Suntrap Garden, Edinburgh

I discovered Suntrap Garden is a wonderful oasis at Gogarbank on the west side of Edinburgh.  It was given to the National Trust by George Boyd Anderson in 1966 for horticultural education as a gardeners learning resource.  The house he had built on the site was also well ahead of its time and has been preserved intact, and is full of 1950’s period features.  We had a wonderful afternoon exploring the grounds and were shown round the house which I loved.

Suntrap was cared for by Oatridge College for many years but the college no longer requires the site and although Suntrap is being beautifully looked by keen and devoted volunteers the National Trust want to sell the property, at full commercial value, to developers.

If you haven’t been to Suntrap Garden go now before it is too late!  They are open Tueasday and Friday 10.30am to 4pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12.30 to 4pm.  This link to their website seems a bit unreliable, but if you google Suntrap Garden, Edinburgh it appears pronto!




I have been filming my worms.  They live in a wormery bucket in my kitchen and produce the caviar of composts from our rubbish.  I had this film with an audio accompaniment of the song “If I were a rich man” from Fiddler on the Roof..but their are copyright issues to putting that on here is just 6 minutes of the worms quietly getting on with their own business.

Portraits –

Just playing around with ideas around portraiture..various people have been very tolerant and agreed to sit for me.

I really like this piece of my cousin Sarah and uncle Jimmy sitting in our front garden.  You can’t see it but there was a lovely strong smell from the paving slabs which are planted up with thyme.

Angi and Gordon sat on stiff upright chairs in front of a much more immobile background..capturing a much more historic classical approach.  I suppose I was thinking of some of the very formally composed portraits of couples and families I saw at the August Sander exhibition.  He experimented with the man sitting and the woman standing in one, and then the opposite way around in the next image.  I asked them to sit beside each other both facing the camera, and I like the result very much.

Michael and portraiture

My amazing friend Michael Marten took my portrait earlier this summer with his 1953 Rolleiflex camera..manual everything, all back to front..about as far from the unthinking click as taking a photograph can get.  We were in front of the Dean Gallery close to a favourite work of mine, Nathan Coleys illuminated pronouncement that “THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE”  which was very difficult to capture on a bright day.  Here he is setting up..

To see the result of Michael’s work look at his blog..

This experience has got me thinking much more about the nature of portraiture and its formal conventions.  My mothers family took cine films and I have a box full dating back to the 1930’s.  I showed my 95 year old great aunt Patricia one of the oldest.. she saw herself as a young woman walking along and talking with her mother.  The past seemed very much present.

Narcissus at the Fruitmarket

Earlier this summer there was an exhibition at Edinburghs Fruitmarket Gallery titled Narcissus.  Narcissus is a Greek mythological character who appears in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in 8 AD, he falls in love with his own reflection which he sees in the still surface of pond, and spends the rest of his short life gazing longingly upon himself until he wastes away entirely.  What an idiot.  Anyway this myth has inspired various artists and the Fruitmarket brought together a number of disparate works that referenced narcissism and self love.

I enjoyed Yayoi Kusama’s installation Narcissus Garden for the combination of its simplicity and effectiveness and the creepy feeling it gave me in the context of this exhibition. A large area of the first floor of the gallery was taken covered with these hardened mirrored balls, all of which seemed to have a distorted image of Me in them, me me me everywhere looking back at me..TOO much..and you could wander through this field of balls but I felt crowded out by so many images of me coming along too even though I was the only living breathing human in the gallery at the time.

The other artwork I sat and wondered at was a work by Pipilotti Rist titled Sip My Ocean (1996).  Using two large scale double screen projectors projecting on to adjacent walls the images being mirrored versions on one another.  Images of Rists body underwater, seaweed and coral and various artefacts such as the heart in the image below.  Along with the sound track, the size of the screens across two sides of the space and dwarfing the audience it felt quite overwhelming.