Posts Tagged ‘Art’

Ingenious Impressions – Hunterian

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Quite recently I visited this exhibition which is in the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow and I absolutely loved it.

The Exhibition draws on the extensive research of a five year project to catalogue the University of Glasgow’s collection of fifteenth century printed books and gives you a background to each of the books as well as explaining how they were produced, collected and then bequeathed to the University.

The exhibition space is dimly lit, which is to preserve the books, but the accompanying text panels are well lit and a clever use of mirrors allows you to see many of the ornate covers and bindings hidden beneath.

My particular favourites included the Roman Breviary, the Calendar and the Canon of Medicine. A Breviary is a liturgical book which contains prayers, hymns, psalms and readings for everyday use by both the clergy and the laity.  This one was printed in Venice in 1478 and was a special luxury copy printed on vellum and beautifully decorated.  It is believed to have been produced as a gift for Leonardo Botta, the Milanese ambassador to Venice, and the detailed images and brilliant colours are as impressive today as when they were created.  The Kalendarium (Calendar) by Erhard Ratdolt was also produced in Venice but the printer was German and he had moved to Venice attracted by the thriving intellectual scene.  He produced technically innovative publications and this calendar includes paper wheels which can still be turned today to show the motion of the moon. The Canon of Medicine was an encyclopaedia of medicine compiled around 1025 by a Persian philosopher known as Avicenna. Originally written in Arabic it was translated into many languages and it’s one of the most famous books in the history of medicine.  This copy too was printed in Venice and its decoration, known as illuminations, are by an artist known as Pico Master and are extremely lavish.  There are also many annotations (or notes) written next to the text throughout the book so it was obviously well used.

The aim of the project was to promote this collection to a wider audience and I’m convinced this has been achieved.  Many of the people I know who have visited the exhibition are not academics but are book lovers keen to look at early versions of their much beloved pursuit of reading. The information provided between each set of books is detailed and informative and I came away with a greater understanding of both the production as well as subject matter of early printed books. I also earned that very early printed books, produced in the fifteenth century, are known as incunables and was able to look at a working model of an early printing press.

As I said earlier, I loved it and I am sure you will too.

Visit before it closes on 21 June.  Admission is free so spend your saved cash on the gorgeous accompanying catalogue.

Let us know your thoughts if you’ve visited.

Elvis in White

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Niall Macdonald was born in the Outer Hebrides and graduated from the Glasgow School of Art.  He now lives and works in Glasgow and his latest exhibition, Elvis Nipple Plinth, is a solo exhibition at the Kendall Koppe Gallery.
We visited on Saturday and really liked the work, which yet again I’d discovered on social media (Twitter to be precise).  It’s not a very big exhibition, the Gallery space is only small, but you spend a lot of time trying to work out the links between each of the objects.  Apart from one piece, which sits on the far wall, there are two objects on each plinth, all created in white, and one object sits on top of the plinth and one on the front of the plinth.  E-Book Skull Plinth has a very small skull sitting on the plinth and an e-book reader on one side of the column.  We couldn’t decide if the skull represented the death of the book and the rise of the digital format, or if it was the artist’s thoughts about the impact of digital books.  By placing the objects out of context the artist manages to change their meaning and Niall is particularly interested in the concept of ‘must have’ objects, in particular technology.
The Elvis Nipple Plinth, the title of the show, has a bust of Elvis on the top with a teat, or nipple, attached to the plinth.  Make of these juxtapositions what you will but you will have fun doing it and come up with some interesting ideas.  The artist himself describes his Exhibition as more Space Odyssey than Elgin Marbles and the stark whiteness of the objects, plinth and gallery appear influenced by the Kubrick film which conicidentally was shown on BBC2 this weekend.
The Kendall Koppe Gallery is at 6 Dixon Street, just off St Enoch Square, so it’s very central and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11.00am to 5.00pm.  Press the buzzer for the Gallery to gain entry and it’s on the first floor. You won’t be disappointed…

Bowes Museum

Monday, February 16th, 2015
Bowes Museum

Bowes Museum

I visited this Museum in Barnard Castle in County Durham for the first time this weekend after discovering it through social media.  What a unique and fantastic venue.  The building stands out in the market town of County Durham as it is built in the style of a French Chateau!  Helpful staff show you how to access the building and we started with a background to the Museum and its creators.  Appropriate for Valentine’s weekend, this is a story of the love of a couple and their combined love of the arts and collecting.  The Museum was built by them with the intention of housing their collection for the public to visit.  A very philanthropic project.


