Art has always been a big part of my life. In Kindergarten my people would exclaim every day ‘For you it’s “a picture a day keeps the doctor away”, isn’t it?’ It was indeed: I wasn’t good at talking to people, very shy for my age, so drawing was a great outlet. Going to museums to see the paintings there was just the next step. I very much believe that art can help us get through life – in fact a recent study proved that appreciating works of art supports our health. Also let’s be honest, could you imagine a life without books, films, theatre, visual art or any other expression of creativity? Being creative can change people and it has certainly changed me over the years, towards becoming a more flexible and outgoing person. Creativity covers all aspects of life and I feel that it can’t be separated from a sense of curiosity about the world. Creativity and objects created through it stand for larger social narratives and developments – just as tourism is a narrative that spans our daily lives – so it makes sense for me to love both.
So, by now everybody probably knows that I love spending time at museums. Especially at this time of the year, it’s a place I can go to anytime. It’s raining anyways, too cold to take long walks and gets dark so early that you don’t even want to think about it. Thus, I recently ended up at Edinburgh’s National Galleries. I initially planned to only see the temporary exhbition but the weather quickly convinced me otherwise. While I definitely wasn’t the only person with that idea, the galleries weren’t very busy.
As for the National Galleries, I haven’t had a chance to visit all of them so far and have often been limited in my time. This time around however, I was able to dedicate a full day to coming face to face with the pieces in the Renaissance, Dutch & Flemish, Impressionism and of course Scottish collections. I knew there would be a lot to see but in the end I was still surprised by the sheer vastness of the different gallery spaces.
Starting out with the upper level gallery dedicated to Northern and Gothic Renaissance, I was surprised by the presentation of the pieces. Everything was very well thought out, with green fabric wallpapers matching the feel of the era. The ground floor walls were painted red, quite a contrast but only fitting with the large-scale, spectacular paintings. Only the lower level seemed to not have gotten the colour treatment it deserved – lots of light grey with a rather modern approach, quite the contrast to the paintings of Scottish artists.
I don’t think I could pick a favourite piece of art, though I have to admit that I greatly enjoyed the Scottish Art section. There was such great variety and pictures such as The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, or representations of local life with The Penny Wedding. Soaking up the atmosphere for a few hours was an all over great experience, and I enjoyed making my way through time with all the different masterpieces. Passing the galleries by era and style really helps to get across the change in style and representation.
Finally, I have to admit that taking pictures was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t want to just snap photos of art, there’s no fun in that and that’s not the point of going to the gallery in the first place. Instead, I wanted to concentrate on small details in the pictures, lines of sight and arrangements of paintings and sculptures that could provide an interesting angle. Was it easy? No, mostly because I was busy looking at everything instead of taking pictures – but it was nice to just be in the moment for a bit.
How about you? Do you have a favourite museum or gallery in the city?
See you around,
The National Galleries of Scotland consist of three separate entities, the National, which I covered above, the Modern and the Portrait Gallery. Each of them is in a different location in Edinburgh, with the National Gallery being located on the Mound, along Princes Street.
The gallery is open daily from 10am until 5pm and until 7pm on Thursdays| Admission is free, though special exhibitions might charge an entrance fee.