Edinburgh was buzzing. There were a lot of events and activities in the city on the days leading up to Christmas. The atmosphere was busy, with people doing their Christmas shopping but magical at the same time. The European Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens was choc-o block full. It was hectic with people doing last minute shopping, drinking mulled wine, eating German wurst hot-dogs, delicious fried potatoes and mouthwatering waffles, dripping in honey and melted chocolate.
There were also 2 skating rinks, a Scottish market in St. Andrew’s Square, Santa Land for the kids, various rides and attractions and a lot of free and ticketed events from 20th November right through to the 4th January. One of those free events that I went to was called “The 24 Doors of Advent”. Every day, from the 1st to the 24th December, a public building in Edinburgh, which would normally be closed to the public, opened its doors for free.
One of those buildings was Coburg House, a wonderful hub for artists in Leith, Edinburgh. From the outside the building looks very non-descript but as soon as you go inside, it opens up into this wonderful maze of 50 artist studios, spread out over 3 floors. There is a gallery on the ground floor which hosts exhibitions for new and established artists and for solo and group shows. It provides a venue where these artists can show their work and experience the processes involved in organising an exhibition. Quite a few of the residents at Coburg House offer classes and workshops which is a great opportunity for people who want to learn or develop their skills in various types of art. I think it’s great that this place is available to artists, to give them studios to work in and to exhibit their art.
Coburg House opens to the public twice a year: on the first weekend in August and the first weekend in December. I went on the 6th December and the place was packed but the atmosphere there was great. There were all sorts of artists and designers exhibiting their work: jewelers and illustrators, silversmiths and signwriters, kilt makers, painters and candlestick makers. I didn’t get to see all of the studios but what I did see I was very impressed with. The whole place was decorated for Christmas, with multi-coloured fairy lights everywhere, all sorts of tinsel brightening up dark nooks and crannies and a big Christmas tree in the gallery. I loved it.
Here are just some of the artists that I liked: David Blakely, a very good landscape painter, Lynn Hanley, who paints cityscapes and landscapes using quirky details and a lot of colour, David Schofield, a freelance illustrator with an unusual style of painting, Emily Hogarth who does very intricate paper-cutting and illustrations and was one of my favourites, David Mackenzie, a graphic designer and illustrator whose vintage travel posters impressed me, Bryony Knox, an artist who makes excellent figurative silverware, Misun Won, a jeweler who works with Asian art designs and Madeleine Sheperd who works with felt and creates various conceptual project work.
Nearly all of these artists’s work can be seen on the Coburg House website, along with more information about the studios and the gallery and more photos of the artist’s work on their flickr website.