Explorers at the Library: Edinburgh Art Festival families programme

This year the Edinburgh Art Festival’s Explorers families programme comes to Central Library for free weekly creative art making sessions suitable for ages 8-13. These sessions are inspired by the EAF artist commissions programme and the ‘Making of the Future’ theme. Join us weekly or drop in for a one-off session to creatively re-imagine your city.

“Tower” by Toby Patterson, Dunfermline 2014

Each session will look at a different artist and include 2D and 3D arts activities such as building a miniature bothy inspired by artist Bobby Niven, designing a modernist city after artist Toby Paterson and creating inflatable giant flower sculptures inspired by artist duo Walker and Bromwich.

All sessions will be held in the George Washington Room within the Central Library

Thu 6 July 2-4pm
Explorers at the Library: Walker and Bromwich
Create your own inflatable sculptures and model dragons inspired by Walker and Bromwich’s Dragon of Profit and Private Ownership.

Thu 13 July 2-4pm
Explorers at the Library: Bobby Niven
Design and build your own miniature bothys and dens inspired by Bobby Niven’s Palmhouse.

Thu 20 July 2-4pm
Explorers at the Library: Shannan Te Ao
Make musical instruments and write your own musical score inspired by Shannan Te Ao’s use of Maori songs and proverbs.

Thu 3 August 2-4pm
Explorers at the Library: Toby Paterson
Make your own 3D collage of a fantasy building, drawing on Paterson’s modernist architectural influences.

Thu 10 August 2-4pm
Explorers at the Library: The Making of the Future
Design and build a miniature installation in the library, of a future Edinburgh city centre inspired by the “grandfather of town planning”, Patrick Geddes.

In celebration of the children’s work the outcomes of each workshop will be exhibited in the Children’s Library for the last week of the festival, 21-27 August.

These sessions are free and all materials are included. Booking is recommended, but not essential. To book call  0131 242 8040 or visit www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk

Yarn Bombing Ratho

Ratho residents awoke to a colourful sight last week, as the village was transformed into a woolly wonderland! Ratho Library’s guerrilla knitters have been secretly working hard for the last few months on woollen lengths of many patterns, and have created hundreds of brightly coloured pom poms.

Photograph of Yarn bomb

Ratho Yarn Bombs

The Ratho Library knitting group were helped by knitters at Sighthill Library and by many other members of the community, eventually producing enough material to create cosy trees, decorate the fences and plant a field of pom poms! Children from the village helped with the decoration, and local teenagers have agreed to keep an eye on the knitted creations, so that the efforts of our knitters can be seen by all. Ratho Gala Day, which was on Saturday 10th June, is a day where Ratho residents celebrate the fantastic spirit of community that exists in their village, and through the yarn bombing efforts, our library borrowers have played their part in ensuring that Ratho is looking it’s best for this special day.

sun water oil silver

The Art Library exhibition for June is sun water oil silver by Charly Murray & Javier Ternero.

Charly Murray is Scottish and a painter with a background in book design.

Javier Ternero is a self-taught photographer who aged sixteen, began printing old family negatives found at home, back in Seville, Spain.

Both Charly and Javier have workshops in Leith’s Coburg House a converted Victorian grain warehouse with studios for over 80 artists. For this exhibition, Javier has looked at Scottish landscape and buildings that lend themselves to Victorian printing processes. Charly has concentrated on the plants that grow nearby these buildings to create cyanotypes. Both regulars of the Art and Design library, they find it an invaluable source of information and pleasure. Visit the exhibition and discover the treasure trove of the Art Library for yourself.

sun water oil silver runs from 2 – 29 June 2017.

 

 

 

 

In the Ink Dark

a dance and poem
made from memory and from conversation

In the Ink Dark is a new project from artist Luke Pell and collaborators. Throughout May and June a series of conversations and encounters with different people in Leith and Edinburgh will lead to a week of live dance performances at unique spaces across the city including Central Library and McDonald Road Library.

Performed by an eclectic group of dance and performance artists with an original music composition from Scott Twynholm, In the Ink Dark collects and explores experiences of loss and landscape, memory and materiality through dance, design and poetry.

