Tag Archives: Arts

Kylie Minogue Drops a New Xmas Song into Our Stockings

by Stuart Mackenzie

The Australian music sensation is back, and just in time to spread more holiday cheer. However, this friendly neighbour isn’t singing the traditional carols. Ms Minogue debuted her brand new track ‘At Christmas’ on BBC Radio 2 this morning.

The cheerful tune kicks off with a keyboard-riff, not dissimilar to The Foundations’ ‘Build Me Up, Buttercup’, and accompanying sleigh bells. It’s not long before the ‘Can’t Get You out of My Head’ hit-maker chimes in with lyrics taking you through all four seasons.

She leads us into a chorus of musical cheer juxtaposed with winter blue words that fits right onto our playlist of classic Christmas pop songs.

The jingle may not be ‘Santa Baby’ but there’s a good chance Kylie will once again be the star at the top of this year’s Christmas charts.

Listen to ‘At Christmas’ here:


‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ already celebrating great success

by Nadine Schwizer

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Source: Warner Brothers

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ premiered worldwide last weekend to the delight of Potter Heads.

The Harry Potter spin-off that is set in 1920s New York has already had huge box office success, taking a total of £15.3m over the weekend. The film has enjoyed the most profitable UK box office opening weekend of the year.

The film, written by JK Rowling, is set 70 years before the tales of Harry Potter and follows another English wizard and ‘Magizoologist’, namely Newt Scamander and his fantastic suitcase as they meander around New York City.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ wonderfully merges two dimensions, bringing together the nostalgia of the 1920s and the world of magic. Both these dimensions and the various beasts and creatures are brought to life through stunning digital effects.

The quirky yet strong cast created memorable scenes. Especially Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne brought his unique and captivating charm onscreen, which perfectly matched the nerdy character of Newt. However, the characters themselves seemed to lack in depth a little bit.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ is the first of a five-part series circling around the dark wizard Grindelwald – a name that is likely to ring bells among Harry Potter fans.

While there was only a minor focus on Grindelwald in this film, the ambiguous ending suggests the audience will be seeing more of him in the next four films.

In true Potter style, audiences have been left craving more.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is out in cinemas now.

Vinyl Lovers

Record Store Day took place this weekend, and saw musicians, artists and the record-buying public come together to celebrate the unique scene. Set up in 2007 it was established to promote independent music shops by selling exclusive vinyl recordings to fans.

Our reporter, Shiv Das, spoke to Avalanche Records, in Edinburgh, discussing how the weekend went.

Edinburgh is home to five independant record stores-

1.Avalanche, 5 Grassmarket, Edinburgh


2. VoxBox, 21 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh


3. Elvis Shakespeare, 347 Leith Walk, Edinburgh


4.Underground Solushn, 9 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh

5.Vinyl Villains, 5 Elm Row, Edinburgh


GoodReads Book Choice Awards 2012 Results Announced

The 2012 goodreads winners.
The 2012 goodreads winners.

More than 1 million votes were cast and the results are in for the best books in Goodreads 4th Annual Awards.

J.K. Rowling’s book ‘The Casual Vacancy’ won in the ‘Fiction’ category with 11,525 votes. The Edinburgh author got mostly positive reviews for her first book following the Harry Potter series.  The Guardian referreds to it as ‘a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel’. It tells the story of the English town of Pagford, whose inner turmoils comes to the surface after councilman Barry Fairbrother dies and the community has to elect a new member in his place. It deals with issues relating to drugs, self-harm, and sex. It’s a drastic turn away from the warmth of Harry Potter.

The media hype around J.K.Rowling’s first book for adults has boosted sales. “We had a really steady flow of sales. We were lucky enough to get some signed copies, and they just disappeared before we could get a proper look at them ourselves” says Cat Anderson, a bookseller at The Edinburgh Bookshop in Bruntsfield. She also comments on the content: “It was quite hitting in terms of the social comments she is making, but I personally wouldn’t have put it in my top books list.”

In the Young Adult category, John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ won a convincing victory with 37,438 votes. The story revolves around Hazel, who after being diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, was prepared to die until a medical miracle gave her a new chance at life. She later meets with Augustus at a cancer support group for kids. Their romantic relationship helps her get a new perspective on sickness and health and their influence on her identity and legacy. Ms. Anderson comments that: “Everyone who’s read it has been blow away by it. John Green is a beautiful writer.”

