Art with friends


DOK Artist Space, The Steel Shed, in Leith


Antony Gormley figure, Photo: Peter Stubbs

I’ve recently been lucky enough to have separate visits from a couple of dear friends – one from Union Hall in Ireland and the other from London.  Both were keen to see as much art as possible during their trip to Edinburgh so although I am a relative newcomer to the city, I was the tour guide, which turned out to be not at all as hopeless as it sounds.  One of the places I’ve been fascinated by since moving to Leith is the DOK Artist Space an extraordinary steel shed, constructed with ship-building techniques, that sits on the Dock just near the Royal Yacht Brittania and the Ocean Terminal shopping centre.  This time with my friend we were lucky enough to find someone inside, so we had a guided tour from artist Karen Fleming.  It is a brilliant space in a stunning location and they do terrific work in offering and campaigning for affordable artists’ studios and yet this historic building faces eviction from its site.  Tragic.  I hope a new home can be found for it.  We waved to the solitary Antony Gormley figure out at the end of the rotting pier, staring out at a forlorn housing development and proving to be a popular staging post for seagulls.  One of the galleries we really enjoyed is a new-ish one in gallery-laden Dundas Street, with the unusual name of &gallery.  We were particularly taken with the work of Liz Douglas, with its delicate palette and intriguing layering.  The Dovecot Tapestry Studios has become a regular haunt of mine and my London friend was as taken as I am with this tranquil hub of creativity.  One of its most recent commissions has been to work with the Turner prize-winning artist, Chris Ofili, whose tapestry ‘The Caged Bird’s Song” has just been unveiled at the National Gallery in London as part of an exhibition entitled “Weaving Magic”.  Another highlight for us was the Scottish Parliament building, which I know has its detractors but which I find visually stunning.  I’m a great fan of polished concrete so that might explain it.  I’ve been wanting to visit for years, not least to see an artwork by Alison Kinnaird called Psalmsong, which combines glass etching and music and didn’t disappoint.