The art within the building is outstanding and some of my favourites included El Greco’s The Tears of St Peter; a classic blustery Boudin called Beach Scene at Low Tide; the portrait of Olive Boteler Porter which was recently discovered to be a genuine van Dyck panting; and a small atmospheric Goya titled Interior of a Prison.  The breadth of work is impressive, collected during John and Josephine’s time in Paris, and you gain a real understanding of the way in which  French art evolved to become to be a dominant force.  Although many of the art works are hung very high on the walls of the galleries, there are labels with images for each painting which means you don’t miss a thing.  As well as art there are galleries housing silver and metals, archaeological objects, toys, ceramics, furniture and textiles.  I really liked the recreations of the rooms as dining rooms, bedrooms and sitting rooms with the most fantastic items of French furniture.  Their fashion and textile collections are world renowned which his why you will find so many fashion exhibitions are held there.  Having supported their crowd funding project to restore their fifteenth century altarpiece I can now keep up to date with its progress on their blog.


As well as the main gallery spaces there are several temporary exhibition spaces.  These currently include the Birds of Paradise: Plumes and Feathers in Fashion exhibition which showcases breath-taking haute couture gowns including an amazing outfit by Thierry Mugler which greets you as you enter.  Another exhibition was Confected, Borrowed and Blue where artist Paul Scott has decorated familiar crockery and dinner ware with contemporary stories which include the Cockle Pickers Tea Service alongside plates with images of Gaza. You will also see work by Julian Opie scattered around the building including a walking woman who doesn’t seem to get very far and his cheeky version of the Manneken Pis as you enter! It is well worth the entry fee as you can spend the whole day here, stopping for lunch or afternoon tea in the café.  With an Yves Saint Laurent exhibition arriving in July this Museum is a must for fashionistas as well as art and museum lovers.  I definitely intend to return soon.

Paisley Museum & Art Galleries – What Presence!

Saturday, January 24th, 2015
Selected images from Harry Papadopoulos

Rock Photography

What Presence! is a rock photography exhibition of work by the photographer Harry Papadopoulos and curated and produced by Street Level Photoworks and Ken McCluskey, of Scottish band The Bluebells.  If you lived, loved and bought music in the late 1970s and early 1980s you’ll love this exhibition.  It contains traditional black and white images of rock bands on stage including the Clash as well as informal shots of many Scottish bands in and around Glasgow comprising Orange Juice, Josef K, Aztec Camera, The Associates, The Skids, Simple Minds, Altered Images plus many more.  You knew that there were a lot of a Scottish bands around at that time but this exhibition really brings home what a golden era for Scottish music this was as well as record labels and magazines. Poignant images of Billy Mackenzie of the Associates sit alongside early images of Jim Kerr of Simple Minds and we spent the whole time saying “Wow – remember that band?”   The only drawback to this exhibition is the lack of a soundtrack.  Not cheap to get licences for music these days however it would benefit greatly from a soundtrack.  It’s a rock photography exhibition but people were walking around quietly and talking in hushed tones.  We played a bit a music as we walked around and visitors loved it…. That said, it’s a great trip down memory lane and brings out a sense of nostalgia for those 80s days.  It isn’t entirely devoted to Scottish bands and you’ll also find images of David Bowie, The Specials, The Birthday Party, Bauhaus and Cabaret Voltaire among many more.  Street Level hope that this touring exhibition will bring increased exposure for the work of Harry Papadopoulos who, having worked for the Sounds music newspaper as well as Marvel Comics, suffered a brain aneurysm in 2002 and now lives back in Scotland.

If you’re in Glasgow, Paisley is only 10 minutes away by train so pop down to this FREE exhibition and indulge in some good old fashioned nostalgia for those heady pop days – just bring your own soundtrack and headphones!


French Drawings – Poussin to Seurat – Edinburgh

Monday, April 18th, 2011

We at Intermezzo have decided to introduce an occasional blog which will cover exhibitions and assorted arts matters presented with integrity and independence, was well as clarity, insight and good English.  We will send our own incognito and opinionated man, who will report without too much pretension, and who will be pleased to receive your comments.

My first foray into the Exhibition world for the readers of the Intermezzo blog ….

