The Art and Design Library‘s October exhibition is entitled Works on Paper. From the 9th-30th October you’ll be able to see a series of watercolour paintings created by artist Eva Mitera, graduate of the University of Edinburgh, participant of the X Florence Biennale and curated by Dr Shih Mei Lee.

Eva works in both oils and watercolours, creating paintings focused on the themes of  natural and meteorological phenomena, landscape and images alternately abstract and realistic. This exhibition however focuses on Eva’s watercolours, which are on a smaller scale than her oil paintings, but are independent pieces in their own right, not studies for her larger works.

Eva enjoys the process of creating watercolours, especially the unpredictability of the result. She allows the colours to blend across the paper to emphasize rich bright hues and brush stokes. In her experiments with this medium she has also added dry pastel, crayons and ink to achieve impressions of reality or imaginary landscapes. Her works present a sensation of radiant energy and controlled frenzy.

 

 

 

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The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries: Robert Butchart

Robert Butchart held the post of Edinburgh City Librarian from 1942 until 1953. Mr Butchart had a particular interest in topographical prints of Old Edinburgh, and collected drawings by the likes of Bruce J. Home and engravings by John Ewbank. After Mr Butchart retired, he published a book in 1955 entitled, ‘Prints and Drawings of Edinburgh’, giving ‘A descriptive account of the collection in the Edinburgh Room of the Central Public Library’. Mr Butchart wrote with pride of the collection of prints and drawings held by the then Edinburgh Room which had been accumulated over the previous 25 years, claiming it ‘undoubtedly ranks as the finest collection in existence of topographical and historical prints of the City’.

In October 1982, Mr Butchart’s personal collection was presented to the Central Library by his daughter, Miss Jean Butchart. In this short film, she explains why she felt it appropriate that the majority of the prints from her father’s collection should be housed in the library where he had first become inspired by the subject.

The prints collection of the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection at Central Library has continued to grow since Mr Butchart’s tenure and you can now search many more hundreds of stunning images of Edinburgh from our collections on Capital Collections.

Read all the articles in this series of ‘The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries’:

George Washington Browne: architect

Andrew Carnegie: steelmaker and philanthropist

Henry Dyer, engineer, educationist and Japanophile

William McEwan: brewer and philanthropist

David Mather Masson: scholar and biographer

Thomas Ross: architect and antiquarian

Charles Boog Watson: local historian and antiquarian

The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries: Henry Dyer

Over the years, a number of individuals have helped shape Edinburgh City Libraries and our collections. In the next few days, in the run-up to the Heritage Awareness Day on 6 October, we’ll throw the spotlight on a few of these influential figures from our past and describe how their philanthropy helped our library collections evolve and grow in significance.
The Five Festivals - Spring FestivalWe start our series with arguably our most significant benefactor: Henry Dyer, engineer, educationist and Japanophile.

Henry Dyer was born in 1848 in the parish of Bothwell, Lanarkshire. In 1857 the family moved to Shotts where he received most of his schooling. From 1865 he was employed as an apprentice at James Aitken and Company’s foundry in Cranstonhill, Glasgow and while there he also attended classes at Anderson’s College (later Strathclyde University). He graduated from Glasgow University in 1873 with a degree in engineering. On the recommendation of his professor he was invited to become the Principal of the new Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo in 1873.

Greatly esteemed by the Japanese, his teaching methods were credited with assisting in the rapid industrialisation of Japan and in 1882 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (Third Class). Dyer returned to Scotland in 1882 bringing with him numerous art works and instruments. In Glasgow he continued to make a valuable contribution to engineering education and was awarded both an honorary DSc and LLD from the University of Glasgow.

Henry Dyer died on 25 September, 1918 at his home in Glasgow. After his death a substantial bequest was given to the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, which included papers relating to his roles as engineer and educator. It also included Japanese artworks and artefacts. He donated musical instruments to Glasgow Museums. In 1945 and 1955 Edinburgh City Libraries received two donations via his daughter Marie Ferguson Dyer.

336The Edinburgh City Libraries bequest consists of 50 loose Japanese woodblock prints, a number of bound woodblock printed volumes, painted scrolls and a collection of nineteenth century Japanese photographs, attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried. Much of the Dyer Collection is available to browse on Capital Collections (www.capitalcollections.org.uk) including several online exhibitions:

Get in touch if you’re interested to come into Central Library and see items from the Dyer Collection or any other material from our Special Collections. If you have archival material related to Edinburgh, Scotland or Scots abroad, and would like to help our collections continue to grow, contact eclis@edinburgh.gov.uk .

Read all the articles in this series of ‘The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries’:

George Washington Browne: architect

Robert Butchart: City Librarian

Andrew Carnegie: steelmaker and philanthropist

William McEwan: brewer and philanthropist

David Mather Masson: scholar and biographer

Thomas Ross: architect and antiquarian

Charles Boog Watson: local historian and antiquarian

Large-scale sketch of Edinburgh on display at Edinburgh Central Library

Visitors to Edinburgh Central Library will be able to gain a new perspective of their city as a huge, intricately detailed, ink-sketch of the city of Edinburgh goes on display.

Self-taught cityscape artist Carl Lavia, aka Sketch, and project partner photographer Lorna Le Bredonchel are on a country-wide mission: Carl is attempting to sketch, in large-scale, every single city within the UK – together they aim to exhibit each cityscape within its city and eventually to form one large exhibition of all the 69 artworks to be shown in several spaces throughout the UK. The Edinburgh cityscape is the latest in their ’69 Cities of The UK’ project.