2012 has been a big year for Queen Elizabeth II, the top book in Goodread’s Biography category being Sally Bedell Smith’s ‘Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch’. There has been a sea of books talking about the Queen’s life  “The focus on her being a modern monarch is what has given Sally Bedell Smith’s edge over the others”, says Ms. Anderson

Here is a list of some of the winners and runner ups of the GoodReads Choice Awards 2012.


‘The Casual Vacancy’ J.K. Rowling – 11,525 votes
“Where We Belong” Emily Giffin – 7,841 votes
“Home Front” Kristin Hannah – 6,072 votes


“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” Susan Cain – 7,532 votes
“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” Katherine Boo – 5,356 votes
“The Power of Habit” Charles Duhigg – 3,300 votes

Young Adult

“The Fault in Our Stars” John Green – 37,438
“Easy” Tammara Webber – 8,890 votes
“Slammed” Colleen Hoover – 6,495 votes

History and Biography

“Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch” Sally Bedell Smith – 6,507 votes
“Drift” Rachel Maddow – 4,313 votes
“Killing Kennedy” Bill O’Reilly – 4,280 votes


“The Wind Through the Keyhole” Stephen King – 8,226 votes
“The Woman Who Died a Lot” Jasper Fforde – 5,221 votes
“The First Confessor” Terry Goodkind – 4,510 votes

 What books would make it in your ‘Best of 2012’ list? Do you agree with the choices of voters at Goodreads?

Rare Automaton sparks international interest

The Black smoker is an unusual addition to the Edinburgh auction house

A rare automaton of a black man smoking a cigarette will be sold at auction by Lyon & Turnbull this week. Valued at around £1500, the piece is made by famous Frenchman Vichy and dates from the period 1860 to 1910, known as “The Golden Age of Automata”.

Sourced from a private collection near Dundee, the Black Smoker has mechanical movement to the eyes, mouth and neck. Douglas Girton from Lyon& Turnbull spoke of how the figure’s unusual qualities have sparked an interest among buyers internationally;

“It’s the most viewed item on our online auction. Our customers are excited by the fact that it’s a bit different and quirky, buyers are definitely very curious about our Black smoker!”

The success of the Hollywood Blockbuster “Hugo”, directed by Martin Scorsese, which featured automatons or mechanical robots, has undoubtedly added to the interest of the piece.

Originally used as a promotional piece in the window of a tobacconist, the antique figure remains in excellent condition with the clockwork mechanism in full working order.


The high price tag attached to this once forgotten family heirloom is down to its renowned manufacturers, as Lee Young, automaton specialist pointed out;

“This is very collectible item, especially as it dates from the period between 1860 and 1910 when many small family based companies of Automata makers thrived in Paris. From their workshops they exported thousands of clockwork automata and mechanical singing birds around the world. It is these French automata that are collected today, although now rare and expensive they attract collectors worldwide.”
Lyon & Turnbull is one of the capital's oldest auction houses.

Gustave Vichy was born in 1839 to a Parisian watch and clock maker who, along with his wife, set up the Vichy Company in 1862 with the aim of building and selling clocks, mechanical objects and toys. In 1866, Gustave took over the company and dedicated his time to developing automata while his wife, a seamstress, dressed the figures. The Vichy Company became part of a group of family businesses that thrived in Paris between 1860 and 1910 and known as the “Golden Age of Automata”. Gustave had great success producing advertising automata and one of his models won the Grand Prix at the Great Exhibition of 1900, the only award given to automata or mechanical toys. His son Henry gradually took control of the firm, incorporating Lioret phonograph mechanisms into some automaton models, which were advertised as being able to sing, speak and play musical instruments.

The black smoker goes on sale on the 28th March 2012 at 11.00am at Lyon & Turnbull, 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh EH1 3RR.

Festival tickets on sale this weekend

Tickets for the Edinburgh International Festival will go on sale tomorrow, 24 March 2012.

The famous finale: Tickets are expected to sell out quickly. Image: Tim Rawle / CC license

The festival, which will run from the 9th of August to the 2nd of September, will showcase talents from 47 nations in performances of theatre, opera, dance and music.