French Drawings – Poussin to Seraut

National Gallery Complex Edinburgh (admission free- showing until 1 May 2011)

In three rooms on the Upper Level South of the Gallery, this consists of a selection of the hundreds of French drawings the gallery has assembled to complement its French paintings.  As well as the headliners, artists include Boucher, Ingres and Corot.   Despite the large number of visitors and the occasional tutorial in front of the works, this is a fine intimate show. 

If you haven’t seen it before, Etiennne Jeraut’s Family in an Interior is well worth the effort of negotiating the still ongoing tram works on Princes Street.

Sometimes drawings relate to paintings in the collection.  For example, Pissarro is represented with a charcoal work entitled “Figures at the Banks of the Marne near Chennevieres”   If you then stand back from this you can see into another room, where directly opposite you, is his large painting “The Marne at Chennevieres”.   A finished drawing and a preparatory sketch.

Seraut’s work is wholly self evident – always something to do with bathing!  Poussin’s life cycle “A Dance to the Music of Time” is a pen, ink and wash on paper – so good you can buy the postcard…

There is a mixture of finished drawings and sketches, so you might not be moved by much but my goodness you will, dear reader, marvel at the artistic skill on display and revel in the wonderful draughtsmanship.  Enjoy.

For more information on this Exhibition click here

Pissarro’s Chimney – April 2011

The Honourable Mrs Graham by Thomas Gainsborough

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Mary Cathcart (1757-1792) was born to the 9th Earl of Cathcart who was ambassador to Catherine the Great in Russia. Brought up in Russia she returned to England when she was 17 and married Thomas Graham, a Scottish aristocrat.  Very much in love with Mary there is a story that when she forgot her jewellery on the way to a ball, Thomas made a 90 mile round trip on horseback to fetch it for her.  She was considered a beauty of her day and was befriended by Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, while on holiday in Brighton. 

 She died young, at the age of 35, from tuberculosis and her husband was so grief-stricken that he had her portrait covered with a cloth and then gave it to her sister, as he could no longer bear to look at it.  Mary is buried in the churchyard at Methven in Perthshire.  This painting is considered to be one of Thomas Gainsborough’s finest full-length portraits and it was bequeathed to the National Galleries in Edinburgh on the understanding that it never leaves Scotland.

Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. The son of a weaver, his artistic skills were recognised early and he left to study art in London at the age of 13.  His skills as a portrait artist moved him from Sudbury to Ipswich and then to Bath where his sitters were now authors, actors and members of high society. 

In 1768 he was elected a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts and moved to Pall Mall in London.  He was a favourite of King George III and his wife Charlotte and was commissioned to paint their portrait.  He had an uneasy relationship with the Royal Academy and eventually withdrew from them, preferring to hang his paintings in his own studio.  Although he preferred to paint landscapes it is for his portraits that he is remembered including Mr and Mrs Andrews, Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire and of course the Honourable Mrs Graham.

You will find this portrait in Room X in the National Gallery of Edinburgh.

Intermezzo offer assistance with income generation and sponsorship to Museums, Art Galleries and Heritage Properties and provide unique access and private viewings in venues across Scotland. For more information contact us at or on 0141 636 6929

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – #museumfact

Monday, September 27th, 2010


It is a popular myth that the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow was built the wrong way round and that the Architect, upon realising this, jumped to his death from one of the towers!  The myth arose because what is considered to be Kelvingrove’s main entrance looks into Kelvingrove Park rather than out onto Argyle Street, which is the main street.  Today most visitors enter from Argyle Street on public transport however, in 1901, visitors would have entered through the park and it was always intended that this should be its main entrance.

There were in fact two architects – John Simpson and Milner Allen – and they were both very happy with the building when it was completed!  They were chosen from a competition in 1892 and the Art Gallery & Museum was completed and opened in 1901.

The Grand frontage and towers were inspired by those of the great Sppanish pilgrimage church of Santiago de Compostela and the interior was based on an Italian Renaissance palace.  Kelvingrove was paid for with profits from the 1888 International Exhibition and public subscription.

Intermezzo organise private viewings of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and offer assistance with income generation and sponsorship to Museums, Art Galleries and Heritage Properties. For more information contact us at or on 0141 636 6929

The Last of the Clan 1865 by Thomas Faed (1826-1900)

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Last of the Clan by Thomas Faed Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

This painting has come to symbolise the Highland Clearances which was a time when many Scots were forced to emigrate, driven from their land by poverty, or evicted by greedy estate owners.  Although by then the worst of the Clearances were over, the story told by the picture still aroused strong feelings and inspired him to create the most enduring image of this tragic period of Scottish history.

