Monday, 20 October 2014

John Byrne and Contemporary Artists

I was very lucky on Sunday to be child/hubby free so that I could meet a friend in town who wanted to see some art exhibitions. He was a very old colleague who contacted me out of the blue which was a nice surprise and having the art was a nice way to avoid any awkward pauses while we caught up. He cracked me up as he kept stopping on stairs mid conversation - it was bizarre and contraire to my always-moving self.

We met at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street, Edinburgh. This is about 5 minutes from where I work but I've never managed to get there - my loss as the building is a neo-gothic wonder. The exterior lobby area is breath taking- with stunning stained glass windows and a painted ceiling. Like a dolt, I didn't take any photos.
I had been meaning to go for ages to see the John Byrne Sitting Ducks exhibition - and luckily managed to catch it on the last day. My favourite artworks were one of Billy Connolly and another Tilda Swinton. There were also many self portraits and family portraits - fascinating to see how he portrayed himself, his mrs and children. I wish I had had time to look at each in detail.

Other fascinating areas of the gallery were the library with it's phrenology exhibition and the Remembering the Great War exhibition. I need to look into Field Marshall Douglas Haig who's strategies led to so many deaths and the poppy appeal which began life at the Haig Fund to help ex-servicemen. 

After a wander around the gift shop, we went in search of lunch. Ending up in Rose Lane North for a non-spectacular lunch. But it filled our bellies and we were energised enough to make our way to the 
Scottish National Gallery where I wanted to see the Generation - an exhibition of contemporary artists. This is a great museum to visit as the two buildings house a wide variety of art so there is bound to be something for everyone in there. And it's accessible being just 5 mins walk from Edinburgh Waverly Station, in the pretty Princes Street Gardens. They had a bit of a shift around so some paintings that were housed in the lower gallery are now in the main one. I like seeing them in new settings. However, I did struggle with the paintings that are hung up high as the lights hit them so you need to move around to actually view them - not easy when it's busy. There is also a very loud hum in the main gallery which was off-putting. The gallery is pretty bonkers as it's actually two buildings connecting by an underground passage. So without realising it, you are in the other building. Luckily there are some red and blue dots to follow. I have to admit that I didn't really warm to the Generation exhibition - nothing interested me but there are so many paintings in the museum that I love and always am astonished they own Rembrandts that it was fine. I recommend checking out the North of the Border paintings especially the one by Peter Graham and the Gainsborough - the Honorable Mrs Graham who was a beauty and had the most fabulous dress on. I'm really looking forward to the fashion exhibition due to start mid November. 

So there we go - my soul is somewhat replenished after what has been an awful few weeks. And if you read my foodie blog, you'll know that I finished the day with a lovely haul of sweets. All in all lovely ...though I was a tad guilty when I got home as Mr Plummy has caught yet another cold :(. 

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