4 million people will flock to Scotland’s capital city to watch 40, 000 performances by more than 25, 000 artists. This year will be the 65th anniversary of the Edinburgh festival and the programme will enshrine the values of the Olympic games and global identity.

Prices for the festival start at £6 and discounts will be made available closer to start of the festival. Students and children under 18 will be able to buy half price tickets on selected performances from the 24th of March.

The popular finale, the Festival Fireworks Concert, is expected to sell out quickly, as well as tickets for the opening concert Delius’s A Mass of Life.

Tickets can be bought from Hub Tickets http://www.hubtickets.co.uk/ from Saturday as well as from the Edinburgh Playhouse, Festival Theatre, The Queen’s Hall, Royal Lyceum Theatre, and the Usher Hall, from Monday the 26th of March.

Scotland’s first Festival of Erotic Arts smothers the smut

With Edinburgh International Festival’s much-anticipated summer programme being launched on Wednesday and the first Fringe tickets already on sale, March is the time when the buzz of Edinburgh’s summer festivals really kicks off.

But there’s a new festival in town which is getting the tongues of arts enthusiasts wagging: the Festival of Erotic Arts (FEA).

Running for three days in June, FEA is the first of its kind in Scotland and follows a growing number of cities who have begun hosting such festivals in recent years; Seattle’s Festival of Erotic Art is now in its tenth year, and attracts over 10,000 visitors, while similar events take place annually in Paris, Berlin and New York among others.

As with any new and controversial event, FEA’s programme announcement sparked furore over the weekend, with both the city council and the Church of Scotland voicing concerns over the potential risks posed to vulnerable women and the impact advertising could have on children.

But rather than reinforcing and perpetuating clichés, the festival’s organisers, Itsy Live Events, promise to give a platform to erotic art in all its forms, as well as creating a place for art and performances not otherwise seen in mainstream venues.

Events are typical of any other arts festival; exhibitions and talks include Erotic: Surreal and Abstract and A Spoken History of the Erotic Arts. The innocently named Arts & Crafts Fair is being plugged as “a one-of-a-kind sexy fair” with everything from books to accessories to clothes being sold by craftmakers and artists alike.

For those keen to dip their toe into the erotic water, there’s a beginner’s workshop in Japanese style bondage, which involves decorative ties with ropes. Run by a bondage professional, the ticket price includes a goody bag with lesson sheets, 15 metres of rope, and an all-important pair of safety scissors.

Despite being a short, weekend festival, many of the names involved in the FEA are the crème de la crème of the UK’s fetish scene. London-based Torture Garden’s fetish, burlesque and body art club nights for “alternative arty weirdos” are the biggest in the world, with previous visitors including Marilyn Manson, Dita Von Teese and Jean Paul Gaultier. A debate on the nature of human sexuality will be hosted by award nominated cabaret act, ArtWank, while internationally bestselling author and blogger extraordinaire, Zoe Margolis, will be giving a Q&A on the art of sex blogging.

With Margolis a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer, the FEA is going out of its way to make sure this festival is taken seriously. Describing it as “a sleaze-free celebration of a thriving art form”, there’s an undeniable absence of smut in the way it’s being marketed – and if nothing else, it’s good advertising for Itsy Live Events’ other specialist service, “reputation management”.

Edinburgh libraries ‘will not close’

Central Library, Edinburgh

Quashing fears of community library closures,
Edinburgh City council assured the public that all Edinburgh libraries will remain open.

Across the country campaigners have been fighting to keep libraries open since budget cuts threatened to close some smaller libraries earlier this year. In response to public concerns, the council have published a libraries consultation document outlining plans to bring Edinburgh’s libraries into the 21st century. Under the mantra ‘Better Libraries, Better Lives,’ the proposals focuses on strengthening community connections.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure convener, said: “obviously all local authorities are having to make big savings just now, and we are no exception. But unlike some areas, we have not closed, and will not close any of our libraries – on the contrary, we’re opening more, integrating library services within community facilities to give greater flexibility and make best use of resources.”

The consultation document was released in the same week that Edinburgh’s virtual library received a nomination for “Best use of social media” in the UK Public Sector Digital Awards.

