Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Tuesday 28 February 2017

An interlude in Edinburgh

We've just got back from a long weekend in Edinburgh. We travelled by train, luckily missing Storm Doris and cancelled trains by a day. The mountains were still dusted with the previous day's snowfall.

Below you can see the roof of Waverley station with the grand monuments on the top of Calton Hill beyond. Our hotel was just around the far side of the hill.

A short bracing walk takes you to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the city.

One of the first places we searched out (knowing it also had a nice café) was Dovecot Studios, here in a former Victorian bath house is a tapestry weaving studio. Our visit didn't coincide with being able to watch the weavers at work, but we were able to look at work in progress from the gallery.

The largest piece in progress was a massive tufted rug, the wool yarn is fired using a tufting gun, through a canvas fabric. This makes a dense pile on the other side. This rug designed by Victoria Morton is destined for a new performing arts centre at the Perse School in Cambridge.

Late on Friday afternoon there was just time to pop into the Scottish National Gallery before it closed, it deserved a longer visit as there are so many spectacular paintings. But the bell rang so we had to leave.

On Saturday morning we walked down to the Old Town for a tour of Gladstone's Land, a 17th century tenement house now owned by the National Trust for Scotland who have furnished it with original household furniture and accessories ... you have to imagine the grime, smells and noise.

Our lunch was at the excellent café at the grand Victorian Gothic Scottish National Portrait Gallery, before seeing the BP Portrait Award 2016 exhibition. I recommend a visit if you're in Edinburgh, although you can see some the paintings online they really don't show the variety of scale and media. 

As it wasn't raining, we decided to walk through the New Town to the Botanic Garden. I spotted a very smart mini-library with roof garden and then noticed we were in Scotland Street ... so maybe not surprising at all! (I don't think that No. 44 actually exits.)

Sunday morning and the sun was shining ... we set off on a bracing walk past Holyrood Palace and up the path towards Arthur's Seat, the rugged volcanic crag that stands over the city. But the weather soon deteriorated to rain and 40mph gusts (and I was wearing my leather knee boots rather than walking boots) so we took the 'easy' low level route. But it gave us a flavour of the 'mountain in the city' landscape.

The rain had definitely set in so we headed to the National Museum of Scotland which is in a fabulous building. We  joined lots of people who were appreciating a great indoor space that's free to visit. The huge galleried Victorian hall provides a wonderful area to promenade around. And the modern extension is a maze of intriguing spaces. There is also a roof garden, but we were content with viewing the rooftops of the city through the windows.

While at the Dovecot Studios we'd seen a reproduction of a painting of trees, and here it is again in the Museum, but this time it is a large tapestry that was woven at Dovecot. The design is based on a painting 'Large Tree Group' by Victoria Crowe, which features shepherd Jenny Armstrong. The colours of the yarn are all natural undyed wools from different breeds of sheep and were sourced from 70 different flocks across the UK as well as St Kilda and the Falklands. I've found an interesting programme which includes Victoria Crowe discussing her relationship to the landscape she depicts with Andrew Marr, well worth a listen. 

We were enjoying exploring the Museum and had found the Lewis chess pieces, but we didn't want to miss visiting Edinburgh Castle. So we braved the wind and rain. At times it was difficult to remain standing! Inside the castle the howling wind added to the atmosphere. 

And then the sun came out!

We found a quiet and cosy café at the top of Jenners department store, where tea and toasted tea cakes soon revived us. Then I treated myself to a pair of black suede ankle boots in the sale.

Our train home wasn't until 2pm, so we had time for a guided tour inside the new Scottish Parliament building. It was interesting to see behind the scenes and how the intriguingly shaped building contains practical work spaces ... it's well worth booking a tour.

Time to get the train, we'd paid a modest amount to upgrade our tickets to First Class so enjoyed being served lunch, tea and drinks as we sped through the countryside under dramatic storm clouds and 6 hours later we were back home.

Tomorrow is 1st March, in a couple of weeks this blog will be 10 years old! A whole decade of blogging. I've toyed with the idea of closing my blog, changing its name, or starting a different blog. But I think I'll leave things as they are and still blog whenever I feel like it. In recent weeks I've enjoyed posting on Instagram more than blogging, it's like a mini-blog post. Starting tomorrow, I'm planning a series of painterly Instagram posts through Lent, you can find me @celiahartartist