… and if you are in Edinburgh, two remarkable exhibitions at the Dovecot Studios.
Woven yarn cascading down the stairwell.
Dovecot are an internationally known studio of weavers and rug makers, who since their inception in 1912, have made a point of working with contemporary artists of the day. They are now based in the renovated Victorian baths in Edinburgh. The space has been used in a very creative manner, allowing the public to get close to the weavers, while still retaining an air of calm concentration throughout. This was a real nostalgia trip for me, as the building was still a swimming pool when I was a student.
The first exhibition, " Follow the Thread" on the top floor is a gallery of collaborative works between contemporary artists, to make bespoke rugs. I loved this exhibition, although there are no more than 15 rugs on display, as there are full explanations of the rationale for each piece, and an explanation of how two of the most complex pieces were transferred from the painted image to the tufted rug. The samples of blended yarns was particularly instructive and made me look much more closely at each finished surface. No photography allowed so images of the rugs can be found here. The weavers and tufters are working below as you go around the gallery, so there is a terrific understanding of how the pieces are made.
Downstairs, a much quieter, almost monotone exhibition" From Fleece to Fibre" charting the making of a tapestry of a painting by Victoria Crowe. This tapestry has taken over a year to weave. It is a masterpiece of understatement, and it is wonderful to now view both the front and the back, as the back is labelled with the names of the different sheep whose wool contributed to the final piece.
Much more challenging to see were two exhibitions at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, " Witches and Wicked Bodies". I had been looking forward to this one, but found it all a bit samey and rather hard to concentrate on. The preponderance of engravings, etchings and lithographs made it hard going and I wasn't really taken by many of the modern pieces. Not a must-see for me. Then across the road to see " From Death to Death and other Small Tales". I suppose the clue should have been in the title, but this consisted of some very gory and odd pieces ( a comment in the visitor's book was apt and pithy - "usual conceptual kak"), so much so that it was a huge pleasure to go in to a room to a piece by Ernesto Neto, " It happens when the body is the anatomy of time". I should have suspected that a piece of his was coming, as the whole exhibition was pervaded by the aroma of cloves, cumin and turmeric.
It really felt like meeting an old friend and brought back so many happy memories of this exhibition. It is too boring to wonder what state that parquet will be in after having several kilos of turmeric on it for a few months?
Coming after a couple of days of skies like this, life is full of many good things.