Charles Dickens once said coming back to Edinburgh is like coming home. My photographer feels the same way (disclaimer: my photographer is not Charles Dickens). To keep my photographer happy and not too homesick we take an unofficial annual visit to Edinburgh each year. Every visit to Edinburgh I discover something new, occasionally my photographer even finds something new. It amazes me that a human can live in a city for many years and still not have experienced everything. However, I digress.
We began by enjoying a short train ride up the Northumberland Coast. If you haven’t yet done it, Durham to Edinburgh on the train is one of the prettiest train rides in the UK. Trains are underrated and are becoming one of my favourite ways to travel. I ate breakfast as I zoomed by the Northumberland coast and even managed to wave at Holy Island on the way past. It took just under two hours to reach my destination and I had came prepared for rain. Edinburgh on the other hand decided to be sunny, a lovely surprise. I had a strict schedule to follow, so from the train station I headed straight for lunch. My photographer took me to one of their favourite Italian restaurants, Bella Italia on Hannover Street (which does NHS discount, Hooray!). The menu is small but there are a lot of veggiesaurus options. I recommend the Pesto Della Casa pasta and the caramelised onion sharing flatbread.
After having an early lunch I continued on my way down Princes Street, well partly. Princes street is the main shopping thoroughfare so I headed into Princes Street Gardens as soon as I could. No matter how busy Edinburgh gets, the gardens are always a source of quiet and calm. Sadly, I was only passing through on my way to Festival square to make my 1pm ticket slot.
This Edinburgh trip was centred around a very famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh. During the pandemic I found myself becoming more and more interested in art because I found my photographers school art projects hidden in the back of a wardrobe. One piece interested me because of all the blue colours. So I had decided to become a more cultured dinosaur and did some research to find out about it. Turns out it was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh, so I wanted to go to see some of the original art for myself. In a raggy old marquee in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle and The Sheraton Grand Hotel was some of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous work. I thought I would be seeing the paintings in frames, this idea could not have been more wrong.
The first part of the exhibit told the life story of one of Europe’s most troubled artists. In his short life he created over 2000 pieces of art, including 900 paintings and 1100 drawings, which works out at one new piece of artwork every 36 hours, incredible when you think he was only active as an artist for 10 years. I don’t know much about Van Gogh, except he loved sunflowers and posted an ear to someone after an argument. Thinking all artists were wildly successful and happy, I was taken aback by what I was reading about Van Gogh’s life. Van Gogh truly struggled in life and never lived to see any success with his artwork, it is a shame but I am glad it gets the recognition it deserves.
I wasn’t expecting to see any artwork brought to life but seeing Van Gogh’s bedroom was a strange experience. Everything was in place, down to the dirty bath towel on the wall (ewww …). Suprisingly Van Gogh had a great taste in decorating, I loved all of the dinosaur blue.
The entrance to the second exhibit is through a dark passage lit with stars. Once in a darkened room it is time to sit in a seat and experience the art come to life. I love how it invokes all of the senses. For me it was the aroma of sandalwood, lemon, cedarwood and nutmeg which really immersed me in the exhibit. The paintings surrounded me using the walls and the floor. But it was the letters and snippets of Van Gogh’s mind which I found to be surprisingly emotional. I’m 90% sure my photographer was crying but they won’t tell me. The flowers, portraits and sketches surrounded me with amazing artwork.
The room went quiet and dark. Only then did the stars begin to twinkle. I witnessed the painting of not one but two of my favourite paintings be Van gogh; The Starry Night 1889 and Starry Night over the Rhône 1888. The shades of blue and yellow are incredible. My photographer liked the Almond Blossoms the best, though it made me go a bit dizzy when the flowers were moving across the room.
Finally, Van Gogh’s portraits surrounded me. It is incredible to see how much one man changed in 10 years. The room remained quiet after the exhibit, I think many of the humans were taken aback by the artwork. It really changes your perception of a painting when it comes to life.
To get to the exit, I had to make my way through a sunflower maze. OK I’ll admit, it was pretty small and easy to navigate. Still a lot of fun and a great place to jump in the back of the humans selfies.
Sadly the exhibit was over but I did buy a book to keep. My photographer decided to go and explore the newly built St James shopping centre. I on the other had bought a mint tea and sat in the sunshine in Princes Gardens. The perfect way to spend an hour before jumping on the train back home.
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