Jun 102014
 
The mystery stone

The mystery stone.

Have you ever wondered what the stone situated to the west of the beech hedge at RBGE is?  Have you even noticed it’s there?

The lump of red stone is actually a memorial  with a small trough shaped into its upper surface to act as a bird bath sitting on a hexagonal plinth. Around the edges can be seen the faint vestiges of an inscription – it’s all very mysterious!

Filed away in the RBGE Archives is a folder of papers and drawings which detail the origin of this memorial:

Architect's plan.

Architect’s plan: Section.

Architect's plan: Front Elevation & Plan.

Architect’s plan: Front Elevation & Plan.

It was designed by the architect Sir Frank Mears (1880-1953), husband of Norah Geddes (1887-1967), Sir Patrick Geddes’s daughter.  Before they married they collaborated on the design of Edinburgh Zoo, which opened in 1913.  Sir Frank advised on many Scottish urban renewal schemes, most notably the old town in Stirling.

The bird bath was sculpted by Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson (1887-1973) whose most well-known work is the statue of Robert the Bruce at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre.  The rough stone it’s carved from is actually a piece of fossil tree dug from Craigleith Quarry, Edinburgh, the same site as the one which produced RBGE’s fossil tree, on display near the Palm House.

The inscription on the plinth, now almost gone is drawn on the memorial’s plan in the Archives folder and reveals who the memorial was designed and sculpted for.  It reads: ‘In remembrance of Mary, Alice, Agnes & Edith, four sisters who loved this garden and the birds in it for over 50 years, given by Australian cousins in 1945.’

The four sisters commemorated were the daughters of Robert Gray (1825-1887), banker in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Mr Gray was a keen amateur ornithologist, whose major work in this subject ‘Birds of the West of Scotland’ was illustrated with reproductions of his own paintings. His wife, Elizabeth Anderson (1831-1924) and daughters were keen geologists, and their main collection of fossil plants is in the Natural History Museum, London. Earlier collections are housed in the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, and the National Museum of Scotland.

Edith H. M. Gray, the last surviving daughter, died in October 1944.

The bird bath was installed at RBGE in October 1946.

 

Dec 112013
 
Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House

Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House

Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House

Artist: Alan Johnston

Date: 1995

Materials: Beeswax, charcoal and varnish on stone

Ownership: On permanent loan from the artist

Made to accompany the award-winning exhibition of the same name held at Inverleith House during the 1995 Edinburgh Festival, this sculpture by the Scottish artist Alan Johnston (b.1945) related directly to two major philosophical figures; Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) and David Hume (1711-1776). The upper edge of the work incorporates a detail from the circular tomb of David Hume, located in the Calton Burial Ground in Edinburgh, whilst the lower edge refers to the raising of the ceiling (by 3cms) of the House Wittgenstein built in Vienna (1928), where Johnston made an exhibition in counterpart to the one at Inverleith House, during the previous year (1994).

This work has also been discussed as part of a previous post by Tony Garn.

    Dec 102013
     

    Situated within the garden are several pieces of sculpture, many linked to the gallery at Inverleith House and its past use as the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.

    • Mystery stone
    • Haus Wittgenstein/Inverleith House
    • Sculptures in Inverleith Garden
    • Bute Memorial Bench
    • Rock Form (Porthcurno)
    • Ascending Form (Gloria)
    • Linnaeus Monument
    Dec 102013
     
    Bute Memorial Bench
    Bute Memorial Bench

    Bute Memorial Bench

    Bute Memorial Bench

    Artists: Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley

    Date: July 2006

    Material: Oak

    Commissioned by Lady Bute as a memorial to her husband John, Sixth Marquess of Bute.

    John had strong ties to RBGE, being very fond of the gardens,  including sitting on the Board of the Younger (Benmore) Trust for over 26 years. His garden at Mount Stuart was also established as the first ‘network’ garden as part of the International Conifer Conservation programme – an initiative to establish a ‘seed bank’ for threatened conifer species.

    Bute Memorial Bench Inscription

    Bute Memorial Bench Inscription

    Lady Bute approached Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley, as she and her husband had previously commissioned pieces from them for their garden at Mount Stuart. Once a design had been developed, discussions on where to place it at Inverleith began.

    Lady Bute is very pleased with the bench, saying that she felt it had been a great success, being regularly used by families and noting that the oak has aged well.

