Saturday, 28 September 2013

Duff House

Duff House is an extraordinary sight, a towering Baroque palace dominating the wild breakers and the coastal landscape near the north eastern extremity of Scotland.The house was commissioned by William Duff (1697-1763) who was created Earl of Fife. The Duffs were an old Scottish family who had recently acquired extensive landed property due to the financial acumen of William Duff, often from  dispossessed Jacobites.

William Duff gave the work to build a grand new seat for his dynasty to William Adam (1698-1748), the leading Scottish architect of his day. A commission to build on a fresh sight, rather than try and impose a symmetrical house onto an old tower  must have been particularly exciting.  Building started in 1735.

The extraordinary quality of the work can be explained by the fact that the stone was carved at Adam's quarry near South Queensferry and carved under the architect's supervision and shipped north when it was completed. Adam himself made an annual visit to Duff to monitor progress.The wood used in the building came from the Mar Estate, and it is possible that Duff had bought the estate for this purpose. The timber was floated down the Dee, and the floorboards were proudly stated  to be made from wood from the forests of Mar.

 The entire facade is embraced by giant Corinthian order pilasters with richly carved capitals supporting a pediment in the centre.  The plan of the house reflected traditional Scottish arrangements with the lowest floor for service rooms, the first floor was for the family while the piano nobile on the second floor comprised an enfilade of the grandest rooms on a processional route approached by a grand staircase. This arrangement gave the house a towering aspect, further emphasized by the corner closet towers rising to domes supporting octagonal chimneys. It is a magnificent sight.In the end Duff and Adam fell out in a dispute over costs and the intended wings were never built.

In 1889 the 6th Earl of Fife married Princess Louise, later the Princess Royal, oldest daughter of the Prince of Wales who became Edward VII, and he was created Duke of Fife. Duff House was not considered suitable for a royal princess, instead  Mar Lodge was rebuilt after a fire in 1895and became their residence.Financial problems caused the Duke and Duchess to sell Duff House to the towns of Banff and Macduff in 1906.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Jacobite glass

Most Jacobite glass was made between 1740 and 1760. It combined the  practical function with a symbolic role by demonstrating, in safe company, loyalty to the Stuart dynasty. A superb collection is on display at the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh as part of the exhibition 'Imagining Power'.

The most common symbol was a rose with one or two buds. The rose represented James Francis Edward Stuart, and the buds his two sons, Chalres and Henry. The white rose (Scottish rosa alba maxima) was the heraldic badge of the Jacobites and used as an emblem to identify supporters of the cause.

The most explicit statements of loyalty were the 'Amen' glasses, thirty seven of which are known today. These wine glasses all have the royal cipher 'JR' for Jacobus Rex, the figure '8', verses from the Jacobite anthem and the word 'Amen', meaning 'Let it be.' The verses describe the king as 'Soon to reign over us', referring to James's exile in Rome. (The anthem was later appropriated by the Hanoverian regime, with a few word changes.)

Jacobite glasses engraved with the image of Prince Charles Edward Stuart are very rare, those engraved with an enamel portrait and even scarcer (only eight are known.)

The glasses were commissioned both by families loyal to the Stuarts and by Jacobite societies for use in their drinking rituals. Toasts were made to the 'king over the water' and the glass was passed over a water bowl or glass of water to signify it was the Stuart king over the water being honored.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Design For Living

 Noel Coward (1899-1973) wrote his comedy about the complicated three way relationship between Gilda, Otto and Leo in 1932. It was revived in a production by the Citizen's Company, directed by Philip Prouse in 1991, that opened at the Citizen's Theater Glasgow and later transferred to the  Theater Royal Richmond. The performers were Laurance Rudic, Jonny Phillips, Ellen Sheean, Roberta Taylor, Colin Wells and Mathew Whittle.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Mostly West: Franz West & Artist Collaberations

The summer exhibition at Inverleith House 2013  was devoted to the Austrian artist Franz West (1947-2012). He received the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 2011 Venice Biennale, thank goodness, the year before he died. For the first time, fifty of his collaborations with other artists were shown together, in Edunburgh, curated by Ines Turian, Curator of the Franz West Foundation. Not many places in Edinburgh can have generated as many smiles this year, not even the Fringe.

