Art For Art’s Sake

The damp cold short days post festive season can be dull. I had not been tempted to go to the seasonal market and funfair in Princes Street. Bryn and Nye went on the Big Wheel on a windy day and reported the gondolas swaying in the wind when up at the top. The please do not swing the gondolas sign wasn’t read by the weather.

Shane and I ventured to the Dovecot Gallery, the knitwear and special knitting exhibition were pricey and Shane was relieved I decided not to fork out, but the cafe was open and that suited him. The tapestry gallery was still shut so I thought I would keep that for another day. Crafting is hard to make a living from if you need a decent hourly rate. Nonetheless when I think I could make it myself, I am not tempted to buy, despite it being unique designer wear.The fingerless gloves were  chunky so a quick knit. Some luxurious cashmere scarves were more of a lure but I have many scarves and a lot of unused wool, in two different stashes, one on the boat and one in Edinburgh.


Fingerless mitts at £120 a pair

On the way home, it was getting dark and we had the pleasure of a bright display at the national library.We don’t know how recently this arrived. We were alerted by other people stopping to take photos in the crowded pavement where there is scaffolding. The other side of the road was more attractive for walking but better viewed from this side.

Lit up figures on The National Library of Scotland

For January it has been mild but a bit wet and windy, so outings have to be selected carefully. I made another trip along the canal and this time I did see boats, not kayaks or narrow boats but two rowing “fours”. We stepped aside to let their coaches cycle past. On the Severn the rowing club had their tutors in a nearby boat but on the canal it was easier to be heard from the towpath. The Edinburgh towpath can get quite crowded, so for a quiet walk I chose a week day.

In Princes Street the market and fair have now been taken down, Shane and I thought we would take a look into the galleries on the Mound but on a Saturday they were very crowded, another spot to be revisited on a weekday. We returned on a Monday to a short term exhibition that had caught our eye with a massive pink structure which appeared to be a body part but we weren’t sure what. It turned out to be a pair of lungs, each one much larger than me, which inflated and deflated.

There was a nudity warning at the start but doubtful it applied to internal organs. Once inside, we still weren’t that sure which picture required the warning since The Three Graces didn’t have one and classical art is full of nudes and no warnings. One or two had swearing in the title, but there were no language warnings. This one might suggest nudity in the title but was fully clothed.

Taps Aff by Emma Booth….a clothed figure on the tap of the world

We explored the exhibits, all by different artists. It was pleasing to see signs saying that phography was encouraged at the exhibition by the society of Scottish artists (ssa). I am no connoisseur and not all the styles spoke to me but there was imagination, beauty and emotion to be had. There were some exhibits influenced by the pandemic (like the lungs, which were entitled, Suffering).

Not nudes, not throwing stones, in glass houses

I liked the word play of the Scottish/Norwegian group  work and was intrigued to see that the travelling exhibition was going to North Uist, where my dad came from, as well as Lewis and Dundee.

Shane was by now itching for a coffee break so I had one last look in a room he had already looked in and he showed me his preferred exhibit with a cycle chain and feet representing endangered species. Every so often they moved round.



I took a last picture before heading off for a coffee. The bust of Victor Hugo was pertinent to our post coffee task of heading to a building society to help with sorting out the administration of Shane’s dad’s estate since he was also called Victor Hugo. Nice to mix business with pleasure. The building society have been very helpful. Shane was attended to by the manager who waived an administration fee.

Victor Hugo – no relation

While waiting at the bank I realised my phone was missing (and also my credit card with it) and hightailed it back to the cafe, where I found someone was already seated at the table we had vacated, so I started to ask if he had seen my …. and he greeted me with “I’ve handed it in.” I must have looked like a crazed panicking person as two staff members waved to me and beckoned me over. One retrieved the phone behind the counter and passed it to me another, who had been clearing tables, gestured to me that I should keep it in a zipped pocket. I realised from her voice and very clear visual communication that she was deaf, so I demonstrated that I was putting it in a zip up compartment of my bag, and thanked her in BSL and she signed her thanks back. All in all we met a lot of helpful people, and it really made for a successful trip.

Another outing was to the Water of Leith visitor centre. The cafe was one good reason to go and I noticed the Water was pretty high and fast flowing. From our seat in the cafe, we could see a cascade of water falling into the river from the canal aqueduct above. I had been told there was a display of wildlife pictures and found them, not on display in the main cafe area, but in the corridor to the toilets. There were two splendid kingfisher pictures looking green in one and blue in the other. There were some I didn’t recognise so took pictures to try to check them out at home. I would love to catch a glimpse of this sight. I used the merlin app photo identifier to find its name.

Framed Photo of female Merganser and chicks at Water of Leith Visitor Centre.

We had just managed to see the ssa exhibition before its last day and I wanted to catch the Turner watercolour exhibition too. This is a bequest to the National Gallery that has the condition attached, which says it can only be exhibited in the month of January. I was pleased to meet up with Lorna and her mum for a tour of the Turners, and of the permanent collection. Lorna is much more talented and knowledgeable about art and was able to share insights about technique with us. Plus she took excellent photos! We had time for a quick tour of the gardens and a coffee and scone too, which were delicious, though I was disappointed by the management decision to not allow us to sit by the window, because we were not ordering lunch – it was after three pm and nobody came to sit in the window seat while we were there.

Shane and I revisited the Dovecot Studios when the upstairs tapestry gallery was open and having had mention of North Uist, the place of my dad’s childhood, I was surprised to see a piece named, Mallaig, where my mother grew up. The gallery is housed in an old swimming pool and is very bright even on the very dull day we visited.

I haven’t written a New Year Resolutions list, but if I had included development of my appreciation of art, then I would be well above my average gallery intake in the first fortnight. I had written a list of knitting projects to be getting on with and have already deviated and added an extra one as my friend sent me a pattern she had written and I was doing some test knitting, and giving her feedback. They were quick to do; I learned a new technique; they have been appreciated on the Women on Barges group and Nye wants them, so that has been a successful addition to my craft world. It all takes time to produce the design and pattern. My friend plans to offer the pattern for free.