February has always been a month for romance, although the origins of St Valentine’s Day itself have become murky. Way back in the day, on February 15th, pagans celebrated Lupercalia; a fertility festival dedicated to their God or Agriculture, Faunus. But the 5th century arrived all too quickly for the pagans and Lupercalia was outlawed by the Christian Church. It was replaced with St Valentine’s Day (Valentine being one of three possible Saints of the same name), and moved to February 14th.
Romance only really came to Valentine’s Day during the 14th and 15th centuries, when some clever Englishmen and Frenchmen thought February 14th was the first day of the birds’ mating season. Thus, from then on, St Valentine’s Day became a day of not only birdy romance, but a celebration of human love.
Art, literature and music have often found their muses in romance, and the work of artists, writers, poets and musicians often celebrates the love symbolised by Valentine’s Day. Find artistic inspiration in our selection of books celebrating love in art.
Why not pop along to the Art & Design Library and see their February exhibition. This month’s exhibition is entitled Edinburgh Scenes & Others and is by Michael Topley. You can see his work from 3 – 27 February.
Michael lives in Morningside having moved up from North Somerset five years ago and started painting seriously having been previously involved in photography. His job as an engineer and family commitments prevented him from giving too much time for art, but he has always had a strong interest. Along with his wife he is a member of an Edinburgh Art Group which meets once a week.
About his work Michael says “As I hope I have expressed in my paintings, I like to reflect modern life, particularly with urban street scenes, but don’t limit myself to these and will tackle most subjects with varied results. I feel that watercolours can be as expressive as any other medium and try hard to show this in my work”.
Regular readers of this blog will have kept up with the story of our beautiful 18th century Japanese scroll. We’re now very pleased to report that you can view the full 44ft long scroll in its entirety on Capital Collections!
The scroll dates from the early 1700s and depicts the bustling theatre district of Edo, modern-day Tokyo. The artwork, entitled ‘Theatres of the East’ represents a major discovery in the ‘ukiyo-e’ school of art, and is a detailed illustration of all manner of 18th century Japanese street life.
In the Capital Collections exhibition, you can click on each image to zoom in and browse the incredible detail within each section. See if you can spot the bathhouse, the man in his tower keeping a watchful eye out for fires, a puppet theatre, tightrobe walking acrobats, a dog chasing rats away and even a pantomime horse….
Section from Central Library’s Furuyama Moromasa scroll
Detail showing pantomime horse on stage.
You can catch up on the Scroll story so far with these earlier blog posts:
The Central Library sometimes takes work experience placements who are interested in working in libraries or in one of the areas covered by our specialist departments. We thought it might be interesting for you to hear how one of our placements enjoyed their time in our Art and Design Library. Juliet Pinto is a student at a nearby high school, and came to work with us for a week as one of her many interests is art –
“My program for the week was very diverse – I did shelving, set up Christmas displays, helped with events and shadowed general desk duties. I was initially apprehensive about joining in with the Bookbug and Craft event, but after getting involved it was great fun – the parents were very kind regarding my lacking nursery rhyme repertoire. The Wheels on the Bus was the only one I recognised!
Juliet hard at work in the Art & Design Library
Something that really fascinated me was finding out the amount of resources, opportunities and events available to the public, both online and in branch. On the Edinburgh Libraries online website you can learn languages online, stream top quality classical and jazz music as well as access newspapers past and present from all over the world. eMagazines, audiobooks and ebooks are also available to help further your knowledge of almost any topic. If you take only one thing away after reading this blog it should be that the Central Library and the online catalogue are so immensely useful!
I’ve really enjoyed my work experience this week and would urge anyone with an interest in art, music, history or rare books to enquire about a placement here as it’s helped me improve my timekeeping, organisational skills and ability to communicate with the public. This has truly been an experience I will never forget thanks to the kind and supportive staff”.
Thanks to Juliet for her hard work when she was with us – why not visit the Art and Music libraries and check out her Christmas displays!
The Art Library’s December exhibition is Every Woman Super Woman
Every Woman Super Woman is an exhibition of work by young Scottish women from Young Saheliya produced in partnership with Stills Centre for Photography and Edinburgh Art Festival.
The exhibition celebrates a summer of creative workshops inspired by Ciara Phillips’ Every Woman commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival and the Jo Spence exhibition at Stills. Also working with Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, workshops included photography, creative writing, blogging and female representation in the media.
The exhibition of portraits, explores self-expression through photography. Inspired by Jo Spence’s work, the group created characters to tell their own stories, drawing from personal experience, role models and fictional personalities.
This fantastic exhibition runs from 2 to 31 December.
The Edinburgh Photographic Society has regularly held group shows in the Art & Design Library for a number of years and each year they come back with a vivid and thought-provoking exhibition showcasing a wide variety of work by its many members – from studio and portrait photographs, to nature and creative digital photography.
Loup of Fintry by Doug Berndt ARPS
The EPS has an annual programme of courses and lectures, with regular club competitions and extensive facilities at their New Town base. It is a friendly club – always happy to see new faces, so if you’re interested in finding out more please visit www.edinburghphotographicsociety.co.uk for more details and make sure to come along and see the show, running from 1 – 29 November in the Central Art & Design Library.
October’s exhibition in the Art Library is ‘Heaven and Earth’, paintings by Huang Li of Mystery Ink Studio with calligraphy by Han Qi.
‘The art work, although simple, may also imply unpredicted mysteries; imply romance and integrity; imply cultural meaning and human spirit. These implications are the charm of the art; it endows people with enlightenment greater than that in the artworks themselves,’ so writes Huang Li, in her book of paintings and calligraphic works ‘Mysterious Ink’, gifted to the Art & Design library last year.
Huang Li lives in Bejing and works at the Mystery Ink studio, and her work, alongside calligraphic works by Han Qi will show from 3rd – 29th October in the Art & Design Library.