Category Archives: Scotland

What to do in Scotland; attractions in Scotland and the best places to visit in Scotland.

Porty Art Walk Edinburgh

Porty Art Walk is an annual event held in Edinburgh’s seaside district of Portobello. There are walks, artist’s talks, themed shop windows workshops, music and a parade. Lots of local artists open up their homes to display their work to the public (called Art Houses).

Below are photos of some of the Porty Art Walk shop windows.

The ‘Carousel’ installation at St Marks Church, one of the Pleasure Ground locations, reminded me of the logo for my Dad’s former toy and book shop called Merrygoround.

The first Art House which I visited, was home to one of my favourite pieces.

The artist, Jude Nixon, had created a beautiful sculptural installation from rice paper panels decorated using paint applied hydrated seaweed.

Another one of my favourite Art Houses was Robin Baillie’s.

Robin’s very large, calm dog took all the visitors in her stride, as she settled down on the floor for a sleep.

I liked the fact that Teresa Gordon’s woman in a swimming costume was a more normal shape than often portrayed.

Teresa’s fish and bird lampshades were striking.

Jenny Martin’s screen printing demonstration was very interesting. Below is some of her work.

There were two artists exhibiting at Art House 36. Karl Stern’s prints were lovely.

Javier Ventura’s pieces were inspired by the former Art Deco style outdoor swimming pool in Portobello.

John Thayer’s geometric pieces appealed to me.

In 2018, Porty Art Walk lasted for ten days from 30 August to 9 September. But most of the events were on during the two weekends.

Orginally, I had only planned to attend on the first Saturday. I had an enjoyable morning visiting several Art Houses and one screen printing demonstration.

I had booked on the Pier to Pier  participatory art walk by Greig Borgoyne at 1pm. I turned up expecting a saunter along the prom, starting at the location of the former pier in Portobello.

Prior to the walk, I had been emailed a link to a video on Vimeo, which was of the artist Greg walking on Hastings Pier taking a few steps then changing direction.

The 16 participants assembled to start the walk,  Greg produced an enormous piece of elastic. Each participant’s video had a different number from one to twenty. Greg explained that we had to space out within the the perimeter of the elastic, trying to maintain tension. The person with the the video numbered one would start off copying Greg;s steps on their video. Everyone else would copy their steps. Once you had lead the walk, you left.

You could either hold the elastic in your hand or push against it with your body.

My video was number 19, so I knew that I was in it for the long haul.

It became really difficult to maintain the tension as the number of participants diminished. This meant that the elastic started to drag in the wet sand on the shore line. I began to wonder if I would end up with friction burns on my hands or body, as I tried to keep the elastic taut. It felt a bit like using a turbo charged Slendertone muscle toning belt. I felt as the event would have been more user friendly, if the elastic hadn’t been so long.

The art walk lasted for 50 minutes. Suffice to say that I was absolutely knackered by the end. My face was the colour of beetroot and I was covered in wet sand.

I was so exhausted, that I had to abandon my plan to visit more Art Houses in the afternoon.

That meant that I decided to return to Porty Art Walk the following day. That turned out to be a good decision, as despite arriving before opening time of 11am on Sunday, I still didn’t have enough time to get around all the Art Houses.

I did attend Greig Borgoyne’s talk on Sunday afternoon, as I was intrigued to find out more about his practice. I discovered that the length of the elastic used in the Pier to Pier participatory walk had been determined by the length of the former Portobello pier.

I thought that Porty Art Walk was a wonderful event. It was very well organised. It felt like there is a great  community spirit on Portobello. All the artists were so welcoming to visitors to their home.

Edinburgh Art Festival

I spent several days at the Edinburgh Art Festival 2018. There was so much to see.

I’ve already written articles about three exhibitions, Liberty Art Fashion and Fabric at Dovecoat Studios, Green Man by Lucy Skaer at the Tablot Rice Gallery and Joana Vasconceol’s Gateway at Jupiter Artland,But I wanted to highlight more of the venues which were part of this art festival.

