Day: 29 October 2020

Scottish National Gallery 29/10/2020

Sir Henry Raeburn, Major William Clunes, died 1830

Found it humorous that the first painting that greeted me/caught my eye upon entering the gallery was this huge horse’s rump. Funny to me that this was ever commissioned. Something weirdly provocative/domineering about it – big MASCULINE I AM A MAN energy. Animals in oil paintings represent wealth & status – Major William Clunes had a phatty? Poor horse.

John Singleton Copley, The Surrender of the Dutch Admiral de Winter to Admiral Duncan at the Battle of Camperdown (The Victory of Lord Duncan)

This painting represents the majority of pieces shown in this gallery/the old tradition of oil painting to me. All male, heroic poses and some duke dressed in his finest spotless uniform illuminated from the background workers. Boats and disasters – wins and losses and war and losses. In the gallery this painting is huge – takes up an entire wall, (and the walls are very big) – intended to be impressive but from modern eyes just screams of male narcissism and privilege. Not a fan.

Sir David Wilkie, General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tippoo Sahib after having Captured Seringapatam, on the 4th May, 1799

A sign about reviewing gallery collections after recent events (BLM implied) accompanies this work in the gallery. It talks about colonialism and there’s some attempt at acknowledging British involvement/crimes. Not much of an effort tbh. I liked this painting much more in the gallery than online as it’s so big it takes up an entire wall, and as such the body of the sultan lays at eye level with the viewer, while the general is hidden by light reflections. I thought the lower part of the painting was quite beautiful, feeling very soft and intimate, almost romantic. I like that the display of the piece in such a way, intentional or not, changed the narrative and meaning of it, for me at least.

Thomas Gainsborough, The Honourable Mrs Graham (1757 - 1792)

I liked her dress, the fabric and trim detail looks absolutely beautiful, and she has gorgeous diamond shoes. I need a dress with that neckline and bust shape, and the pearls and central red jewel are beautiful. Noted in the gallery how pale this woman is painted – white like porcelain. Also thought that the display caption was rather romantic and mysterious.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Meeting of Anthony and Cleopatra

Funny pose – Cleopatra gives no fucks, I wish more women in these paintings had the attitude of staring over men’s heads like they pay them no second thoughts other than as servants.

Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn), A Woman in Bed

Caught my eye because of the nude /naked debate (John Berger, Ways of Seeing) at first I thought it might be a genuine (semi)naked piece, the lady seems off guard and the posing is somewhat natural, however after having thought about it a bit more I’ve concluded that this is indeed more of the (semi) nude, as the women is clearly posed. The piece is also linked to a story from the Old Testament, of Sarah and Tobias, therefore making it a posed, staged, fake scene. The golden jewellery worn in the hair also points to this conclusion – what woman willingly sleeps in jewellery of her own accord.

Jan Lievens, Portrait of a Young Man

Probably my favourite piece seen today. Love it. Beautiful painting, light/colour/darkness/contrast is compelling, inviting, mysterious, antiquated, seductive, secretive. Robes painted to create a fine and supple texture. Compelling, intriguing and handsome face. The caption only adds to the intrigue “Once thought to be a self-portrait, the pose and costume of the sitter were probably significant in some way that is now unclear.” Lovely stuff.

Sir Henry Raeburn, Reverend Robert Walker (1755 - 1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch

This painting stands out from its surroundings because it looks almost surrealist in comparison to its neighbours. I think its a combination of subject, pose and background – but most notably the pose. Kinda weird and I think I liked it.

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, The Interior of St Bavo's Church, Haarlem (the 'Grote Kerk')

Gorgeous, detailed, sense of place just from looking at it. My only critique is that while the artist has clearly tried to accentuate and dramatize the architecture to the utmost degree, in a manner that is mostly convincing, the figures on the left side of the piece don’t quite match the scale of the piece at all. They look like dwarves or mythical creatures because they are the same height as the pews. When I noticed this it distracted me from the grandeur and beauty of the painting, but also adds some charm and interest to the piece. The chandelier is particularly beautiful.

Not sure if meant to be an artwork or not – probably as it is cordoned off but I could not find a plaque for it. Would love to touch/lay on it. Inviting & seductive.

Cariani (Giovanni Busi), Portrait of a Young Woman as Saint Agatha

One of my favourite pieces at the gallery. Firstly I was caught by the face of the girl depicted, which seemed to me somewhat different from the typical oil-painted female face – she has more character and is therefore more realistic, I feel as though I’d like to get to know this woman. Secondly, the story behind the piece (and why she has a pair of breasts on a plate), a woman who was punished for refusing the advances of a man, but her expression in this piece is unbothered, she doesn’t look like someone to be pitied – a bad bitch from ancient times. Poss lesbian??

Paolo Caliari, Venus, Cupid and Mars

Kinda cool painting. Very big in the gallery, definitely a nude for the enjoyment of rich men, but I like that the man in this image is shrouded in shadow, a second thought as the artist didn’t include him in drawings or prepare his spot with white paint. Free the nipple. Also look at his weird ass FOOT. WHAT THE FUCK MAN HE WS DEFFO AN AFTERTHOUGHT HAHAHA

Night Walk For Edinburgh

‘Art Walk For Edinburgh’, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Participated in/viewed 28/10/2020 at 8pm with mum and mums boyfriend.

Night Walk for Edinburgh; 2019; Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller - YouTube

“Following Janet Cardiff’s voice and walking in her footsteps, as you participate in Night Walk for Edinburgh you will be led through the backstreets of Edinburgh’s Old Town, unravelling a disjointed tale – part game-playing, part surrealistic poetry, perhaps even a murder mystery – layered with history, invention and memories. One of the biggest hits of last year’s Edinburgh International Festival, Cardiff and Miller’s Night Walk for Edinburgh is now a permanent part of The Fruitmarket Gallery’s collection. Commissioned for the city of Edinburgh by The Fruitmarket Gallery.