 Grief is written on the faces of the young and old and even the horse, as an unseen ship sails away.  As a viewer of this painting, we appear to be on the departing ship. There is beauty however, in the skilfully painted young women, surely out of place with their London fashions, and the random objects scattered on the quayside.

Thomas Faed was one of the most successful painters of his time.  His work was popular with the Victorian public who queued to see his latest paintings of sentimental Scottish themes. When this painting was exhibited, the Royal Academy had to have barriers erected to control the crowd!

He was born in Gatehouse-of-Fleet in South West Scotland and trained in Edinburgh at the School of Desig, becoming an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy at the young age of 23.

He moved to London in 1852 where he became one of the most successful painters of his time. Although he lived in England, his paintings often dealt with Scottish subjects.  His work was popular with the Victorian public who queued to see his latest paintings of sentimental Scottish themes. He was a technical expert in oils and excelled at still-life details, figures and landscapes.  By 1893 he had become almost blind and retired from painting.  He died in London in St John’s Wood in 1900.

You can see this painting in the Scottish Identity in Art Gallery in the Expression Wing on the first floor of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

For personal daytime and gift voucher tours and private evening viewings of Kelvingrove contact us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

Le Mariage de Convenance 1883 William Quiller Orchardson

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Le Mariage de Convenance - Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Sir William Quiller Orchardson was born in Edinburgh in 1835.  He moved to London in 1862 and among his fellow students was Thomas Faed, who painted The Last of the Clan (see previous blog).  Together with other younger artists he formed an artistic school and social circle of Scottish artists in London.  He painted portraits, everyday scenes and historical paintings and his painting Her Mother’s Voice is thought to have been the inspiration for the HMV advertising icon of the little dog listening to the gramophone known as His Master’s Voice.  This painting was produced in the 1880s during the height of his powers.  He was knighted in 1907 and has a self-portrait in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  He died in London in 1901.

The painting portrays a discontented young wife dining with her much older husband and the colours are subtle and muted.  The lamp over the table highlights the story and is the divide between the wife, and the husband and the butler – the husband seems to have more in common with the butler.  The huge table emphasises the age gap and it appears that the marriage, as well as the meal, is over.  The French title of the piece was to detract from the risqué subject matter as the owner would not have wanted it to appear as a statement on their own marriage.  This is further underlined by the light source, which comes from the front, rather than the lamp above, as if to suggest that this is a scene from a play.  It has a companion piece in Aberdeen Art Gallery called Marriage of Convenience  – After which depicts the husband now alone with his butler.

 You can find this painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum on the first floor in the Every Picture Tells a Story Gallery.

For daytime and private evening viewings of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum contact Intermezzo on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

VE Day – 1945 (L.S. Lowry 1887-1976)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010
VE Day – 1945 (LS Lowry) Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Born in Manchester in 1887, Lawrence Stephen Lowry is one of Britain’s most celebrated artists.  He studied painting and drawing from 1905-1915 at the Municipal College of Art.  In 1909 Lowry moved to Salford with his parents where he remained for 40 years.  The urban and industrial landscape was of great interest to him and he attended art classes at the Salford School of Art.  From 1919 he exhibited his work with the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. In 1965 he was elected to the Royal Academy and given the freedom of the City of Salford.

 Events he actually witnessed in Manchester, Salford or other towns in the north inspired many of Lowry’s pictures.  At that time few artists painted ordinary people going about their everyday lives in bleak industrial cities, so his pictures became very popular.  In this painting, thousands of ‘matchstick’ people are seen thronging the streets to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe.  The grim industrial buildings are enlivened by flags and bunting and there are even some people sitting on rooftops.  Simply by including so many people, Lowry is able to convey the lively atmosphere of the scene.  However, if you look closely, you will see that each one is slightly different in stance, movement, clothing and height, which was quite an achievement considering the number of figures that filled his paintings.

During World War II he served as a firewatcher and undertook his duties from the top of a department store in Manchester.  Perhaps the one of the figures sitting on top of the building is a self portrait?

His distinctive style of painting has led to a large collection of his work to be housed in a purpose built art gallery on Salford Keys on permanent display to the public.

View this work in the Looking At Art Gallery of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, on the ground floor in the East Wing.

 For more information on private tours of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum contact us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at