Luke draws upon his own and others stories to make objects, dances and installations that can only exist because of different people coming together to listen and to share. This project invites people from all walks of life to talk with him, to share, reflect and celebrate something they have loved and lost. In the Ink Dark is an immersive project with different moments and modes of participation, an accumulative poem and choreography – for live and virtual space – that can only be made by the many people it meets with.

Drawings and photographs will be made as part of every performance of In the Ink Dark. The performance is immersive with seating provided, lasting approximately 1 hour with no interval.

Performances take place at:
McDonald Road Library Monday 19 June at 6 – 7pm
Central Library Thursday 22 June at 7 – 8pm.

Book online via Edinburgh Reads on Eventbrite.

Visit the In the Ink Dark website to find out more about the project and further performances.

 

Danish design at the Central Library

May’s exhibition in the Art and Design Library is a something a little bit different.  This month we are showcasing the work of Danish artist Mette Fruergaard-Jensen who creates boxes in metal, wood and resin.

Mette originally trained as a potter, running her own pottery workshop for 25 years. A move to Scotland in 2000 however saw her embrace a new medium and she began to make boxes –

‘In my studio in Coburg House in Leith, Edinburgh I make lidded boxes in wood, metal and resin. My boxes are sculptural. They are all functional, although they are not made for any specific use. I love the silent language of form and materials. Here for this exhibition in the Art and Design Library I am also showing images of how I work and what materials I use. I am especially happy to show my work in the Art and Design Library, as I have spent a great time there looking in books.’

Come along and see Mette’s beautiful work from the 3rd-30th May.

 

James Grant and the artist’s imagination

From last September, one of our postgraduate interns from the University of Edinburgh, Joseph Massey, has been working with a large and unwieldy item from Central Library’s Special Collections. This is the sketchbook of the 19th century Scotsman James Grant, filled to the brim with paintings of historic Scottish buildings and some unexpected surprises. Having gone through each of the 383 artworks inside, recording their content and condition, Joseph has now arranged two separate exhibitions with Grant’s beautiful images at their heart. ‘Edinburgh’s Church on the Run! The journey of Trinity College Church, 1460 to present day’ is on display from 4 – 27 April in the Central Library’s Music Library, and explores the history of a forgotten architectural gem. ‘James Grant: the artist’s imagination’ is our new Capital Collections exhibition, focusing on Grant’s artistic development and creativity.

Few people could claim to have had as prolific and wide-ranging a career as the Edinburgh-born artist, novelist, historian and architect James Grant (1822-1887). Grant’s output was immense, but it all had a common purpose – to celebrate Scotland’s historic architectural achievements and to drive the country forward to create new masterpieces.

However, Grant’s early experiences in Scotland were not positive. Grant was only a child when his mother Mary Anne Watson died in 1833 and his father, Captain John Grant of the Gordon Highlanders, immediately took James and his two brothers to live with him in his Canadian barracks. Mary Anne had been a capable artist herself, and Grant kept two of his mother’s paintings for the rest of his life, putting them inside his own sketchbook. One of her paintings is of Craigmillar Castle, showing a mother and her child walking in the foreground. Perhaps Mary Anne took her son James to see the castle. Grant later produced a number of beautiful paintings of Craigmillar Castle, perhaps with distant memories of his mother in mind.

Craigmillar Castle by Mary Anne Watson

It was while living in Canada that Grant’s own artistic talent began to emerge. And, fittingly, he started with a painting of the fort’s architecture. Fort Townsend, based on the east coast island of Newfoundland, was the headquarters of the British Newfoundland garrison and the Grant family lived there at Barrack Square. In 1836, when Grant was thirteen or fourteen years old, he stood on the balcony of the east building and painted a picture of the barracks opposite. As an adult Grant painted more pictures of the place that had been his home for six years.

Fort Townsend, St John’s, Newfoundland

Grant’s family returned to Britain in 1839 and he soon joined an architect’s office in Edinburgh. He spent his twenties travelling around Scotland to see as many of its historic castles, palaces, houses and churches as possible – and it is these beautiful pictures that fill most of his sketchbook. Grant’s artistic imagination extended to drawing historic ruins as they would have looked in their heyday, and the most impressive of these is a series of paintings made in 1848 of Craigmillar Castle, where he has imagined how the castle would look with all of its roofs restored. Craigmillar had a number of dramatic connections to members of the Stuart royal family, including Mary Queen of Scots, which was probably why Grant found it so interesting.