Covering 27 community libraries, the Central Library, mobile libraries and services to hospitals and care homes, the plan aims to cater to all, from children to the elderly.

In order for the libraries to be ‘fit for purpose’ some buildings will undergo refurbishment, a measure that has already been taken in Stockbridge and Portobello. Morningside library is the latest to undergo changes and is due to reopen in a matter of weeks after extensive refurbishment.

Information Services Manager for Edinburgh libraries, Liz McGettigan explains how the library service hopes to evolve: “This is a hugely challenging time and what is set out here will evolve as we continue our dialogue across the city. It will only be through a strong partnership approach that this will be achieved. We intend to continue our innovative public, electronic, educational and cultural programmes, delivered both on-site and virtually. We are also laying the groundwork in this period for a new Central Library.”

Brock emphasized the need for public involvement in helping to shape the future of Edinburgh’s libraries: “In Edinburgh we are shaping our library service based on customer feedback, usage patterns and discussions with libraries’ staff. As we move forward, we’re looking to gauge the public’s views on our draft strategy for libraries. We invite everyone to tell us what they think – your feedback is invaluable in helping us continue to improve this vital service for the city.”

Public consultations on the proposals will take place from December 2011 into January 2012.

Stirling Castle inspires new exhibition

Exterior view of Stirling Castle © Crown Copyright reproduced courtesy of Historic Scotland

Scottish artist, Iona Leishman, is preparing to launch an exhibition
based around Stirling Castle’s turbulent history.

The exhibition, entitled Sense of Place, will open on December 2 and celebrates works inspired by the site’s tempestuous history and outstanding built heritage. The colourful mix of real and imagined subject material stretches to around 80 canvases, many created with light to the dramatic physical outlines and sheer power of the castle’s crag-top location.

Many Scottish kings and queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary Queen of Scots in 1543. There have been at least eight sieges of the castle including several during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Leishman, originally from Perth, has used her broad spectrum of styles to appeal to a wide range of tastes and ages. Her portfolio conjures historical moments inspired by the Royal Court at Stirling, where the intrigues of kings and queens ultimately forged the political legacy of modern Scotland.

“As well as the celebration of the built heritage and history,” she explained, “I’ve created a third category, crossing point, which forms a bridge between the castle and imagination. I’ve painted at different times of the day to capture the contrasts as the light moves around the castle. But when I’m painting figures, I’m trying to bring something out from inside, using impressions I’ve gained of the castle and what I know of its history”.

The potential of this rich source material has allowed Leishman to develop a huge body of work that has attracted interest from thousands of castle visitors. The residency has proved so successful that Historic Scotland, the organisation supporting the exhibition, is now preparing to expand the programme to include other sites.

“This has been an exceptionally productive project, well received not only by visitors and education groups but also by our staff,” said Historic Scotland’s Head of Learning Services, Sue Mitchell.

“Interest, both internally and externally, in what Iona has achieved, has stimulated an expansion of the artist in residence scheme, and work is now underway to create new programmes at Huntingtower Castle near Perth and Jedburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders.”

The show is free to all visitors at Stirling Castle, and can be found in the Exhibition Room within the Nether Bailey complex. All paintings are for sale and an exhibition catalogue is also available.

Top 5 – Arts


The Rum Diary, The Cameo Picture House – Week beginning 15 November 2011

Johnny Depp stars as American journalist, Paul Kemp, who takes a debauched journey to 1950’s Puerto Rico after his life hits a road block. Working for a rundown Caribbean newspaper he continues down a drug and drink-addled path of self-destruction. Lusting after the fiancée of a wealthy businessman is just one of his many misguided ideas, documented throughout in his journal.

An adaption of the novel The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson, this film paints an interesting picture of journalism, and follows the haphazard life of a chaotic guy.



NSPCC Scotland Cupcake Couture – The Merchants’ Hall 19 November 2011

This Saturday, enjoy a stylish cupcake while lending fashion a helping hand. A chic afternoon tea, of cupcakes and cocktails, will be provided at the fabulous Merchants’ Hall. Amidst the alcohol and confectionary a fashion show will be held, featuring collections from some of Edinburgh’s top boutiques and fashion stalls. These delights will be followed by an auction, giving you the chance to donate to a wonderful cause and come home with some goodies for yourself. The NSPCC in Scotland carries offers strong support for vulnerable children.

