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Art Deco – and more – in Castle Douglas

Castle Douglas is a small town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. (I have seen the town’s name translated into French as Chateau Sans Chien. You have to be Scottish to get this. Castle Dug-less.) It has quite a few examples of more or less deco style.

Nikos Greek Restaurant:-

Nikos, Castle Douglas

Door detail, Nikos Greek Restaurant:-

Door Detail, Nikos, Castle Douglas

A former bank now a kids (clothes?) shop:-

Former Bank, Castle Douglas

Fine carved detailing round and above door on former bank:-

Door Detail, Former Bank, Castle Douglas

Telephone Exchange. Pity the windows’ eyes are poked out on this building:-

Castle Douglas Telephone Exchange

Castle Douglas Library is housed in a rather fine old building:-

Castle Douglas Library

The Weatherhouse by Nan Shepherd

Canongate, 2017, 211 p, including 3 p Glossary: plus ii p Dramatis Personae and vi p Introduction. First published 1930.

 The Weatherhouse cover

I don’t normally pick up a book according to its cover but I did in this case. It helped that the novel was by Nan Shepherd whose The Quarry Wood I enjoyed a year or so ago. Yet I was also attracted by the illustration which is almost in the style of a 1930s railway poster – a very Art Deco form – even down to the lettering. The house shown is actually wrong though; in two ways. It is much more of an English type of building rather than Scottish and it bears no relation at all to the hexagonal construction described in the text. Pretty, just the same.

That titular Weatherhouse is the home in Fetter-Rothnie of the Craigmyle family, which consists of matriarch Lang Leeb plus her daughters Annie, Theresa and the widowed Ellen. The story though, is more to do with how Garry Forbes, the intended of Lindsay Lorimer, in turn the daughter of Andrew, Lang Leeb’s cousin, came to become a proverb in Fetter-Rothnie.

The former Minister’s daughter, Louie Morgan, claimed after Forbes’s friend David Grey had died in the Great War that she and Grey had been secretly betrothed and carries Grey’s mother’s ring about her neck as proof. Forbes, home from the war as a convalescent, is convinced that can not be the case. He attempts, first to bring the falseness of Louie’s claim to the attention of the Kirk Session (which upsets Lindsay) and then to prevent his knowledge of Louie’s theft of the ring becoming more widely apprehended.

Despite what appears to be a focus on small matters The Weatherhouse nevertheless has a wider resonance, and has some humorous observations. The incidental mention of the man who, because of his brother, waited twenty years to wed his fiancée (who nevertheless brought him children “as a wedding gift”) shows life in those times was not entirely as straight-laced as might perhaps be thought.

Human dilemmas and emotions occur in all places and at all times. Shepherd shows us the humanity of her characters, in all their complexity. This is a fine companion piece to The Quarry Wood. Both these novels bear some similarities to Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song and Cloud Howe but don’t quite have the sweep of the first of those.

Pedant’s corner:- Amy Liptrot’s introduction says Shepherd’s writing is very localised to the foothills of the Grampian mountains and quotes two of the words she uses, stravaigin and collieshangie as being specific to that area. Stravaigin certainly has no such specificity.
In the glossary: keeing (keeking,) snored (smored.) Otherwise: “you’re as light ’s a feather” (light’s,) knit (knitted,) chose (choose,) “a moment before made up on her sister on the road” (before she made up,) a missing comma before a start quote mark.

Architecture in Wick, Sutherland, Scotland

On the way up to Orkney in June (posts, passim) we had time to stop off in Wick, Sutherland.

It has some Art Deco buildings! (Well, styling anyway.)

Bank of Scotland:-

Bank of Scotland Building, Wick, Sutherland

Detail:-

Art Deco Detail, Bank of Scotland, Wick

Minor deco style in De Vita’s:-

De Vita's, Wick

Another Bank. The TSB:-

TSB, Wick

A more modern building. It looked as if it was unfinished inside:-

Modern Building, Wick

Wick’s Wetherspoon’s is more traditional in construction:-

The Alexander Bain, Wick

Wetherspoon’s usually names its pubs after a local person of repute. This plaque on a wall round the corner told of Bain’s accomplishments:-

Alexander Bain Plaque, Wick

True to Life Exhibition at Modern Two, Edinburgh

A couple of weeks age we revisited the True to Life Exhibition at Modern Two, (Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art,) Edinburgh.

I’ve left this a bit late as the exhibition is only on for a few more days now. Its full title is True to Life, British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 1930s.

I found this to be much more enjoyable than the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition recently finished at the Scottish National Gallery (see also here.)

The first picture in True to Life, though, David Jagger’s “Conscientious Objector”, would not have looked out of place at that Beyond Caravaggio exhibition. It exploits light in much the same way as those did. This is apparently a self-portrait:-

Conscientious Objector by David Jagger

“By the Hills” by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst features on the True to Life Exhibition catalogue cover though for me it’s a bit too sharply delineated. The artist was said to have used lipstick to paint the lips here:-

By the Hills by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst

Another such too sharp picture was Meredith Frampton’s “A Game of Patience”:-

A Game of Patience by Meredith Frampton

As with the David Jagger painting above Edward Baird’s “Dan Cross” also looks as if it could leap off the canvas. I feel as if I know this person:-

Dan Cross by Edward Baird

Keith Henderson’s The Harbour Crowd is another fine example of the capture of light. As I recall this painting was one of the exhibits in the Palace of Arts at the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938. There was a black and white reproduction in the relevant souvenir booklet.

The Harbour Crowd by Keith Henderson

Some of the paintings in “True to Life” stretched the definition of realist somewhat.

