Scars on the City

Scars on the City: Edinburgh in World War One was an exhibition that ran from February to June 2015 at the Museum of Edinburgh. The exhibition drew on Edinburgh Museums & Galleries’ extensive wartime collections to explore the everyday lives of Edinburgh people during the War. Objects like shrapnel from a zeppelin raid, soldiers’ knitted socks and a Red Cross nurse doll were displayed to help transport visitors to a time of terror, hardship and, sometimes, adventure.

Doll: Red Cross nurse of World War 1

Doll: Red Cross nurse of World War 1

The exhibition’s curator, Vicky Garrington, says that the wartime toys and games from the Museum of Childhood were a big hit with visitors:

“People were surprised to find out how clued up young people were about the details of the War. Cigarette cards taught them about ranks, army signals and artillery, while board games challenged them to evade mines and bombs en route to Berlin!”

Board game from World War 1: To Berlin

Board game from World War 1: To Berlin

Meanwhile, shrapnel from bombs dropped by German zeppelins bring home the reality of the first war to be fought not just overseas, but on the Home Front.

The quirky and poignant objects from the exhibition are now available to view on Capital Collections, together with the stories that bring them to life.

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Edinburgh and the three bears

Tomorrow is World Animal Day, a day aimed at raising the status of animals and to improve welfare standards. World Animal Day is being commemorated in Edinburgh with a special ceremony at the statue of Wojtek in West Princes Street Gardens.

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Presscuttings and books from the Edinburgh & Scottish Collection

Wojtek, World War 2 hero

Adopted by a group of Polish soldiers in 1942, this Syrian brown bear cub was fed with condensed milk, fruit, marmalade, honey, syrup and beer. As member of the the 22nd Artillery Supply Company, Wojtek became a symbol of the Polish wartime struggle and travelled to Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. During the Battle of Monte Cassino, Wojtek helped by carrying ammunition. At the end of the World War 2, the 1.8 metre tall bear was transported to Berwickshire in Scotland. Following demobilisation in 1947, Woytek was given to Edinburgh Zoo where he spent the rest of his life. Since 2015, Wojtek has his own bronze statue in Princes Street Gardens. Sculpted by Alan Beattie Herriot, the monument represents Wojtek and a Polish Army Soldier “walking in peace and unity”.

Oliwa and Ograd, the pride of Edinburgh zoo

Did you know that Edinburgh Zoo hosted two other bears from Poland? Oliwa and Ograd were given to the children of Scotland from the children of Poland in 1959. In January 1968, Oliwa gave birth to three cubs – making the pair Edinburgh’s first breeding brown bears.

Visit the Edinburgh & Scottish Collection to uncover find more hidden histories of Edinburgh.

For a bite-size history of Edinburgh Zoo explore Our Town Stories.

 

City Garden event at Central Library

New PictureThe City Garden Project is a proposed urban greenspace project to improve the quality and quantity of ‘little green spaces’ across Edinburgh. So much space in the city is under used, from grass-desert parks to concrete traffic islands, the forgotten shoreline to featureless street
corners; this project is about revealing their potential for creative and green space uses!

City GardenCome along to the Central Lending Library on 30 September any time between 12 noon and 3pm and meet the team from HERE + NOW, the landscape and design studio behind the City Garden project. You’ll be able to see examples of their previous projects and find out more about the City Garden idea. Most of all they’d love you to share your ideas for a City Garden Project and how you’d like to activate unused spaces. You will be able to mark places which could be a potential City Garden you know of on a map. This can be everything from a vacant or abandoned area to a neglected street corner.

Why not drop-in and help make Edinburgh an even greener city!

 

Going to the pictures

Nowadays, we can stream a film directly to our mobile devices or TVs to watch at our own convenience. Gone are the days when hundreds of children would spend a morning or afternoon queuing up noisily to see the latest adventures of Hopalong Cassidy, Abbot and Costello, The Lone Ranger and Laurel and Hardy, to name a few. These were times when films were shown continuously, which meant you could spend hours at the cinema, if you managed to keep out of sight of an usherette!

The first purpose built cinema to open in Edinburgh was The Haymarket Cinema opening in 1912. In 1914, The Cameo (then called The Kings Cinema) opened, and is one of the oldest cinemas still open in Scotland. It was estimated that by 1917 there were 24 cinemas in Edinburgh. When the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre opened in 1929, it was the city’s first super cinema, able to seat up to 3000 people.