Carl says: “Each artwork is a celebration for the people who live, work and simply love the city.”

The immense Edinburgh cityscape covers a radius of around 6 miles – as far North as Stockbridge, as far South as The Meadows, as far East as Holyrood Palace and as far West as the Murrayfield stadium – all the familiar landmarks are depicted plus the yet to be completed St James shopping centre.

Councillor Ian Perry, Education, Children and Families Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We’re delighted to be able to host Carl’s wonderful piece of work here in the Central Library – it truly is a sight to behold and I’m sure it will mesmerize many library-users during its time here.

“As one of the city’s prominent historical buildings, the Central Library itself features in the sketch, alongside the fantastic variety of architecture and attractions that span Edinburgh, and this piece provides a great new perspective.”

Project partner photographer Lorna Le Bredonchel says: “We hope that the Edinburgh cityscape shall be seen as an affectionate document of the city’s present time in history, hints at the indelible ties connecting people to places, a ‘sketched page’ in Edinburgh’s incredible and continually unfolding story.” 

Visit the website for prints and to follow The 69 Cities Project 

Sketch will be on display in the Central Library from 28th September 2017 until end of September 2018.

 

A library is more than a building of books…

‘A library is more than a building of books,’ the anonymous book sculptor wrote on the note attached to her first gift, a sculpture crafted from the pages of books and left anonymously in the Scottish Poetry Library.

These beautiful book sculptures are a love letter to libraries, and a celebration of the power of story. A paper egg at the foot of a swirling paper oak holds a jigsaw of words to form the Edwin Morgan poem, A Trace of Wings –  a poem which tells us that we see beauty in a flash, a glance, and then it is gone like a flash of a bunting’s wings.

The sixth paper book sculpture: Lost in a good book…

The book sculptures, however, remain a glimpse of beauty and generosity in a world which is so often hard and cynical. One gift depicts a reader lost in a forest of words, the trees cut from pages rising high behind her. What you do not see you can imagine – the deep blue sky in the background as night falls, the crackles and rustles and forest-y sounds which the lone reader is too absorbed to hear, the comforting sense of darkness, the warming sense of cold, the cosiness of the sculpture sings. The black text on the white paper has always made me think of snow.

 

 

The fifth paper book sculpture: Tea, cake and a book

Other gifts are a paper cinema screen from which the characters explode, running towards the enthralled audience; a dinosaur coming boldly to life from between the covers of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World; an old-school gramophone which you feel really is playing the songs of the 1950s as couples dance slowly unseen in the background; a cup of tea and a cake. From the fantastical to the everyday, the sculptor tells us, there is magic in books and stories which cannot be found elsewhere – a cup of tea and a dinosaur are not incompatible, the comfort of one and the danger of the other sing, and herein lies the beauty of stories.

 

The seventh paper book sculpture: Magnifying glass

That the sculptures were gifted anonymously is a sign of generosity not only of the sculptor herself (though this is undeniable) but also of stories – the deep humanity of the words we use to pass stories on from one person to the next, mother to child, elder to younger, author to reader. The sculptures reflect the infinite magic of libraries like Edinburgh Central Library, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library, where the shelves are lined with books, between the covers of which are endless adventures and ideas, if you dare to open the cover.

 

 

Four of these sculptures are on display in Central Library – works of art for everyone who loves stories, created by a fellow wanderer in the forests of fiction. Stories are what make us human. These sculptures remind us of that, and they are truly beautiful.

This blog post was written by Hope Whitmore, writer and member of the Central Library team. You can read more of her gorgeous writing on her Barnes & Noble Review page.

The last book sculpture: Butterfly Tree and the Lost Child

Bedtime Stories

This August, Sighthill Library has the privilege of hosting the Bedtime Stories Quilt, on loan from the Museum of Childhood.

The quilt was part of a Bedtime Stories exhibition and was created by 60 adults and children from all over the UK. The patchwork features familiar story-time favourites alongside squares inspired by personal memories. More information on the quilt can be found on the Museum’s blog and you can find out more about the Museum of Childhood on their website.


The quilt is on display alongside some of the stories that inspired it, so come along and have a look, before it goes on tour to other libraries in the city including Stockbridge, Fountainbridge, Wester Hailes, Newington and Balgreen.

 

 

A Woman’s Place art exhibition

This month’s exhibition in the Art & Design Library is by Julie Galante and is entitled     A Woman’s Place: an exploration of home and belonging.

Julie is a painter and mixed-media artist based in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Her artwork focuses on people and places real and imagined. As someone who has lived in several different countries, she is particularly intrigued by the ways in which one’s location can affect a person’s inner and outer life.

The exhibition works started out as a study of the relationships between people and places: how one’s location and proximity to other people affects one’s mental state and well-being. The themes and subjects have grown and developed with the events of the past year. Julie explained to where the inspiration for her work had come from –

“The power of groups of women became evident to me in the women’s marches taking place all over the world, as well as in the close-knit group of female friends who supported me through my husband’s leukemia diagnosis and treatment. His death in April of this year left me reeling, person-less and place-less. Much of the artwork I have created since then is an exploration of my new role of young widow. And finally, many of the pieces in this exhibition celebrate Edinburgh, the city in which I know I belong. There is very little certainty in my life right now, but one thing I know for sure is that this city is my home”.

A Woman’s Place can be viewed within the Art & Design Library, Central Library from   2 – 30 August.