste of the British Raj is of course a classic G&T with a varied selection of brands including Jin-Dea from the Goomtree Estate, India and made from First Flush Darjeeling Tea, a floral Himalayan black leaf ‘Champagne of Tea’.

This lemon & grapefruit citrus based gin is infused with aromatic spices, peach,  apricots, coriander, ginger, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and angelica.  Jin-Dea is ideal for all highball drinks,  G&T’s, Tom Collins and a Classic Martini with a twist of grapefruit.

“I am a gin person and this is the best. I had it in Scotland in a gin and tonic and it was the most delicious and memorable G&T I ever drank.” Mary, Texas

A choice of beers too, from Scottish Brewdog Punk IPA to Kingfisher – The Real Taste of India – on draught for the perfect accompaniment to a spicy curry.  Mocktails, non-alcoholic beer and soft drinks for drivers and non-drinkers.

So to the food:  A diverse choice of Nastha (Starters) from classic vegetarian Pakora and Samosa for a tasty bite, Sheik Kebab (minced lamb), and King Prawn Bombay Street Tacos. Mallu Fried Chicken is from Kerala – deep fried marinated chicken tossed in curry leaves served with peppers and onions.

Prawn Bombay Streeet Tacos

Ken selected Okra Fries while I ordered a favourite – Squid.  I love to eat these crisp calamari rings with my fingers but a drizzled coating of spicy masala and mayo softened and spoilt the batter. The panko-coated Okra was presented the same way. A little jug of the sauce or garlic aioli served on the side would be better to maintain the texture.  While tasty, the portion size of both dishes was extremely generous, each suitable for three or four people.

With our meal we sipped the House Red Wine, a French Merlot, giving a ripe juicy fruit balance for aromatic spicy food.  The House White is a French Sauvignon Blanc while the Wine list ranges from Argentina and Spain to Australia and New Zealand, as well as Prosecco & Champagne.  A glass of Prosecco might be popular or offer individual bottles.

Carnivores will relish a diverse range of classic and innovative main courses divided between Tandoori, featuring chicken, lamb chops, beef ribs, marinated for 24 hours in a ginger and garlic masala paste for a rich flavour.

Tandoori bone chicken

Under the title Handi Se are hearty curry dishes, such as Lahori Haleem – slow cooked goat meat cooked in lentils, barley and spices, and the Viceroy’s Jalfrezi, chicken thighs with onions and peppers.   A traditional Goan dish is Venison Vindaloo (the game is sourced locally from Bower’s butcher on Raeburn Place), and a choice of Biryani with either spiced meat, fish or vegetables cooked in layers with rice, street-food style.

Vegetarian curries are served either as a main course or as a side accompaniment to your meat and seafood curries, such as Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower), Sag Aloo, (spinach and potato) or Dhal – the staple of the Officer’s Mess.

These small portions of vegetarian curries are also ideal for sharing like Indian Tapas. Ken and I selected three – Katti Baigain, Sag Paneer and Tarka Dahl as well as a Peshwari Naan and Pilau Rice.

Perfectly cooked rice

Two well heated blue flower pattered plates were placed on the table and we were soon surrounded by a selection of small bowls: we thoroughly enjoyed the combination of softly roasted  sweet aubergines, spinach and creamy paneer cheese, and classic lentil dahl.  The freshly baked, nicely charred Naan bread was again a generous size but quickly devoured along with the perfectly cooked, light fluffy grains of rice.

Four small vegetarian dishes to share would probably suit two hungry diners, depending on the number of starters, sides and desserts ordered.

An Indian Feast to share with friends at Lancers!

A feast it certainly was and we finished the wine at leisure without indulging in a sweet treat such as a Mango sorbet and Luca’s Ice-cream, or Gulab Jamun, Indian doughnuts with rose syrup.  Or finish with a whisky, brandy or liqueur with coffee.

Open seven days from 5pm – 11pm, the service is casual and relaxed by a front of house team of five waiters under the Restaurant Manager Derek Young with Mukta Hussain overseeing his chefs in the kitchen.

The re-imagined new style from decor to cuisine Lancers brings a fresh wind of change to this well established family business to complement the appetising range of international restaurants – Japanese, South American, Chinese, Italian, Scottish et al. nearby.

Abdhul Samad Choudhury of Skinner’s Horse would surely be proud of his legacy as an Indian chef which has been carried on by Bodrul and Mukta in the Foodie urban village of Stockbridge beside the Water of Leith.

What do other diners say?

“ I went for the venison vindaloo – delicious and the Gulab Jamun dessert was excellent!   Will be back.”

“The reason we decided to dine here was it was Sunday, a perfect day for a pint and a curry and when there is a great Indian restaurant on your doorstep, why not support local”.

 “Really nice atmosphere and the staff were friendly and efficient. Very impressed and will be back.”

Lancers Brasserie

5 Hamilton Place. Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5BA
Tel: 0131 315 4335

http://www.lancersbrasserie.co.uk

 

An Indian Feast at Lancers!