Fleur Mal, (2012/13),  Andreas Reiter Raabe and Franz West have a papier mache lamp hanging above visitors when they arrived at the exhibition.

One, fabulous, fun filled room is filled with collaborations with young German artist, Anselm Reyle.

This room is the result of Franz's collaboration with Scottish artist Douglas Gordon, 'Every Little', (2003),  two of West's famous three seater sofas  face each other, above them a line of words  upend the song........"Every time I think of you"......  runs around the walls.

Fifteen, white, elongated sculptures made by a group of artists who West had assembled for an installation entitled Edelweiss.

'Talk Without Words' (Christopher Wool) (2012), by Franz West and Marina Faust invites four people to sit around a table and initiate a form of non-verbal communication by head-butting an outsize green ball of wool.

Franz's collaboration with Sarah Lucas is represented by a papier mache representation of a rock, with an  egg, fried fresh each day, on top.

Another collaboration between Franz West and Sarah Lucas was a figure made out of "spaghetti" like tubes, fags, cigarettes, called Spaghetti West.

Franz West's, Adaptives' (Passstckes) ,made their first  appearence in 1974. In Edinburgh these amorphously shaped sculptures also inivite visitors to do what ever they would like to do with them, within the confines of  'Spiegel in Kabine mit Passtucken', (1996), Franz West's collaboration with Mic heangelo Pistoletto, made from a mirror, wood, video, epoxy, metal and newspaper.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Innerleithen House, Franz West: Collaberations

The floating installation, 'Bateau Imaginaire' was the result of a collaberation between the late Austrian artist Franz West (1947-2012) and Heimo Zoberning. In the summer 2013, the installation  made her second voyage, around the Chinese pond in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, as part of, Mostly West: Franz West and Artist Collaborations.

Long, may she float.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Victoria Bridge Mar Lodge Estate

This white girder bridge crosses the Dee to form the entrance to Mar Lodge. When the Duff family owned the estate the Porter's lodge was occupied and the gates were closed, every night.

The distinctive horseshoe arch records  that the bridge was built in 1905.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Penicuik Estate gates

Two gates, one wooden and one iron beside the drive to the house. The cultured Clerk family have been leading the nation's taste since the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Bowhill Dalkeith Palace Gates

These early seventeenth century gates were made for Dalkeith Palace and removed to Bowhill,following the decision in 1920 of the Montague-Douglas-Scott family to shut up the palace, which until the outbreak of the Great War had been the family's main house in Scotland.
At Bowhill the gates were installed on the original approach to the house. After the house was realigned the gates were left to mark the extent of the formal gardens.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Hatton House South Gates

Part of the former principal entrance to one of the great Renaissance houses of Scotland. Erected in 1629 to the east of the house as part of the grand avenue that connected it to the Lion Gates, the gates were moved to their current position, south of the house near the west lodge, in 1829. Hatton House was demolished in 1955. Perhaps the gates will move again?

Bonnington House Gates

The 'Sputnik' main gates to Bonnington House were designed by Ben Tindall Architects to provide a suitable entrance to the Artland which unfolds beyond. So just as they can be opened, gates can of course, be shut. That means the 'official' end of Scotland's wonderful summer of sun for Edinburgh's Middles Classes. Dr Bach's Visual Rescue Remedy for their Eyes. Thank you, it was wonderful.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Jupiter Artland, "Procession 2009"

Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane exhibited their Steam Powered Internet Machine, linking the Industrial and Digital Revolutions in the Stedding at Bonnington House for the 2013 season, or Year Five of Jupiter Artland, the same year he was chosen to represent the UK at the Venice Bienale. Also, in the Steading Gallery the ten banners that had been paraded through the streets of Manchester as part of Procession 2009. Described as "Deller's celebratory take on British life." they were made with banner maker Ed Hall.