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.

 

A childhood dreamland

The staircase exhibition in Central Library for April is Idyllic Garden in Mind: Childhood Dreamland which uses illustrations from Kate Greenaway’s children’s books. The exhibition was created by Lin Fan, an Art History master’s degree student at the University of Edinburgh.

Fan has selected some beautiful Kate Greenaway books as well as some lovely winners of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library’s collections. Last month, she also held a Garden Book Family Craft Workshop inspired by Kate Greenway’s illustrations and some of the books created by the children will be on display too.

Browse the ‘childhood dreamland’ in the Central Library staircase and foyer display areas from 3 – 28 April 2017.

 

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.

March’s Art Exhibition

For an artistic treat why not come along to this month’s exhibition in our Art and Design Library from the 4-30 March and see art works by Rosie Nimmo.

Rosie graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1997 and immediately went to study Art Therapy at Queen Margaret University.  At this time Rosie was a very active member of the artists community in Edinburgh, contributing and showing works in all the major group exhibitions in the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA)  as well as other smaller local shows. She has had a break from the art world whilst pursuing her musical career, but is delighted that this show will give her the opportunity to show her work to a wider audience again.

waveRosie is a bit of a visual magpie, hopping from one subject to another and using a variety of media to demonstrate her response to the ideas.  Currently what interests her most is the light at the sea. She works is a variety of different media on paper including printmaking.

10% of all sales from this exhibition will go to Mercy Corps, an organisation that works with displaced people from all over the world, and which Rosie supported with a charity single last year.

 

 

Celebrating St Valentine’s Day with Love in Art

couples-in-artFebruary 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.

bridal-fashionsRomance 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.

February’s Art Exhibition

michael-topley-poster-image-2Why 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”.

 

The Furuyama Moromasa Scroll is now available to view online!

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

Section from Central Library’s Furuyama Moromasa scroll

Detail showing pantomime horse on stage.

Detail showing pantomime horse on stage.

You can catch up on the Scroll story so far with these earlier blog posts: