At the McManus

The Beano takes over museum, but there’s also a portraits show on and of course old favourites — possibly obsessing a little too much about Duncan‘s Riders, but there it is.


Wendy in Dundee

It was great to have my dear friend visit the city I love! We saw art, the dragon and the Howff, our local and more — then wandered about before heading to Edinburgh for the weekend (more pictures to come).


Reflections on Celts


I dropped by the McManus to check out what was on and caught the Reflections on Celts exhibit which combined a few of their own treasures with borrowed items from the British Museum and the National Museums of Scotland. You can see my pictures here (along with the other two exhibits on) and read more about it here. I was unable to resist buying things in the shop but mostly kept myself to buying cards to send off to other people and a book on medieval Scotland because that is a woeful lack in my knowledge (and a potential site of new research). As you can see, Duncan’s Riders of the Sidhe has come down from the upstairs gallery to gallop through this exhibit.

Frances Walker @ the McManus

Always a delight to visit the McManus Galleries in Dundee. I visit my favourites like Rossetti’s Dante’s Dream and usually the Sidhe Riders though that seems to be wandering again. I’m always interested, too, in seeing what’s new. There’s a terrific drawing exhibit on with a wide variety of images and styles called Draw the Line: Old Masters to the Beano. There’s also a showcase of new acquisitions which included someone who just bowled me over completely: Frances Walker.

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This is just a glimpse and probably cannot convey how utterly stunning these landscapes of Antarctica are or how agog the prints she made as cards will render you but trust me. If you are in the area, you need to see these. Absolutely breathtaking! I swear they made the room colder by putting you into the glacial waters. Her diary in the case made me want to break the glass and flip through it to see everything through her eyes. The exhibit catalogue (which I guess is actually from the original showing in Aberdeen) also has her paintings of the islands in the west, especially Skye but also Orkney so I must have it — and was heartbroken they didn’t have it in the shop (though apparently they’re trying to get it).

Absolutely amazing that she gave the paintings to the McManus:

Frances Walker is acknowledged as one of Scotland’s finest artists. Inspired by wild and remote places, she captures the edges of civilisation – scenes of rugged coastlines and craggy beaches. She had long wanted to visit the Antarctic and realised her ambition after being presented with the James McBey Travel Award in 2007. The result is a series of paintings in which she evokes the dramatic icescapes of Antarctica. It is the most significant gift by an artist to Dundee’s nationally significant fine art collection for over 25 years.

Here are a couple videos. I cannot tell you how much I love her work. I need more!


TOA/V: Photography in Dundee

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There are a couple of good photographic exhibits on right now in Dundee. At the Central Library there’s a great display of photographs of archival material from the building of the original Tay Bridge and then the terrible disaster that occured in 1879 (as immortalised by the bard McGonagall, AKA the worst poet in the world). It’s so sad to read the long lists of those lost, but there’s something especially poignant about the list of lost items retrieved on the shores.

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At the McManus Galleries they’ve got “A Silvered Light”: curated by Susan Keratcher, the photos have been selected from the Dundee City permanent collection and offer a pictorial history of the city and much more, as native photographers wandered around the world and brought back their treasures captured by the lens. The juxtaposition of time periods, styles and artists’ visions brings out unexpected vision. See the feature on Art in Scotland TV. Also worth a visit is the companion display, “Re:New” which highlights some of the treasures from the permanent collection of modern art. A few were familiar but there was a lot I’d not seen before.

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There’s always so much to see in Dundee, from the Howff to the memorials for Grissel Jaffray, the last woman executed as a witch in the town (and the subject of the very enjoyable Claire-Marie Watson novel The Curewife). I had been meaning for the longest time to snap a picture of the memorial and the mosaic that leads down the passage off the Murraygate.

PCB The Boys

Of course my favourite photographs have very little to do with art, but the subjects are always a delight even if we’re just hanging around the bus stop on the way to granddad’s on a Sunday.

See the Tuesday round up of overlooked audio and visual gems at Todd’s blog.

Slang Bling at the McManus


My crazy Dundee adventures continue: yesterday I was down at the McManus Galleries getting a prize thanks to Bonnie Bling! I had entered their Slang Bling contest with the word “Oary” which I of course learned from Gary Robertson and The Cundeez long ago on Twitter.

There were other folks there, too! But somehow I ended up getting my picture in the paper because of my story: this word of course led to my being in Dundee — Gary being my punk rock Cupid is how I met my sweetie, Mark.

Bling in the Courier

So despite all the photos they took of everyone there including fellow contest winner Kevin McGinley and the retail co-ordinator for the McManus, Daniel Grey, they used this goofy one of me in the Courier story.


Thanks to photographer Alan Richardson for coaxing me into such a silly pose. Thanks to Hazel Saunderson for coordinating things. They misspelled my name, alas, but the slang words were the important thing (though I’m sure my publishers would have been happy if I’d managed to get a mention of one of my books in the story…)

Test your Dundonian! Do you know what they mean?






Slang Bling

Byron’s Visit



It’s always lovely to have visitors. I hadn’t actually seen Byron face to face since the witchcraft conference at Harvard years ago. Of course we keep up via social media (which is one of the many reasons I love it), but it was great to have a chance to catch up in person and have her meet Mark and Allan. We took her around to some of Dundee’s best sites including the Howff, the McManus, Discovery, the dragon as well as the other lovely sculptures, and many fine cafés and pubs. I think it was a success.

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