The Wee Museum of Newhaven

The Wee Museum of Newhaven at Victoria Primary School is now open and you can see the new exhibition ‘Newhaven Stories’.                                                                                              kippersKippering yard, 1921

The exhibition was curated by children from Victoria Primary School. They were assisted by members of the local community, who shared their memories of Newhaven in the past and by Museums & Galleries Edinburgh. Many of the objects belong to the museums but some have been kindly donated by the local community. The exhibition explores three themes: Newhaven in Wartime, Fishing and Schooldays.

The Wee Museum of Newhaven is at Victoria Primary School, Newhaven Main St, Edinburgh EH6 4HY. You can visit the museum by appointment. Please phone the school on 0131 476 7306 to book.

The exhibition was developed as a part of the Memories Project and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.                                                                                                                         weemuseum

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Edwin G. Lucas

This week Adi has written a post about the life of Edwin G Lucas. You can discover the varied and unique work of Lucas in our exhibition Edwin G. Lucas: An Individual Eye (on at the City Art Centre until 10 February 2019).

EdwinGLucas-Caley Station, Edinburgh-1942

Edwin G. Lucas, Caley Station, Edinburgh, 1942. City Art Centre, Museums & Galleries Edinburgh. © the artist’s estate. (Photo: City Art Centre)

Edwin G. Lucas has always been something of a polymorph. You could pick out literally any three paintings from any three points in his life (adolescence, adulthood, and old age) and you would have no idea that they were all created by the same person. That shouldn’t be too surprising, considering the fact that Lucas had been painting since he was 15 years old. He practically grew up with art. It only makes sense that as he changed and grew as a person, his artworks would continue to change and grow with him.

This unique ability to adapt to various experimental styles of painting was Lucas’s greatest asset and, at the same time, his greatest hindrance when breaking into the mainstream art world. With his deep, surrealist style, Lucas challenged the minds of his audiences, sometimes even addressing serious issues such as war and death. Much to his inconvenience, many of those within the upper-echelons of Scotland’s then relatively conservative art scene, such as The Royal Scottish Academy, were very conditional in their support of Lucas; choosing to only exhibit his more conventionally-popular pieces of landscapes. Essentially, they just needed him to follow the herd, slap on his beret and be a good little painter sheep like everyone else. Initially, Lucas refused to bow down to these gatekeepers. What good was it to sacrifice his integrity and individuality just to fit in? Like any other artist, he wanted to create his work for an audience but, to some degree, he needed to be creating it for himself. Unfortunately, this bold move did not work to his favour.

In April of 1950, he set up his first solo exhibition at the New Gallery on Shandwick Place, displaying many of his best works from 1936 onwards. The New Gallery was the perfect place to amplify his artistic voice but, unfortunately, his works fell on deaf ears as he barely received any attention from either critics or audiences. Lucas then gave it another run the year after, in the same gallery, where he made sure to update his portfolio of works; displaying how far he had come; how weird, wacky, and wonderful he had become over the years.  And still…crickets. It was then that, after so many years of trying to break into the mainstream art world, Lucas eventually broke off his love affair with painting.

Fortunately, Lucas had nothing to lose by embarking on his artistic hiatus. Since having left school in the late 1920s, Lucas had had a stable job as a civil servant, an occupation which actually allowed him to fund his creative pursuits in the first place. As a matter of fact, Lucas had been urged to enter the civil service by his parents, ironically due to his uncle’s own failures as a full-time artist. By November of 1952, Lucas found a love greater than painting in his wife Eileen McCulloch, with whom he fathered two sons: Frank in 1953 and Alan in 1957. This sudden transition from brooding, artistic bachelor to mild-mannered family man was a great one for Lucas at that. With a family to provide for, his priorities had completely re-shifted and the creative drive within him was brought to a halt.

However, by the early 1980s, as he approached his early 70s, Lucas ended his career in the civil service with a well-deserved and comfy retirement. And, of course, by then, his two sons had already grown up and flown out of the family nest. He had now outgrown the two main responsibilities that had brought him so much purpose throughout the latter half of his adult life. So, why not rekindle the childhood passion that had defined so much of the first half of his life? He had nothing but time on his hands and he was ready to get them dirty.  Unfortunately, although his youthful, artistic persona had returned, his increasingly weak eyesight making it harder and harder for him to fully realise his artistic vision. Of course, after having looked at some of his latest works, one could never tell, especially from looking at his beautifully intricate oil paintings and hauntingly vivid self portrait.