Craigmillar Castle – ‘restored’

Grant also wanted to construct buildings of his own design, and the sketchbook contains his designs for two churches, a cathedral and a cemetery gateway – though unfortunately none of them were constructed. They all show his love of medieval gothic architecture, with an abundance of elaborate carved stonework, beautiful window tracery and pinnacles. Grant was also inspired by the work of his contemporaries in both Scotland and continental Europe, where the gothic style was experiencing a revival. Grant’s 1846 design for the west front of a cathedral is one of the largest and most detailed works in his sketchbook. Scotland had no medieval cathedrals as elaborate as this – Grant wanted to bring something new and exciting to his native country.

Cathedral design

It was this love of gothic architecture which drove Grant to make a number of images of Trinity College Church, built in the 1460s and originally located below Calton Hill. In the 1840s the North British Railway company purchased the site of the church so that they could demolish it and make room for Waverley Station. Grant immediately set to work, creating numerous images of the exterior and sculptural details inside, which included monkeys on the pillar capitals! Many other prominent Scotsmen, such as David Bryce, also painting the church and making suggestions for where it could be rebuilt. Some of the earliest photographs taken in Scotland show Trinity College Church before its demolition. Unfortunately the church was not rebuilt in its entirety – after leaving the stones sitting on Calton Hill for 20 years, there was only enough material left to rebuilt part of it, which can still be seen down Chalmers Close, off the Royal Mile.

Trinity College Church

Today Grant is best known for his three-volume series Old and New Edinburgh (1880-83), which traces the history of Edinburgh through its buildings. It is a fitting legacy for a man who devoted his life to Scotland’s architecture.

Joseph’s exhibitions expertly shine a light on the history of Trinity College Church and the work of James Grant:

Church on the run! The journey of Trinity College Church, 1460 to present day
4 – 27 April, Mezzanine, Central Library

James Grant: the artist’s imagination is available to view on Capital Collections.

 

The art of chromolithography!

The Central Library often takes interns or student placements who use our special collections as a focus for their studies. One such student is Becky Sparagowski who completed a project with us as part of her Masters coursework at the Centre for the History of the Book, Edinburgh University.

Becky’s area of interest was “The chromolithographed decorative design books of the Art & Design Library” and in this blog post she explains exactly what chromolithography is!

Becky selecting her research material

Have you ever thought about colour printing? It’s something that’s fairly commonplace now, but when it was first introduced it was revolutionary.

One of the first people to get colour printing – or chromolithography – right was Owen Jones, who is most famous for his design book The Grammar of Ornament (1856). This book set a high bar for chromolithography, and all the books that were published after it tried to meet that standard. While Jones did much work in ornamental design (he was an architect by profession), he is best remembered for his work in chromolithography and the dedication with which he improved the colour printing process.

After Jones’s work, though, colour printing took off, and artists all across

Chromolithograph “Cacatoës et magnolia, bordure. Souris blanches” from L’animal dans la decoration (The animal in decoration) by Maurice Pillard Verneuil & E. Lévy, 1897.

Europe used the medium to produce artistic prints, posters, and, of course, art and design books. The late 19th and early 20th centuries produced a huge number of books with chromolithographic prints, many of which are very intricate and complicated. The work done in these books is even more impressive when you know that in chromolithography, the colours are printed one at a time, making the detailed work in these books incredibly difficult to do!

Chromolithograph “Moresque no.1” from Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones, 1856

I recently sat down with the Art and Design Library’s wonderful collection of books with chromolithographic printing while working on a research project my MSc course in Book History and Material Culture at the University of Edinburgh. This collection of books – including The Grammar of Ornament – embodies everything that is noteworthy about chromolithography, from the detailed craftsmanship that goes into creating chromolithographic prints to the realisation of Victorian cultural values in the works themselves. They truly are an important – and beautiful – part of the history of the book.

The books can be consulted by contacting the Art & Design Library and you can explore some of Owen Jones’ beautiful prints in our online exhibition, Travel to Perfection: Owen Jones and The Alhambra on Capital Collections.