Cameo Cinema, Tollcross, Edinburgh

The Cameo Cinema, opened in 1914

Talkies arrived in the late 1920s, but before then cinema operators would enhance the viewing experience by using music and orchestras or adding their own home-made sounds for effects such as horses’ hooves, pistol shots and explosives.

Children’s Saturday film clubs with songs, quizzes and safety-first films were extremely popular, the first one started in the New Tivoli in 1934. There was even a song for the ABC Cinema club, which would be sung enthusiastically at the beginning of the proceedings.

We are the boys and girls well known as

Minors of the ABC,

And every Saturday all line up

To see the films we like and shout with glee

We like to laugh and have our sing-song

Just a happy crowd are we-e

We’re all pals together

We’re Minors of the ABC

Tivoli Cinema, Gorgie Road, Edinburgh

The Tivoli, Gorgie.

Alas, most of the cinemas built in the 20s and 30s no longer exist. These were built in the heyday of Art Deco and were magnificent to look at, both inside and out. Many were turned into Bingo Halls or demolished.

George (formerly County) Cinema, Portobello

The George (formerly County) cinema, Portobello

Edinburgh has one of Britain’s last remaining independently-run cinemas. The Dominion Cinema in Morningside opened in 1938 and is still owned and run by the Cameron family. Erected in only 3 months, The Dominion was one of the last and most characteristic Art Deco buildings in Edinburgh.

Dominion Cinema, Newbattle Terrace

The Doninion Cinema, Morningside

Edinburgh is also host to the longest continually running film festival in the world, The Edinburgh International Film Festival. Established in 1947, it originally viewed documentary films and as its reputation grew expanded to incorporate international films. EIFF’s success has continued and notable films premiered include Brave, the Hurt Locker, Billy Elliot, Little Miss Sunshine, and this year, a remake of the 1949 film Whisky Galore!

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The Filmhouse, Edinburgh, host of the EIFF

Edinburgh has also featured in many films. One of the earliest, The Body Snatcher (1945) featuring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, was based on the short story of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson. With many references to Burke, Hare and Dr Knox, it was marketed as “The screen’s last word in shock sensation”!

Another film adaption from a book by Edinburgh author Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was released in 1969 and featured Edinburgh heavily.  Donaldson’s School (now Edinburgh Academy) on Henderson Row stood in for Marcia Blaine School for Girls, and when Jean leads her charges on a tour of the city, the Grassmarket, the Vennel, Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Churchyard all feature.

The Vennel

The Vennel

Probably the most well known film featuring Edinburgh is Trainspotting, and yes by yet another Edinburgh author, Irvine Welsh. Although the book is based in Edinburgh, Leith in particular, very little of it was actually filmed here. One very famous scene was though, Renton and Spud being chased by security staff along Princes Street.

Princes Street, looking west, Edinburgh

Princes Street

To see more photos of Edinburgh Cinemas, some now long gone, visit Capital Collections.

 

Art Library exhibition for August and September

The latest exhibition in the Art Library is World’s Apart: Photo Essays by Neil Shaw and Hamish King.

You know that classic view at Giza in Egypt, with the three pyramids, and behind them the Sahara stretching to the horizon? 

Turn around and you are looking at Cairo. It’s one of the most dramatic frontiers in the world: the edge of the biggest desert on Earth, an emptiness extending over 3.5 million square miles and 11 countries; and right beside it the most populous city in the Arabic world, a bustling, relentless place, home to maybe 20 million people.

In the first part of their exhibition in the Art Library, Neil Shaw examines this disparity, with pictures from a single central Cairo street called Shari Gohar el-Qait set alongside those from the heart of the desert that begins on the city’s doorstep, shot at two locations in Libya, up to 60 miles from the nearest road.

Worlds Apart

The scenes in the second part of the exhibition, by Hamish King, show us a different kind of contrast, appearing unambiguously rural yet all shot within the city boundary of Edinburgh, sometimes just metres away from streets and houses. Edinburgh is a world apart from Cairo, and while the comparison of its woodland areas with the elegance of the Georgian New Town is somewhat gentler than the move from city to desert, these pictures nevertheless show another side of Edinburgh; less well known, but still important to the city’s character.

Together, in their very different ways and contexts, the photographs displayed in this exhibition are a study of the proximity of otherness, of the idea that you can’t fully understand a place without knowing what lies alongside it.

World’s Apart: Photo Essays runs from 2nd August to 29th September 2016 in the Art Library.

