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”.
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!
Pop into the Central Library by the 26th November to see a fantastic exhibition by Edinburgh College of Art’s Illustration Department. Entitled Illustrating Edinburgh it uses our favourite city as inspiration for posters and sketches.
In the staircase cabinets you’ll find posters designed by illustration students. The students each chose a building located in Edinburgh and designed a poster inspired by the architecture of the venue and by the events held there. The designs were influenced by the principles of Modernist art and design movements such as Dada, futurism, Russian constructivism and Bauhaus. The posters are original collograph prints, a process which incorporates collage, drawing and use of a printing press.
Downstairs on the mezzanine level of the library we have a collection of sketchbook work by ECA Illustration students, staff and alumni inspired by the city of Edinburgh.
Dock into our space station on the Mezzanine floor of Central Library for a fun-packed afternoon of art suitable for all the family everyday from 2.00 to 4.00pm on 17 – 21 October.
Imagine what equipment we’ll need in our space station and help us create with recycled materials. What will our food, clothing, flight tools, and spacesuits be like? What can we see from our space station? Come and make the planets, stars and alien spaceships that we’ll see from our space station.
No need to book – just drop in. Space coffee, tea and biscuits are provided.
The event forms part of Edinburgh City Libraries’ celebration of the annual UK Big Draw held during October each year, promoting drawing for all and its facility for changing lives and stimulating creativity. This year’s theme is ‘The STEAM Powered Big Draw’, with a focus on bringing together Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths in school curricula worldwide.
‘Really interesting and enjoyable’
‘Very relaxed but informative’
‘Person running the course was lovely and had a great way with the kids. She’s interested and passionate about what she was doing and my lot loved it’.
These are just some of the comments on Central Library’s partnership with Edinburgh Art Festival hosting summer art workshops themed around monuments. Inspiration was taken from our fantastic image bank of Edinburgh monuments on Capital Collections and from artist Sally Hackett’s `The Fountain of Youth’ sculpture located in the courtyard of the Museum of Edinburgh as part of Edinburgh Art Festival. Everyone was then encouraged to come up with our their ideas and create and build from recycled materials and clay.
We hosted three workshops aimed at children and families and different age groups. Many thanks to our Edinburgh Art Festival arts outreach worker Helena Barrett who delivered all three workshops with unfailing energy and enthusiasm.
As one person said, we’re `Looking forward to more events like this’.
We’ve already got plans for the Big Draw workshops in October. Look out for children and families art workshops happening at Central Library in the October half-term break!
Here’s a quick picture round-up of just a few of the activities that happened during the fantastic Big Friendly Read summer in Libraries.
Keep an eye on the Libraries’ calendar for other events coming soon or find out about regular activities, including craft events, happening in your local library.