Monday, January 09, 2017

Art. And traffic lights.

Daughter 1 and I took the children to the Portrait Gallery for the first time today. It's an amazing Neo-Gothic building and, rather to our surprise, the children found it interesting. There's a painted frieze around the main entrance hall, featuring lots of people from Scottish history, and the little ones gazed up at them and talked about them a bit.

They also looked at the various busts, such as this one of James Watt, the engineer. Granddaughter the Elder was particularly intrigued by Queen Victoria, who was wearing a crown as all good queens do. Grandson (surprise, surprise) was keen to know how many of the great and good immortalised here in marble had lived long enough to see traffic lights installed. Not many in this room, Daughter 1 and I decided.

The main purpose of our visit was to look at the BP Portrait Competition exhibition, which Mr Life and I had seen at the weekend. I had no idea whether it would hold the attention of a 5- and a 3-year-old but we thought it worth a try. And it did. They wandered round, looking at all the (amazing) portraits and each chose their favourite.

Outside the exhibition room, there was a little stand with mirrors, paper and pencils, and visitors were invited to try drawing their own self-portraits and to pin them to the wires encircling the space. Grandson was enthusiastic to try this and worked busily for some minutes.

Here he is with his finished portrait.

It hasn't quite captured his loveliness but he carefully gave himself eyelashes, eyebrows, ear whorls and a quilted sweatshirt - though no hands or legs.

It was lovely to see how much they enjoyed themselves.  We must do this again.

Afterwards, we went to the cafĂ©. Grandson looked at the pink tulip in a vase on our table and then saw a red one on another table. Then he saw a yellow one. "Do you get green tulips?" he enquired. Art may be one thing, but the possibility of making a traffic light arrangement in tulips is quite another.


  1. What bright, lovely grandchildren you have, what fun they must be.

  2. What lucky, lucky little grandchildren to spend their days playing and visiting world-class museums. I've seen red, green and yellow gerberas -- perhaps those would work for some stoplight art? ;-D

  3. Grandchildren are such a joy and yours are so bright and fun to be with. I love the way your grandson's mind seems to work.

  4. Happy New Year! I read all of your posts, but don't comment very often. Your grandchildren are delightful. Grandson reminds me so much of my son when he was a little boy (he's 19 now and away at college). I enjoy reading about how you spend your time together.

  5. Remarkable attention to detail. And how enlightened of the Portrait Gallery to set this up.

  6. He is a talented young chap isn't he? You will be able to take them there frequently since they were so interested.

  7. I love the stories of your grandchildren. It is so important to expose young ones to history and art!

  8. Great kids and, from the standpoint of one with no artistic talent, quite an impressive self portrait. You're all lucky to have each other. Lxx