Night Walk for Edinburgh is a 50 minute walk through the Old Town of Edinburgh after dark. Following a film on your tablet or smart phone and a soundtrack on your headphones, you will walk up Advocate’s Close and along a route that weaves around the Royal Mile before returning to where you started. The route involves c.120 steps up and 30 down, and uneven ground, and is entirely in public, un-invigilated space. It is intended to be a solo experience, but as the walk is at night we suggest that you may want to enjoy it in pairs or small groups with a maximum of 6 allowed per slot. Although it is important that everyone has their own screen and headphones.”

^From the Fruitmarket Gallery website,INFORMATION,returning%20to%20where%20you%20started.

“‘Walking is like the flow of history. One footstep after another,
one event after another. Every time we choose an action or
direction we change everything that might have been.’
Night Walk for Edinburgh
Janet Cardiff (b.1957, Brussels, Ontario, Canada) and George Bures
Miller (b.1960, Vegreville, Alberta, Canada) last showed their work in
Edinburgh in 2008, with their Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition The House
of Books Has No Windows. They return to Edinburgh to explore its
streets in a new video walk. Cardiff and Miller have been making audio
walks since 1991, and began making video walks in 2001, for locations
across the world including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
(2001), dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany (2012), and the
13th Sydney Biennale (2014). The only other walk they have made for
the UK is The Missing Voice (Case Study B) (1999), an audio walk that
takes you through the streets of the East End of London from the
Whitechapel Gallery.”

“In both the audio and video walks, Cardiff ’s voice leads the listener’s
footsteps, gently nudging you along the route, whilst also offering
disjointed observations and reflections that as a whole weave a
nonlinear, and often unsettling, narrative. Filmed and edited by Miller
using a Steadicam and binaural sound recording, the video walks
– called ‘physical cinema’ by the artists – add a second layer to the
sensation of moving through the city. Created using multidirectional
microphones in place of ears, binaural recording results in a sound
environment that is spatially logical, and can often be difficult to
distinguish from its real world equivalent. The effect can be uncanny,
as sounds and images double up, merging fiction and reality, in turn
intensified by the dreamlike quality of Cardiff ’s voice.”

“Through such well-trodden streets, this is neither history walk nor
ghost walk, though it evokes both. Staged at twilight, it not only sits on
the threshold of day and night, but also slips between the gaps of the
usual tourist trails and guided walks, as you navigate the city obliquely,
as if on another plane of reality. At one point Cardiff says: ‘Sometimes
I don’t know if my imagination is leaking into my reality, or if I’m
remembering something.’ Repetitions of signs and figures accentuate
this feeling, flitting between the incidental and the significant, like
clues in a detective novel. Edinburgh emerges as a city of doubles, of
Jekyll and Hyde, of the old and the new, of parallel realities, mingled
with uncanny sightings of Cardiff ’s red-coated doppelgangers. This
atmosphere is redoubled when the screen glitches and jump cuts to
another reality, in which a forensic team appears to be investigating a
crime that took place on the streets through which you move. Who has
been killed? And when did this take place? Like Cardiff ’s unfinished
book, that she tells us she left on the plane, the walk does not offer
answers, creating unease – what have these streets seen?”

^From official guide for NWFE

^Some screenshots taken from about halfway through the video. Unfortunately I didn’t twig that I could screenshot the video earlier, otherwise I would have very much liked to have recorded a few of my favourite moments, such as the scene in the window near the very beginning, the horse statue and creepy men in glasses coming towards you, as well as Kathryn Joseph and Adam Clifford’s performances.

A very enjoyable experience. I loved the medium and the idea, blending reality and experience with film and fiction – a treat for the senses. I particularly enjoyed the audio, as mentioned above audio was recorded using multidirectional mics, so with headphones on the sounds are so eerily realistic that I found myself constantly unable to tell if they were coming from the film or not. There was one particular moment around the second-to-last screenshot I’ve included, where there are a group of menacing looking dark figures above you on the path, and the audio captures their speaking and the heavy breathing of a ventilation system to your right, and the vent is also really loud in real life, so the effect is really disconcerting and overwhelming and makes you feel incredibly paranoid – the narration also reaches a critical point here as she talks about the plot of a book which seems to match the films events and you really question the reality/narrative of the piece.


  • Guided walks as a medium to experiment/work with myself
  • Look into other Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller works and other walking tour works
  •  Love love love Kathryn Joseph’s performance – very unsettling and strange – been listening to her other songs 
  • Look into other performers
  • Wasn’t a fan of the more cliché fantastical elements – the poem notes and murder mystery/forensic team were a bit cheesy. Maybe I like less literal narratives for video work
  • Liked narrators passion for unusual vents – small details in the city that show craftsmanship
  • Would really like to do the tour again by myself but not sure I would feel safe
  • Like that you have to book tickets & turn up at a certain timeslot to allow the video to play – feels like more of an event/performance than if you could just do it whenever and view it on YouTube – more like an art piece? –does art to me have to have some element of exclusivity/removal??
  • Love relationship between film and viewer-entangling the viewer as participant – like the point where you go under the bridge where the violinist plays and you think a man may come up behind you because you’ve already seen it happen once – but you hadn’t seen the outcome
  • Liked that some of it almost felt like trespassing as it took me to places I didn’t know existed and didn’t know I was allowed to go – new places and details pointed out, new appreciation for the city but not in a too historical way
  • Audio audio audio audio