Though it does contain figures (including the artist) “The Deluge” by Winifred Knights seemed to me to be at least influenced by Vorticism:-

The Deluge by Winifred Knights

Nora Russell by John Downton captures the impatient aspect of the early adolescent schoolgirl very well. I get the impression she didn’t really want to be painted:-

Nora Russell by John Downton

Karmsund Strait, Norway

The west coast of mainland Norway has a collection of islands off it which provide a reasonably sheltered passage north (or south.) Many ferries ply the waters, a vital lifeline in the days before North Sea oil and the building of roads to remoter regions, and still going.

Karmsund Strait is a passage between the island of Karmøy and the islands of Vestre Bokn and the mainland in the east.

The MV Black Watch approached the narrowest point of the strait towards nightfall:-

Nearing Karmsund Strait, Norway

These were electric pylons on Karmøy but not I think the ones on the photograph on the link above:-

Cable Pylons at Karmsund Strait

The very elegant Karmsund Bridge crosses the strait’s narrowest point:-

Bridge at Karmsund, Norway

Closer view. Note more pylons:-

Bridge at Karmsund, Closer View

Karmsund Bridge from below:-

Karmsund Bridge from Below

Reverse view:-

Karmsund Bridge Reverse View

The area was fairly built-up compared to the previous parts of Norway we’d seen:-

Houses by Karmsund Strait

There was even a house which might be described as Art Deco:-

Deco Style at Karmsund Strait

These were more Moderne than Deco:-

Moderne Style at Karmsund Strait

Art Deco Lettering, Stromness

I didn’t spot much that could be described as Art Deco on mainland Orkney. The lettering on mosaic background on this shop in Stromness came closest:-

Deco Lettering, Shop, Stromness

Once a soda fountain and coffee salon the shop has now been repurposed to sell clothes:-

Art Deco Lettering, Stromness

Approaching Orkney

Island of Stroma, Pentland Firth. Stroma is not part of Orkney proper but lies to the south:-

Island of Stroma, Pentland Firth

A fortification on Flotta, Orkney. Hard to tell at the distance; it may have been from the Great War, World War 2 or both:-

A Fortification on Flotta, Orkney

Fortifications on South Ronaldsay, Orkney. World War 2 vintage:-

Fortifications on South Ronaldsay, Orkney

More Fortifications on South Ronaldsay. Artillery emplacements. These are almost Art Deco in style:-

More Fortifications on South Ronaldsay, Orkney

Ahoy, Hoy!

Ahoy-hoy was the suggestion of the inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell for the greeting people should use when answering the telephone. I couldn’t avoid thinking of it as we approached the island of Hoy across Scapa Flow on the ferry crossing from the terminal at Houton to Lyness.

Hoy from ferry:-

Hoy from Ferry across Scapa Flow)

Approaching Lyness:-

Approaching Hoy from Ferry across Scapa Flow

Plaque at Lyness Ferry Terminal commemorating the salvaging of ships from the scuttled German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow. Apparently the metal from the ships found use in the space programme as it was uncontaminated by radioactive fallout:-

Plaque at Lyness Ferry Terminal, Hoy, Orkney

Old Fortified Building on Hoy seen from Lyness Naval Cemetery. This must have been to do with either or both of the World Wars:-

Old Fortified Building on Hoy

The Hoy Hotel. Art Deco/Moderne style. We met an Australian photographing the building. He had come to Hoy as that was his surname:-

The Hoy Hotel, Hoy, Orkney

Photo in the Lyness Naval Museum of the Garrison Theatre, Hoy, built by the Royal Marines. Now no more except for the foyer:-

Lost Art Deco on Hoy

Eyemouth

Eyemouth, in the Scottish Borders Region, just a few miles north of the border and of Berwick, is the town where my mother spent most of her childhood before her family then moved to Dumbarton.

It’s a typical Scottish fishing village/town where a river (the River Eye) flows into the North Sea via a harbour.

I’ve been there several times before, as a child with my mother, and later as an adult but it was many years ago now. When the good lady’s blog friend, Peggy, was here last summer we took the opportunity to visit as she wanted to see it.

I hadn’t remembered this decoish set of windows:-

Art Deco Style in Eyemouth

The statue in front of the shop is of William Spears who in the 19th century led a revolt against the tithes on fish levied by the Church of Scotland.

This is the War Memorial, “Sacred to the memory of officers, NCOs and men of Eyemouth who fell in the Great War”:-

Eyemouth War Memorial

The reverse names the second war’s dead and the column’s inscription reads, “Sacred to the memory of officers, NCOs and men of Eyemouth who gave their lives in the Great War II, 1939-45.” Note also Merchant Navy, Fishermen plus Egypt 1952 and Iraq 2005:-

Eyemouth War Memorial

The original Jack Deighton, my grandfather, was the minister at the local Episcopal Church, St Ebba’s, named after a local saint, the Abbess of Coldingham. The Lifeboat at Eyemouth was also named for her as this lifebelt in the museum attests:-

Eyemouth St Ebba Lifebelt

Art Deco in Bruges

There isn’t much Art Deco in the centre of Bruges, of course, but in the approach to Smedenpoort we saw this. Good rounded balconies and column, porthole windows:-

Art Deco Style, Bruges

And that building to the left has an interesting feature – a gold figure of a seated man:-

Gold Seated Man, Bruges

This one was a bit nearer to Smedenpoort. Rounded balcony, pillar, rule of three in windows, projecting canopy:-

Bruges, Art Deco Style Again

This doorway was striking:-

Art Deco Door, Bruges

I photographed this pair on the way back to the car. Note canopy over central bay on the one to the left:-

Art Deco, Bruges

It had a good doorway too:-

Another Deco Door, Bruges

And that greyer one had strong banding and a projection from its roofline. Pity its eyes have been “poked out”:-

Art Deco in Bruges

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