I always sleep very well in Edinburgh: I stay with friends and the room in which I sleep overlooks a graveyard! Much needed as the changing clocks, seasons and the travel to and from the US has made my sleeping patterns somewhat messy.
Stephen Bottomley is well-known as the head of Jewellery and Silversmithing at the Edinburgh College of Art. A few years younger than me, he had his first retrospective at the estimable "Scottish Gallery" on Dundas Street and very excellent it is too, with a range of pieces from his twenty years' worth of quiet, calm and focused research-based jewellery, exploring the cutting edge of new technologies, be they in terms of design (CAD), production (CAM) or materials (such as heat-exchange alloys from rockets). It is hard to imagine anyone not connecting with his work: his use of subtle forms, exquisite surfaces and soft colours - often from enamels - make even the large "ruff" pieces most appealing.
Stephen Bottomley talking to a guest at the opening of his retrospective.
The exhibition runs until the 28th of November and is well worth seeing. You can download a copy of the catalogue here.
I met up with the irrepressible Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts - someone we are hoping to feature in "Scotland the What?" in November of next year - and spent a few hours ordering a new kilt, as well as discussing art, politics, gourmet pub pies and Alexander McQueen. Anyone visiting Edinburgh should stop by the shop and see what is going on.
Here, he is helping me select a tweed. I decided to go with the one on the top at the front, an organic, hand-woven tweed from Mull. It looks striped but has a very subtle check. I was particularly taken with his jacket, but there wasn't enough of this tweed to make the jacket too. Best thing about the tweed is that they will never produce that particular pattern again: the colours are all natural plant materials or the colour of the wool straight from the sheep and it is lies beautifully between brown and grey.
The National Portrait Gallery was recently refurbished. A remarkable Victorian Gothic building with some stunning Arts and Crafts murals inside, I've always found this place rather dull. Apart from a few excellent pieces, the majority of the collection is worthy paintings of worthy people...
The library in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
The atrium in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
Unfortunately, for all the renovation, it remains what it has always been: dull.
Finally, a gothic image from outside the shop of one of our other potential exhibitors in "Scotland the What?", Joey-D: