Tuesday, April 14, 2009
(source: Edinburgh tourist guide map)
If any city can claim to inspire magic, it is Edinburgh. Here History finds solace within crevices of tectonic plates, near lava mounds, between valleys, above dead volcanic mountains, along the river & shore and everything else sculpted and chiselled by Geography. This aventure amoureuse of the narrative and the terrain forms a compact jigsaw in the city centre making the entire city walkable and therefore encouraging exploration of every nook and corner to its fullest. The castle, the port, the galleries, the parliament and gardens and bridges were some of the many nooks and corners that my & Nora's feet trod along a span of three days. My well trained sense of misdirection and Nora's inbuilt GPS capacity to absorb city geography, maps and directions as a combination, facilitated us covering more ground but with style.
The first day was spent in visiting the Princess garden that sits within the valley dividing the new city and the old city in the centre. The lowest point in the valley accommodates the rail tracks that cut in between the green slopes that hide the city. The old city, sitting along a rising slope comes across as Les Triplettes de Bellevillian city shot with diverse elevations arranged one over the other.
The exploration of The Royal Mile with its sloping cobbled streets, incidental public squares and an occasional view of the castle, the sea and Arthur's Seat was an absolute pleasure. All these experiences were constantly punctuated by etchings on wooden benches, names on trees and a huge number of cemeteries with old tomb stones turning the city into a depository of memories of names, people, friends, families and loved ones all long gone and immortal at the same time.
The city was once a home to writer Robert Louis Stevenson and I could only imagine its influence in his classics like The strange case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and Treasure Island.
The second day began with the climb to the Edinburgh Castle which provides some great views of the city. The castle madly reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki's Laputa: Castle in the Sky illustrations further reinforced by the illustration on the tourist guide map. The visits to the National Gallery of Scotland proved extremely fruitful. This gallery has some really good paintings by El Greco, Rembrandt, Cezanne and Diego Velazquez.
The next on the itinerary was the Scottish Parliament designed by Enric Miralles, which is one of the few parliament buildings that seem to merge in scale with the surrounding landscape, sits in close proximity to the rest of the urban fabric and has an image made up of collage of various elements that are in complete contradiction to the State's image of power and authority, which makes this a building a good example of architectural interpretation of true democracy. We ended the day at the port which is an antithesis of the city centre, an eerie space confused by negation of history and planting of a multi complex shopping mall giant of a building along the water front.
The third day was invested in visiting the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art flanked by a Landscape design done by architect Charles Jencks, which was discovered by us during the trip. But most surprising was an amazing collection of art works the gallery had put together for a temporary exhibition. This was the first time I got to see Damien Hirst’s art works, Away from the Flock, Grey Periodic Table, Pharmacology- Physiology- Pathology, Monument to the Living & Dead, Something & Nothing and the Wretched War to name a few. The works had a certain playful quality about them fantastically packaged with flushed details. Also got to see Man Ray’s Iron with Nails, which was an image I had seen numerous times before but had never seen the object. But it was Ellen Gallagher’s work that I loved the most, a set of images titled Deluxe and madly reminded me of Kaushik’s ‘Unbook’ collages. After this a quick visit to the Dean Gallery across the road and marinating ourselves in bit more of art, we were ready for some evening wine and oysters.
I don’t know if it was the spring weather, my own craving for a break from London or something else, but the city of Edinburgh was just beautiful, probably one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, no short of magic.