There was lots on at the Edinburgh College of Art. The MA Postgraduate Show was only on for one week.

Rhubaba Gallery and Studios, in Arthur Street, around half way down Leith Walk had a sound installation All in a Day’s Work by Andrea Zarza.

Further down in Leith was Andy Cumming’s Adam Lunklater: Mythopeia, based on the artist’s research into mythology and the occult.

A couple of miles east in Newhaven, was the Hemispheric Phases exhibition at Edinburgh Sculpture  Workshop, based on a six month exchange between Scotland and Argentina.

The Open Eye Gallery in the new town was exhibiting work by the Scottish artist John Bellany.

Confusingly some art exhibitions were not part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, but part of the main festival. I’d read about one these, Paperwork 5 at the Edinburgh Ski Club.

On my walk back to the car from the Ski Club, I was really glad that I spotted the Six Women in Glass exhibition at Converge

I attended a free Saturday morning workshop at the Partriothall Gallery in Stockbridge, based on the  It Is Incredible How Much Happiness We Sometimes Share Together by the Slip Collective. I didn’t see this exhibition mentioned in the Edinburgh Art Festival programme, but knew about it as I am on the Patriothall mailing list. The workshop participants took a walk along the nearby Water of Leith to collect some flora to use for printing fabric. Below is my piece.

It illustrates that it’s a good idea to look out for exhibitions and events which may not be part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, but take place during the same period.

Arts & Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright

The Arts and Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright, in south west Scotland, celebrated it’s 15th year in 2018. It’s usually held over the first weekend in August.

In 2018, there were 108 venues on the Art and Crafts Trail, predominantly in town. I arrived one hour before the official opening time of 11am, to ensure a good parking space and get my bearings.

The Sea Hames willow sculpture was located by the harbour car park.

Some local residents also opened their gardens to the public during the event. I popped into see one, as the rain had stopped when I came out Kirkcubright Galleries.

The theme of the 2018 Arts and Crafts Trail was pirates. Some local residents were participating by having pirate pictures in their window.

I spent quite a bit of time at the Tolbooth Arts Centre, which was hosting three exhibitions.

The winning entries from the Rotary Young Artists’ Competition were displayed in the stairwells.

I loved the jewellery display by Red Squirrel Crafts, desgined and created by Beth Currie.

The crocheted jewellery inspired by nature.

My next port of call was Cochrane Hall.

I enjoyed my visit to Greengate, the former home of Scottish illustrator Jessie M King, whose work I had seen earlier in the day at Kirkcubright Galleries.

Greengate is still home to an artist, Pauline Saul, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Trail.

The view from the Garden Studio, venue 33, reminded me of the scene painted by Peploe, which I had seen that morning in Kirkcubright Galleries.

The Harbour Cottage Gallery is in a great location.

Below are photos of some of the other venues on the Arts and Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright.

I did manage visit one of the venues located outside Kirkcubright, at the Marrbury Smokehouse, which sits beside Carsluith Castle, as you drive west of the A75 towards Dumfries. I was only able to the pieces by Ruby Marr which were on display in the cafe. You had to come to an evening event to see the full exhibition.

I reckon that you could spend two or three days on the Arts and Crafts Trail in order to visit all the venues. I think it is a wonderful event. Everyone at the venues was so friendly and welcoming. There is so much artistic talent in the area.

Visiting Gatehouse of Fleet

I popped into the town of Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway when I was driving from Barholm Accommodation in Creetown to Kirkcubright, I’d read that there was a pop up artist’s shop in the town which I wanted to see.

There is free parking with public toilets in the town centre. As it was a lovely morning, I decided to go for a short walk along the Water of Fleet. I spotted a picnic bench, next to a wooden sculpture, with a river view, so decided to return there with my flask.

Then I crossed the road and walked down to the Mill on the Fleet, as the pop up artist’s shop was on the top floor there. As I approached the mill, I saw an enormous wooden sculpture.