Myplace: Edinburgh a Competition for the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

Myplace: Edinburgh is a competition to celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

Between 1 June – 10 July 2016 add a photograph of your favourite Edinburgh place (eg a building, location, open space…) to Edinburgh Collected  and tell us what makes it special to you.

poppies

1st , 2nd and 3rd prize winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.  Prizes are kindly donated by the Festival of Architecture 2016 and will be awarded to  1st prize (£200),  2nd prize (£100)  and  3rd prize (£50).

Inch houseCompetition entries will be added to Edinburgh Collected a community archive of Edinburgh memories and featured on the home page.

Terms and Conditions

The photographs you add are your own work
2 Agree to Edinburgh Collected Terms and Conditions
3 Place or building must be within the City of Edinburgh Council boundary
4 Add the tag ‘competition16’  to your memory to enter the competition

pb beach

Visit the Edinburgh Pavilion  at the Pop-Up Cities Expo at the Mound 20th June to the 17th July to see the entries!  Follow us at #popupedin

 

Upcoming talks and workshops

event

Our events calendar has details of what’s happening in libraries over the next couple of months. Here are a few of the highlights:

Alison Demarco: The Signature from Tibet

Wednesday 11th May, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Alison Demarco’s The Signature of Tibet is a breathtaking four-part, epic fictional story inspired by true events and follows the lives of four main, inspirational characters: The Soldier, Pembuti, Anne, and Palden.  Spanning the Highlands of Scotland to the remote and isolated Lowlands of Tibet, the book travels back in time to 1904 when a young Scottish soldier enters Tibet with the British Expedition.  Signature From Tibet is a must-read for anyone seeking spiritual enlightenment—or would just like to share in a fantastic journey the likes of which they’re unlikely to ever encounter again!

Edinburgh Tales: Charles Piazzi Smyth

Wednesday 18th May, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Charles Piazzi Smyth was appointed as Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1846, where he was based at the Calton Hill Observatory. Bruce Vickery will be talking about the context of Smyth’s arrival in Edinburgh as Scotland’s second Astronomer Royal, and about some of his multi-faceted activities while in this post. Bruce is a retired mathematical physicist with an interest in astronomy and its heritage in Edinburgh.

The Waves Burn Bright by Iain Maloney

Tuesday 24th May, 6.30pm. Free – book online
In 1988 the Piper Alpha oil platform exploded killing 167 men. The Waves Burn Bright is a deeply affecting, sensitive portrait of its devastating aftermath on one family.
Author Iain Maloney talks about his new novel, which is based on this tragic event. His other novels are  First Time Solo and Silma Hill. He was also shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and in 2014 he was shortlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker prize.

Scrieve-It

Monday 30th May, 6.00pm. Free – book online

Whither ettlin tae write in Scots frae the affset, or whither aready applying yer creative skeels tae the leid, the Scrieve-It workshoap will luik tae weys o explorin an developin new or existin writin in Scots, wi the National Library o Scotland’s resident Scots Scriever, Hamish MacDonald.

Former Robert Burns Writing Fellow for Dumfries and Galloway, Joint Artistic Director of Dogstar Theatre Company and Director of Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre, Hamish has written numerous warks in Scots includin plays, fiction and also bairns’ verse, short stories and a teenage novella for Scots imprint Itchy Coo Publishing.

How to promote your book

Thursday 2nd June, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Are you an aspiring, small or self-published writer and want to know how to promote your book?  Come along and learn how to put together a basic campaign that is sure to get you started.

Diane Hinds is an experienced entertainment PR who has taught Campaigning & Persuasive Skills at the University of Westminster, on its BA: Public Relations & Advertising course and is a frequent Guest Visitor at Victoria Zackheim’s Personal Essay Writing course, part of UCLA’s Extension programme.

Magnus Linklater – Little Sparta, a guide to the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Wednesday 15th June at 6.30pm. Free – book online

Chairman of the Little Sparta Trust, Magnus Linklater discusses Jessie Sheeler’s publication ‘Little Sparta – a Guide to the Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay’. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh, is widely regarded as one of the most significant gardens in Britain. In addition to being a spectacular example of garden design, it also features almost 300 art works by Finlay and others which form an integral part of the garden scheme.

The guide tells the story of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s extraordinary creation, exploring the underlying themes, and introducing and explaining the significance of the main elements and art works in each part of the garden. The publication also features new photographs by photographer Robin Gillanders as well as archival material.