Bad news just in regarding The Great Tapestry of Scotland: one of the panels* has been stolen from the exhibition currently on at Kirkcaldy Galleries.
Here's the text of the press release I've just received:
HELP FROM THE PUBLIC CALLED FOR IN SEARCH FOR GREAT SCOTTISH TAPESTRY PANEL STOLEN FROM KIRKCALDY GALLERIES
Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) has called for the public to help track down one of the panels from the Great Tapestry of Scotland that was stolen from Kirkcaldy Galleries on the morning of Thursday September 10th.
The panel illustrating the story of Rosslyn Chapel was removed from display at around 10am.
The Great Tapestry is one of the biggest community projects in the world, with 160 individual panels, stitched by more than 1,000 volunteers. The Tapestry has been on display at Kirkcaldy Galleries since 20 June and in that time over 50,000 people have been amazed and delighted by the scale, quality and exuberance of the design and fantastic detail of the stitching.
Fife Cultural Trust is working closely with the police to review CCTV footage.
Laurie Piper, Head of External Relations for Fife Cultural Trust said;
“We are proud and delighted to be able to have the Great Tapestry here on loan, and to give the people of Fife the opportunity to experience this amazing artwork at first hand. The Tapestry has been exhibited all over the country and has been seen by over 300,000 people since it first started touring.
The people of Fife have taken the Tapestry to their hearts and we are now hoping that they will help us to bring [the panel] back where it belongs - alongside its 159 companions.”
The panel was designed by artist Andrew Crummy and lovingly stitched by volunteers in Midlothian. The panel took hundreds of hours to create and has now been stolen from the people of Scotland.
'This is a terrible blow for a project that has brought so much joy to so many people. I appeal to those who have taken this panel to return it. Words cannot express how shocked I am that somebody should damage in this way what is now widely seen as a great national treasure.’ Alexander McCall Smith, co-chair of The Great Tapestry of Scotland
Members of the public who may have information regarding the whereabouts of the Rosslyn Chapel panel are urged to get in touch with the local police on 101 or Fife Cultural Trust on 01592 583204.
The remaining 159 sections of the tapestry will be open to the public to view at Kirkcaldy Galleries until 20th September.
"Each colour is unique, but no colour can stand alone. To get the full value of its unique colour it must have other hues by its side, not for mere contrast, as black, say, contrasts with white, or square with circle, but prismatically to break up the rays of colour, as a shuttlecock is tossed, to and from the waves of light. Thus all the most brilliant things of nature are composed of tiny facets or mirrors which reflect and re-reflect each other - kingfisher's breast, jay's feather, butterfly's wing, fish's scales, flower petals in all their transparency - each may appear one hue, but in reality under a microscope are made up of many varied hues in true harmony, heightening each other's brilliance. So we cull our colours here and there, up and down the scale to create the particular colour we have in mind.
Yesterday I set out to pick a yellow bunch to place as a lamp on my table in dull, rainy weather. I picked Iceland poppies, marigolds, yellow iris; my bunch would not tell yellow. I added sunflowers, canary pansies, buttercups, dandelions; no yellower.
I added to my butter-like mass, two everlasting peas, magenta pink, and all my yellows broke into luminosity. Orange and gold and lemon and primrose each singing its note. Pleased with my success I added more sweet peas and drowned my yellow completely. Another colour emerged, not yellow. Each colour thus created by a supremacy over the other colours it finds itself among, has its own message, and this message is sufficient for the gamut of human thought, and corresponds to it; as music can correspond to it. The same science of intervals plays upon human emotion."
"Red is always an assault, an insult, a danger cry, shouting Revolution! Robbery! and paradoxically, 'Homage to the King'. It is the taunting flame out of the primal volcano. It is the easiest colour to see. Man saw it first. Orange is an open colour expressing prosperity and plenty, sunbaked universe, and laughter under the sun.
Yellow is the atmosphere of wisdom, reflection and calm. Green is quieter still, rest and content, the emerald ripple of wave and flow. Blue is the colour we love most, its suggestion is the lark's song, hope that soars into the stratosphere. Indigo is tragedy, like red it can stand almost alone, crying to Pluto's intense blackness, to death, and to Faith.
This conjures violet, whose magic is perceived only by keen-eyed men, but it is known by song birds and honey bees. Its wish can only be used by the great colour masters, and it is a safe indication of their mastery. It has been caught best by the Eastern painters, seeing in psychic sunlight [...] for it calls to a colour beyond itself on the scale, a colour that our eyes cannot see, although we know that it is there by the power of its ultraviolet rays. Maybe we shall see this colour some day when we have trained our eyes more precisely. Some eyes even now, looking at a rainbow or prism, can see beyond the violet, a faint trace of fuchsia pink, the indication of the red, the first colour of the rainbow into which the colours flow in their completed cycle. For past the gap we cannot see, the violet flows back into red again. Look at the double rainbow in the stormy sky. Can your eyes see a hint of this unknown colour between the outer bright rainbow and its echo?"