If you are interested in attending, contact the Scottish fundraising team at 0844 892 0212 or email scotlandevents@nspcc.org.uk.


Edinburgh Cancer Research Art Exhibition – starts 15 November – 20 November 2011

Scottish artists, or artists with Scottish roots, such as Lynn Rodgie, Ian Mastin, and Margaret Shaw will be showcasing their amazing work at the Edinburgh Cancer Research Art Exhibition in Adam house.

The majority of the paintings that will be exhibited are from Edinburgh, however, some of the pieces are from further afield. This exhibition is  enticing and has something for everyone, regardless of artistic familiarity and knowledge. There will also be displays of handcrafted jewellery, wool crafts and pottery.

Opening times are from 10.30am to 6.00pm Tuesday to Friday and 10.30am to 4.00pm Saturday. Refreshments are available.



The Drifters, The Tom Fleming Centre, Edinburgh – 19 November 2011

Edinburgh warmly welcomes the Drifters, one of the biggest soul groups. They will be bringing their catalogue of over 50 hits to entertain Edinburgh. The line up of the Drifters may have changed over the years but the amazing tracks stay the same. Don’t miss an amazing night!

Tickets are on sale from http://www.eventelephant.com/thedrifters and are £22 each.


Top Hat, Edinburgh Playhouse – starts 22 November 2011

Get your dancing hat on for one of the greatest musicals of all time. Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger’s renowned Hollywood hit of the 1930s, comes to Edinburgh’s Playhouse Theatre for the ultimate of entertainment thrills.

Stars Tom Chambers (Strictly Come Dancing) and Summer Strallen (Hollyoaks) play Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont. Jerry is a famous American tap dancer and has travelled to London to appear in his first ever West End show. Here he meets Dale, the girl of his dreams, and pursues her across Europe in a bid to capture her heart.

With hours of amazing music and dancing you will not be disappointed. You’ll find yourself singing along to classics such as ‘Cheek to Cheek’ and ‘Isn’t it a lovely day to be caught in the rain’. A feel good musical comedy is just what you need to make you forget all.


Soundtrack for the city

By Tony Garner

If someone stopped you in the street and asked you to hum a piece of classical music how likely is it that you’d turn to a film score for inspiration? From that slow-motion beach run in Chariots of Fire to Darth Vader’s Imperial Death March, music in the movies has long been a link between popular culture and the classics. Until now Scotland has had no great tradition in the genre, but Tony Garner has been finding out why that may be set to change.

Listen Here:

£250 million to boost Edinburgh’s arts

by Liz Gorrie

Edinburgh needs £250 million to prevent its 73 arts and cultural venues from falling short of world-class standards, a report has found.

The £35 million already earmarked is for arts projects is not nearly enough, the Edinburgh Council report states.

The plan for £250 million refurbishment programme would see venues such as the Assembly Rooms and the Kings Theatre transformed. It would also contribute to the building of new venues such as a 10,000 seat concert arena at Ingliston. £100 million and £50 million options have also been suggested which would maintain current venues but not consider as many new projects.

Arts bodies such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are frustrated with the lack of funds. Chief Executive of the RSNO Simon Woods says “we are…disappointed that…we are again being forced to change plans for concerts which we believed to be absolutely firm commitments”.


The 2008-09 Capital Budget sees 4% of Edinburgh’s spending being put aside for cultural and related services. So it must  be asked if more funds are available if the current council review finds money needs to be injected into cultural services.

The Usher Hall which is undergoing to £25 million refurbishment has already hit financial problems. Plans to re-open in April this year have been shelved due to increasing costs. It will now re-open in August in time for the Edinburgh International Festival. This however has not filled many groups such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) with confidence over Edinburgh’s ability to invest in the arts. The RSNO has had to completely cancel it’s concerts which were to be held at the Usher Hall.

Labour group culture spokesman Paul Godzik commented that “the city has been lacking a proper strategy for its cultural venues and I hope this [council report] can provide this”. In view of the current state of our banks some people are asking that  if the council do decide to increase arts funds where the money will come from.

An Edinburgh council-led review is currently investigating such suggestions and is to report back to councillors in April.