There were a couple of enormous mill wheels outside the building.

There’s a small wheel at the side of building.

On the ground floor there’s the Mill Cafe, which has some outdoor seating.

On the first floor, there were exhibits charting the history of Gatehouse of Fleet, There was scale model of the town.

Information boards related some facts about the town.

For kids there were some historic costumes for dressing up.

There was also an old school desk.

You could try your hand at carding, spinning and weaving.

I liked the collages made by local children.

I enjoyed the views down over the river.

One part of the top floor is a book shop.

I was very impressed the artist’s shop. The quality of the work was high and the prices reasonable.

I really enjoyed my stop in Gatehouse of Fleet and spend more time there than I planned. 21 recommend it as a pit stop if you are driving on the A75 between Dumfries and Stranraer.

Kirkcubright Galleries

Kirkcubright Galleries opened in June 2018. I was keen to visit, as Kirkcubright has a reputation as an artists’ town.

I liked the wrought iron work on the gate in front of the the main entrance door.

My first impression positive. The staircase was beautiful and there was a feeling of light and space.

The first floor cafe had views over to the church opposite.

As I have a National Art Pass, I didn’t have to pay the £4 adult admission fee to see the Stars of Scotland temporary exhibition. My favourite piece was by the Scottish colourist J D Fergusson. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted in the exhibition.

The permanent collection is housed on the ground floor.

I really liked the decorated chairs by William Miles Johnstone, a bird and animal artist.

There were some gorgeous ceramics.

Peploe’s depiction of Kirkcubright is more colourful that reality.

Jessie M King, who lived in Kirkcubright, was best known for her book and magazine illustrations, but she also designed fabrics (for Liberty), jewellery and painted pottery.

Below are greetings card designed by King.

Below are two of her illustrations for Wynken, Blyken & Nod by poet Eugene Field.

There were sculptures of animals and their young by Phyllis M Bone.

Below are some photos of other exhibitions at Kirkcubright Galleries.

Kirkcubright Galleries is open on Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. On a Sunday it’s noon to 5pm. It’s free to enter, except for some temporary exhibitions. There’s plenty of free parking in Kirkcubright.

Carsluith Castle

You can visit the ruins of a 16th century tower house at Carsluith Castle, in Dumfries and Galloway, in south west Scotland.

The castle is located just off the A75. It’s open all year and it’s free to enter. You could combine a visit to Carsluith Castle with a pit stop at the adjacent cafe. If the weather is dry, you could sit outside.

There are stone steps to ascend the castle.

The higher you get, the better the views of the surrounding countryside and Wigton Bay.

I had the place to myself when I visited around 10am on a Saturday morning.

Spring Fling Art Open Studios in Dumfries and Galloway

Spring Fling is an annual art and craft open studios event in Dumfries and Galloway, in south west Scotland. I attended the event in late May 2018.

The studios are dispersed over a wide geographic location. The event organisers suggest six colour coded routes to follow. However, I decided to draw up my own itineraries, based on visiting the studios which were of the most interest to me.

This was a complex task, especially as I am not familiar with that area. I also had to factor in different opening hours and the travel time between venues.

Below are photos from a few of the Spring Fling studios which I visited.

Peter Wareing

Andrew Adair

Annie Cooney

Christime Hester Smith

Jo Gallant

Penny Lilley

Phil Mcmenemy

Wendy Kershaw

Ir you’re interested in arts and crafts, I recommend a visit to Spring Fling. It’s a great opportunity to meet the artists, see them at work and purchase their pieces.

Barnhill Rock Garden in Broughty Ferry, Dundee

If the weather is dry one of my favourite places to visit in Dundee, is Barnhill Rock Garden, in the seaside suburb of Broughty Ferry.

It’s usually quite sheltered in the garden, with the trees and shrubs offering some respite if there is an easterly wind. I’ve visited at all times of year.