In London last weekend, we combined a day at Lord's for the Ashes test with a visit to Dulwich Picture Gallery for the Eric Ravilious watercolours exhibition. I enjoyed both, but no prizes for guessing which was rather more my cup of tea.
Go and see the Ravilious if you get the chance; the video above gives a flavour, and below are two of my top favourite paintings.
The Greenhouse: Cyclamen and Tomatoes, 1935
James Russell, in Ravilious in Pictures: Sussex and the Downs, says of this: "As yellow tomatoes ripen on the vine above, twin lines of cyclamen in orange pots draw us through one open doorway then another, until we are faced by the final, closed door, so pale and faint it seems to float just above the centre of the picture... This greenhouse pulls us into an intense interior world."
Wet Afternoon, 1938 - my kind of weather.
Pentreath & Hall (among others) are selling prints of this, and Little Toller have used it for the cover of Gilbert White's The Natural History of Selborne.
Here in Edinburgh the other day I heard Joanna Trollope at the National Gallery of Scotland talk on a novelist's view of portraiture. "Our faces are our shop window to the world," she says, and a portrait is "the ultimate tribute, the final monument ... having a majesty a photograph can seldom achieve." As a judge of the BP Portrait Award last year she has studied and appraised more 'likenesses' than most of us, and as a contributor to the Imagined Lives exhibition at the NPG in 2011/12 she created fictional biographical material for the unknown sitters of 16th- and 17th-century portraits.
As a novelist, she has always looked at faces very intently - people are her stock-in-trade - and she works with a strong (mental) visual image of her characters, although she has never created a character based on a portrait, as Tracy Chevalier has so successfully done. In her lecture she looked at four famous portraits*, discussed the faces their sitters are presenting to the world, the eloquence of their expression as captured by the artist, and the messages - implicit or overt - they convey.
The Great Tapestry of Scotland is on the move again and will be exhibited at Stirling Castle from the 31st. of January to the 8th. of March. There is no additional charge to view the Tapestry, but normal admission prices for the Castle itself will apply.
Then from 20th. June to 20th. September, the work will be on show at Kirkcaldy Galleries (conveniently situated next to the railway station).
Meanwhile, plans for a permanent home for the Tapestry at Tweedbank in the Borders are taking shape, but if you are far from Scotland you may have to make do with pictures of the piece, so you could scroll down through the archived posts for various reports from work-in-progress to finished object, look out for the book which contains images of every panel, or watch the slideshow above (which hopefully will work!).
You may have seen this post featuring Salisbury Cathedral's beautiful font; now here is the font illuminated by Bruce Munro to stunning effect. As you'll learn from the video, the pulses of light are Morse code for the story of the journey of the Magi as told in Matthew 2:1-12.
Autumn (or Profile of Lydia Cassatt), Mary Cassatt, 1880.
There are still a couple of weeks left to see the American Impressionism exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (which I mentioned here) - above is one of the highlights, and look at the fabulous autumnal colours of Lydia Cassatt's shawl.
Yesterday I went to one of the events connected to the exhibition: American Impressionists in the Garden, an illustrated talk by garden historian Caroline Holmes which covered plants, garden design, social history, symbolism in paintings, and more; fascinating in itself and a great exercise in looking.
"The next time I pass the huts down on the river, Mac himself is sitting outside with a board across his knees. He has a jug before him stuck with a few sticks and he is using a tin paintbox like a child's. I stand and watch him. He's drawn the outlines first in pencil and now he's using the tip of his brush, spreading colour, filling the dry wood of the twigs from inside. I squat down beside him. He has a stem of larkspur, must have picked it from the Millside garden, and he squashes the brush into the powder, stirs and flattens it until the pink is mixed, and then he lets it spread out inside the pencilled lines so that the edges catch it like a dam. He uses blue, the crushed blue of canvas, and yellow and red for spots and creases that I don't see are there, overlapping each other and ballooning into buds, so that they seem to be growing right there before us, the stalks silvery, the leaves grey."
A visit to the American Impressionism exhibition currently on at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is recommended if you are drawn to Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent, for example, and Monet, Degas, Berthe Morisot and others whose work influenced them.
Lady Agnew is there (and do listen to the curator, Frances Fowle's brief podcast - no. 12 - or watch her video on that work), and alongside her is the painting shown here: Sita and Sarita by Cecilia Beaux, "a stunning exercise in flamboyant technique," of which you can read more here.