Pining for the West

Edinburgh (Capital Punishment) | October 18, 2009

We had a lovely day out in Edinburgh yesterday, keeping well away from Princes Street. I’m from Glasgow and we laughingly call such a trip capital punishment.

First we visited the National Gallery of Modern Art, it has free plentiful parking and free entry so no worries there.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

We used to take our boys to the gallery quite often when they were wee, you can’t start them off too young. I can’t tell you how impressed an art teacher was when one of them recognised a Henry Moore from a photograph.

Reclining Figure

Unfortunately there is a Damien Hirst exhibition on at the moment and it just left me completely cold. Fish, a dead sheep and a medicine cabinet. I just don’t get it at all and to me his whole career has come about because the so called experts weren’t brave enough to stand up and say what garbage his ‘art’ really is. The diamond encrusted skull was so unoriginal and boring.

I watched Newsnight Review last night and Kirsty Wark and company seemed to be surprised by how bad his attempts at more traditional art were. Actually, they wondered if he had deliberately made poor attempts as they didn’t seem to think it was possible for the great Damien Hirst to be so evidently talentless.

Well, I’ve never seen any evidence that he has ever had any talent. It’s just The Emperor’s New Clothes all over again.

Anyway. To shake off the Hirst mind numbingly boring experience, we decided to take a walk along the Water of Leith path which is just at the back of the Gallery.

Water Of Leith 1

We hadn’t been that way before and decided to turn left and took the path to Stockbridge rather than Balerno as we haven’t the foggiest notion of what there is to see at Balerno.

Water Of Leith 2

It was a really lovely day and it was quite busy down there what with joggers, walkers and cyclists. The water was really picturesque with great reflections of the autumnal trees.

Water Of Leith 3

I was surprised that there is so much housing along the way and some really great buildings, both modern, old and sort of repro. It must be a popular place to live as it is so rural but close to the city.

It wasn’t long before we were mounting the steps leading to Stockbridge which always seems to be quite villagey to me. It even has a traditional butcher shop and I can tell you that they are really thin on the ground in Scotland now – and I never thought I would find myself saying that. That’s Tesco for you.

There are nice independent shops like a cheesemonger as well. It’s just a pity that there are so many charity shops, although I shouldn’t really complain about that as we did buy quite a few books. Now we just have to find space for them, usual problem. It was nice to see that Scotmid has taken over the old Woolworths shop as I know that the local residents had a bit of a battle to stop one of the big supermarkets from taking it over. That would have killed off the whole area shop-wise.

So if you ever feel tempted towards capital punishment do yourself a favour and shun Princes Street for a nice slice of real Edinburgh life.



  1. Cor! Sounds GOOD! I’ve never been to Scotland, we keep saying we’ll go. Really fancy Edinburgh too. It sounds just up our street too! It’s never to early to appreciate art. Art is everywhere! Life is an art in itself (especially the way I do it, lol!) Hirst though, don’t mind him, I don’t take him that seriously. Those that do though pay him shed loads of money! His ideas are simple and cliched…and they do keep paying him for them don’t they lol! I was quite impressed with a piece of his called ‘A Thousand Years’ all it was was a glass tank with meat, flies and a insectocuter. The life cycle reproduced itself was born and died all in that tank. It did make me think about our own existance: our own life cycles. How were they any different to what went on in that glass tank? Because we think we’re more important? maybe those flies fel the same (in fly thought..if they have thoughts lol!) One of the purposes of conceptual art is to make the viewer think and question. In a lot of art we are admiring the technique, the mastery of the artist (ego). In Hirst’s case there is no mastery of painting technique, only ideas. Nice work if you can get it lol!

    Comment by echostains — October 19, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

    • Can’t believe you’ve never been to Scotland. I’m a bit with William Morris in that I like art to be a thing of beauty. I don’t need flies and such to make me think, but hey we’re all different. During the industrial revolution loads of people ended up in Glasgow from all over Scotland. My lot from the east and husband’s from the north east. Glasgow is still far more vibrant than Edinburgh. Do you know of any surnames from your Scottish lot?

      Comment by piningforthewest — October 20, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

      • Hhe I sure do, they were CARRUTHERS (loyalists to the Bruce). I’ve got a feeling they went to Glasgow you know. This Great Grandmother who lived on Lewis had mismatched coloured eyes (my mum’s got them and so has my daughter). She was into herbs and stuff… the eye gene is still going strong lol!
        I would go to Lewis tomorrow, if I only had more information.

        Comment by echostains — October 21, 2009 @ 11:28 am

      • I’ve only seen a couple of people with mismatched eyes. They are lucky to have such an attractive look, I think. I’ve never been to Lewis but I have heard that it is so windy there that you can hardly ever hang out a washing as either it gets ripped to shreds by the wind or it ends up in Norway.

        Comment by piningforthewest — October 23, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

  2. Lol! Washing ending up in Norway! It sounds good though. I believe there are standing stones and bogs (two of my favorite things). We will go one day, but I’d rather go with information when I do.

    Comment by echostains — October 24, 2009 @ 11:53 am

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