With over 10,000 visitors in the first four days, we have been really delighted with the responses to the SNPG opening and to our education programmes.
This weekend coming we have even more events for you at the Portrait Gallery. Today, Friday 9th we launch the Rough Cut Nation book, featuring live music from John Knox Sex Club.
On Saturday 10th we are focusing on the Romantic Camera exhibition with a free drop-in cyanotype photography workshop suitable for ages 8 + and Autograph ABP, one of the UK’s leading photographic agencies, will be in residence and inviting all Scots from culturally diverse backgrounds to dig out their photographic treasures and have their family albums digitised for posterity. Also on Saturday, don’t miss live music and dance from The Sikh Sanjog Girls and Dholki players in the Great Hall and warming winter storytelling for families in our cosy library.
On Sunday 11th December we have the continuation of our free cyanotype workshops, where you can create beautiful blue photographs. If you prefer to explore the exhibitions, then try one of our five free Portrait Gallery trails on a variety of themes. Then in the afternoon, watch out for a special festive edition of Portrait Detectives. Children can collect a detective kit and help Detectives Raeburn and Rothko to solve Scottish crimes and mysteries. And all of these events are completely free!
Last weekend was a blaze of activity! On Friday night we held our first music event in the Citizens of the World gallery. Devised by the Glasgow-based artist Steven Anderson, Your Leaning Neck brought together traditional Scottish singers and contemporary artists. The result was an incredibly beautiful, dramatic and mesmerising performance. Artist Ruth Barker started the evening (above), processing around the gallery barefoot and wearing a scarlet dress, especially created for the performance, which bound her arms to her sides. Arthur Watson created an intimate atmosphere by singing facing towards the portraits and the spellbinding voices of Elizabeth and Sheila Stewart, the last of a long line of singers in the oral tradition, really captured the imagination of the audience. The last group of three singers to perform were led by Hanna Tuulikki whose work is inspired by the Scottish Gaelic oral tradition of imitating bird calls and songs with the voice. In this case they used their extraordinary voices to evoke the oystercatcher, the redshank and seabird colonies.
Then on Saturday 3rd December the fun really began with free festive activities for children including bauble-making and christmas tree decorating in our new farmer Education Suite. With the Portrait Gallery christmas tree in place, the Family Festive Concert with Craigentinny Primary School Choir was a really big hit with visitors.
On Sunday, despite the very cold weather, The Great Portrait Breakout was a very impressive and dramatic success. Sixteen characters from the Frieze literally came to life and escaped from the gallery to the sound of the brilliant band Pure Brass playing the theme to The Great Escape.
The famous Scots created a real buzz in the gallery and lots of noise, especially the Vikings and John Knox who were really out to cause trouble. Robert Burns was as delightfully charming as you would expect, as were Mary Queen of Scots and the handsome and erudite Thomas Carlyle. It was great to hear the specially composed fanfare played in the great hall, and to see the proud composer John Maxwell Geddes there in the audience.
We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has visited so far. It’s been so brilliant to see you all in the building engaging with our exhibitions and events. We’d love to hear what you think so far. And for any of you who’ve not been in yet – what are you waiting for! We are really looking forward to welcoming you and introducing you to your very own Scottish family album.