     

      Dec 032013
       
      Rock Form (Porthcurno)
      Rock Form (Porthcurno)

      Rock Form (Porthcurno)

      Rock Form (Porthcurno)

      Artist: Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

      Date: 1964

      Material: Bronze

      Dimensions: 243.8cm tall

      Edition: 0/6

      Accepted by H.M. Governent in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 2013.

      Rock Form (Porthcurno) reflects Hepworth’s on-going interest in the relationship between landscape and human interest. The curved edges are punctuated by curvilinear openings, the inner surface of which are smooth and coloured a warm gold, this contrasts with the green patina and rough surfaces of the outer surface. This piece was inspired by the rock forms near Porthcurno, a hamlet close to Land’s End, which Hepworth described ‘with its queer caves pierced by the sea’. This sculpture is part of a sequence of sculptures which explored the relationship between land and sea.

      This sculpture and Ascending Form (Gloria), also by Barbara Hepworth, have recently been acquired for the nation by the National Galleries of Scotland as part of the Government’s Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme. They are on loan to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) through a reciprocal arrangement with the National Galleries. The bronzes have been on display at the Botanics for almost 40 years. They were originally placed on loan to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA)  in 1976, when it was sited at Inverleith House, in the centre of the Gardens. The loan was originally made by Hepworth’s estate following her death in 1975. They were officially on loan to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, the body in charge of the Botanic Gardens at the time, and SNGMA were informally associated with their care.  When the SNGMA relocated to larger premises, the sculptures remained in the grounds of RBGE, and the loan passed to the Trustees of the Botanic Garden 1986, when the garden became independent of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

        Dec 032013
         
        Ascending Form (Gloria)
        Ascending Form (Gloria)

        Ascending Form (Gloria)

        Ascending Form (Gloria)

        Artist: Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

        Date: 1958

        Material: Bronze

        Dimensions: 190.5cm tall

        Edition: 5/6

        Accepted by H.M. Governent in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 2013.

        This is one of Hepworth’s earliest large-scale bronzes, featuring two diamond shapes, the larger sitting on top of the smaller, suggesting growth and upward movement. It has been interpreted as the shape of hands in prayer, a reading reinforced by her renewed spirituality during this period of her life, following the death of her son Paul in 1953. The cemetery where Hepworth is buried in St Ives, Cornwall, has another cast of Ascending Form (Gloria) at its entrance.

        This sculpture and Rock Form (Porthcurno), also by Barbara Hepworth, have recently been acquired for the nation by the National Galleries of Scotland as part of the Government’s Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme. They are on loan to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) through a reciprocal arrangement with the National Galleries. The bronzes have been on display at the Botanics for almost 40 years. They were originally placed on loan to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA)  in 1976, when it was sited at Inverleith House, in the centre of the Gardens. The loan was originally made by Hepworth’s estate following her death in 1975. They were officially on loan to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, the body in charge of the Botanic Gardens at the time, and SNGMA were informally associated with their care.  When the SNGMA relocated to larger premises, the sculptures remained in the grounds of RBGE, and the loan passed to the Trustees of the Botanic Garden 1986, when the garden became independent of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

          Dec 032013
           
          Linnaeus Monument
          Linnaeus Monument

          Linnaeus Monument

          Linnaeus Monument

          Designer: Robert Adam

          Date: 1779

          Material: Craigleith Sandstone with marble plaque

          The Linnaeus Monument was erected by John Hope a year after Linneaus’ death. The monument, built at Hope’s own expense, is a lasting testament to his regard for Linnaeus. The monument would have originally stood in the garden at Leith Walk, in the ‘Linnaeus’ section of the design (areas of the garden were named to honour famous botanists, contemporary gardeners and other figures of national and international importance). The monument was moved when the gardens came to Inverleith and has stood in several locations around the garden through the years.

          The memorial, designed by Robert Adam, is in the form of an urn on a plinth and bears the inscription ‘Linnæo posuit I Hope, 1779’ and is made from Craigleith sandstone and marble at the workshop of James Craig.

          Three of Robert Adams designs for the monument are held in the Sir John Soane Museum in London. One is more or less as James Craig built it, which has certain similarities to a design of James Craig proposed for a monument to the Lord Provost Kincaid. The second is a slightly more elaborate version of the design, with the urn bearing handles and a female head and torso at the four corners of the plinth The final design appears to have been dropped early in the process, most likely due to cost, as it is a much more elaborate design.