There are plenty of benches and picnic tables in the garden. Plus, there is free on street parking and the all important public toilets.

I really like sitting by the pond, but there is only one bench with a good view of the pond.

It never seems to be too busy at Barnhill Rock Garden. If it’s a good day weather wise, most people seem to head for the beach. If the weather isn’t great, the cafes in Broughty Ferry are more appealing to many.

When I visited Barnhill Rock Garden last Summer, there was one of the giant penguin sculptures which formed Maggie’s Penguin Parade.

Logan Botanic Garden in Dumfries and Galloway

I’d read about Logan Botanic Garden, but was it’s located in rather a remote spot in the south west of Dumfries and Galloway (15 miles south of Stranraer), I hadn’t visited. When I saw that one of the outdoor dance performances of Les Impromptues: A Breath of Fresh Air was taking place there, I knew I had to visit.

Logan Botanic Garden is part of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The location, close to the warning effect of the Gulf Stream, means that it is Scotland’s most exotic garden.

When I arrived at the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the car park was already full, so I had to park the car on a grass verge at the side of the driveway.

I was entranced by the Les Impromptues: A Breath of Fresh Air especially the dance around the fish pond.

There’s a cafe with outdoor seating around a smaller pond with a spherical slate feature.

There was a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds stands aimed at kids.

I spent around an hour in garden after the dance performance.

The fish pond was my favourite part of the garden, despite it being too hot for my to sit in the sun on a bench at the side of the pond.

There was a section planted with palm trees.

The Conservatory is huge.

You can have a picnic in the shade of Tasmanian trees.

There’s a boggy area where Gunnera grows.

The Woodland Pond was so pretty.

You can learn more about the garden in the Discovery Centre.

I have to say that Logan Botanic Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens which have visited. Despite the car park being full the garden, it didn’t seem too busy.

The admission fee is £6.50 for adults, £5.50 for concessions, kids go free. The arden is open daily from 1 March to 15 November, from 10am – 5pm (4pm in November and Sundays in February. If I lived closer, I think that I’d buy an annual pass, which costs £29 per year if you pay by direct debit. The pass also gives you free entry to the glasshouses in Edinburgh plus Dawyck, and Benmore Gardens.

Rozelle House Galleries & The Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr

I did an online search for art galleries in Ayrshire, when planning my drive south to Dumfries and Galloway for the Arts and Crafts Trail in Kirkcubright. My search brought up the Rozelle House Galleries and the Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr.

Initially, I was a bit confused wondering if the two galleries located in different places. But they are adjacent.

Rozelle House is a former mansion house which was gifted the Royal Burgh of Ayr in the late 1960s. It then became an art gallery. In the mid 1970s, the stable block and servants quarters and became the Maclaurin Gallery.

There were plenty of parking spaces in the free car park when I arrived early on a Thursday afternoon.

I started off in the Maclaurin Gallery, which is accessed through the courtyard.

I really liked William Dick’s The Paper Works  exhibition.

As it was raining, I had a  rather quick look around the Sculpture Park.

Then it was back inside to the Rozelle Galleries.

There’s a Henry Moore sculpture at the bottom of the staircase.

I thought that some of the pieces by the Ayr College students in their HND Art & Design exhibition were wonderful. The young woman portrayed on the left below is constructed with jigsaw pieces.

The man on the right below was made by painting on a tapestry.

Below are photos of some of the other exhibits.

Upstairs at Rozelle, there was an exhibition of Alexander Goudie’s painting depicting Robert Burns’ Tam o’Shanter. Most didn’t appeal to me, being too dark coloured. The one I liked was of Brig o’Doon.

The basement walls outside the toilets had been painted by local young people.

I highly recommend a visit to the Rozelle Galleries and the Maclaurin Gallery in Ayr. It was free to get in and the galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and noon to 5pm on Sundays. But do check before you visit as many museums and galleries opening hours have been reduced and charges introduced to see some exhibitions, due to spending cutbacks by local authorities.