Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Mansfield Traquair Centre

In 1873 the short lived christian group, the Catholic Apostolic Church, built a church at Mansfield Place in Edinburgh. The history of this group in Edinburgh finishes in 1958 with the death of their last priest and the building changed hands several times until a group was formed to look after it in the early '90s. The building is generally available weddings and events and once a month (more often during the festival) it opens it's doors to the general public. It's worth keeping your eyes open for the open days, because in 1893 the church commissioned Phoebe Anna Traquair to paint a mural for them. She continued to paint murals in the church for 8 years, leaving it lavishly and beautifully decorated indeed.

We had an exceptionally well informed guide who told us that this, the chancel arch, was the first part of the murals to be painted and that the church would have prescribed very much what the wanted it to contain so that it matched their creed.

I'm not sure if the ceiling above the alter is part of Phoebe's work or not but it is lovely and worth a look.

After the initial mural Phoebe was give more scope in what she could paint. In the chancel aisles are scenes from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. 

The panels around the main story are full of angels, biblical scenes and animals and birds, all tied up in a profusion of William Morrisish foliage and celtic designs.

There were some poorly lit parts but these cheery fish are worth a look anyway.

The West wall shows the second coming of Christ.

Along the sides of the building, scenes from the Old Testament are portrayed on one side and the New on the other.

Joseph dreaming.

At no point in the building is the crucifixion portrayed. They go straight from the betrayal of Christ to here.

It's worth pointing out that these murals are not the work of a team under the leadership of Mrs Traquair, she painted it all herself. There is much more of her work available to see in Edinburgh, including the Song School at St Mary's (where the marvellous window in the last blog lives) which is only open during the festival and the Chapel at the Sick kids hospital (I'm not sure if it's available for the public to see at all). There's also plenty of her work in the museum on Chambers Street.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Edinburgh (mostly)

Here's a picture of Arthur's Seat. Described by Robert Louis Stevenson as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design", it is as familiar a sight to Edinburgh residents as the castle is.

But more to the point for this blog is the roof garden of the Museum of Scotland which is the upside down looking affair that can be seen on this slightly more zoomed photo.

These pictures seems an ideal point to launch into a few pictures of my own from. They're from our wanderings in and around Edinburgh during my last time off and the first few are taken from the roof garden you've just seen in the last picture. It doesn't look spectacularly high in the picture but it's high enough to give you a different view of the city.

Below is the churchyard of Greyfriars, famous for Greyfriar's Bobby and some tricky goings on that I covered last year.  Read about it here and here


Looking South (ish) over the city. The large building with the dome is the McEwan Hall which belongs to Edinburgh University.

Up on Carton hill you can see this tower which is to commemorate Admiral Nelson. Next to it the Greek looking frontage is the National Monument, or as much of it as they managed to build. It was planned to be a memorial to the Scots troops killed in the Napoleonic wars. It was started in 1826 but there were insufficient funds and it was never completed. It does, neither the less, make a better photo than the tram lines on Princes Street.

You get a different and rather excellent view of the castle from the top of the museum.

The three spires you see in this picture all belong to St Mary's Cathedral.

This leads on, with surprising continuity to another of our visits of the trip. In St. Marys cathedral we saw this rather magnificent stained glass window by Edinburgh artist, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. Sir Eduardo is most famous as a sculptor but anyone that has passed though the Tottenham Court Road underground station in London may have admired his mosaic designs for the walls.

We got a good sunny day for this so lots of coloured stonework.

The Botanical gardens are always good for a wander. It's been years since I was last in them and since then they have grown a number of sculptures. This as sculptures go may not ring my bell all that much but.....

.......for all it may look like painted wood........'s actually made of metal. Even when you're right at it you have to give it a rap to convince yourself it's not wooden. Very convincingly done.

In the inside area, they have a wicker tent where kids can draw a picture of their visit and post it up.

This youngster had a very different visit to us. We neither got rain nor saw the hippos.

Seems Auntie Jill was here too.

This enclosure to me carries the hallmark of Dumfriesshire sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. I don't know for certain though.

Autumn colours.

They have a rather brilliant gate at the botanics.

Just up from the Water of Leith (near where I never manage to see No 4 Gormley Man) is an old factory with an Egyptian mural on it. It's on Beaverhall road and I have managed to find out nothing about it at all except that it was once Duncan's chocolate factory. This area must have smelled delicious at one time.

This isn't Edinburgh at all, but we had a wee drive out to North Berwick which is just down the coast. There you can get a cup of tea in the cafe of the Scottish Seabird Centre and an excellent view of the Bass rock. It would perhaps be unfair not to mention, since his cousin Robert Louis Stevenson was mentioned earlier in this blog, that this lighthouse of 1903 is one of 26 around Scotland built by David Alan Stevenson.

I found a new friend

Not pictured, but it's worth a mention that we went to see Eddi Reader in concert on the last Saturday of the time off and she gave a quite superb concert - much of it seemed quite unplanned (I don't think her band, let alone us, had seen her play As Time Goes By before by the looks of it). All most enjoyable including Kieran Goss's few songs and Irish banter as a support act.