Eventually, by February of 1989, with help from his family, Lucas was able to have his oil paintings exhibited at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. Additionally, the Scottish Arts Club on Rutland Square held an exhibition of his paintings later on in October. Lucas had gained a modest following from these works but, despite this, it wasn’t enough to dig him out of the underground art scene, with many commercial galleries still refusing to display his art- just like they had done 30 years before. For Lucas, it appeared as if history was beginning to repeat itself, until the City Art Centre acquired Caley Station, Edinburgh and became the first public gallery to own one of his paintings. At long last, he had, after all these years, and as Steve Jobs would put it, made a ‘ding in the universe’! Sadly, at the age of 79 years old, Lucas passed away from leukaemia just a few months later in December 1990, missing out on the long-awaited adulation that his paintings would finally receive in the 20 years that followed.

In 2013, after a meeting between his youngest son Alan and curator, Patrick Elliot, five of Lucas’ paintings were displayed by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in celebration of a ‘lost Surrealist’. Additionally, one of his compositions was recently hung alongside the works of other ground-breaking artists such as William Gear, William Crosbie and Charles Pulsford, altogether, once again, in the behemoth of prestige that is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. In fact, another astonishing posthumous feat made by Lucas was achieved in 2014 when a brand new street in his childhood home of Juniper Green was renamed Lucas Gardens; extending his artistic legacy even further beyond his paintings!

Having carefully examined the life and works of Edwin G Lucas, one could appropriately define him as a sort of 20th century Vincent Van Gogh; both produced works far ahead of their time and, for that, their genius was taken for granted as they perished into obscurity. And, yet, why is it now that we have come to appreciate them? Simply put, both were an acquired taste and the only thing that they valued more than their art was their integrity. A lot of people may not have seen what they did when they were alive but at least they died knowing that they did it their way, and no one else’s.




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Edinburgh Glass tour


In 2018 the Museum of Edinburgh opened its new glass gallery. On display are over 180 pieces of exquisite glassware, all made in Edinburgh from the 1830s to the present day.

The glassware forms part of Museums & Galleries Edinburgh’s decorative art collection which is a Recognised Collection, making it one of 49 collections that have been recognised by the Scottish Government as being nationally significant to Scotland.

The glass collection contains all manner of beautiful cut and engraved glass – wine glasses, decanters, jugs, bowls, even a glass hat, sword and trumpet!

To mark the opening of the new gallery, and to share the glass collection with as many people as possible, a small display of Edinburgh Glass is now touring around Edinburgh City Libraries until summer 2019.

The display is currently at Blackhall Library, with further venues and dates scheduled as follows:

02 October – 13 November:        Blackhall Library

13 November – 08 January:         Corstorphine Library

08 January – 19 February:             Colinton Library

19 February – 01 April:                   Oxgangs Library

01 April – 13 May:                            Newington Library

13 May – 24 June:                            Kirkliston Library

If you’d like to host the glass display at a library or community venue in Edinburgh please do get in touch by emailing




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Herstory Woven

A new exhibition opens today at the People’s Story Museum. Herstory Woven has been organised by KWISA (African Women in Scotland Association) as part of Black History Month (1 – 31 October).

Herstory Woven was produced by artist, Fadzai Mwakutuya. Fadzai has created conceptual artwork to commemorate women of African descent who have fought for equality and women’s rights throughout recent history. The exhibition aims to start a conversation about racial equality within the Women’s Rights Movement and to highlight the lack of inclusion and representation of women of African descent in societal movements.

This links to the one hundredth anniversary of some women being given the right to vote in 1918. The aim of the artwork is to emphasise that Women’s Rights Movements must include all women regardless of race.

Visitors are invited to add to one of the artworks by taking a piece of African fabric and weaving it through chains. Come along and have a go!

Herstory Woven is on at the People’s Story Museum until 31 October.

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Adi’s new blog

Adi, our Next Step Initiative intern has written a  blog about the most recent Art in the City session. You can read Adi’s previous blog here.

Art in the City is for people who are affected by dementia and their friends, family and carers. You can find out more about the group here.

Here is what he has to say…..


Last week, me, Diana and The Art in The City group embarked on a free tour of the National Gallery’s new Rembrandt exhibit. That’s right! Rembrandt! No, not the other one! The Rembrandt! In all his dark, brooding, increasingly-Baroque-style-having, Dutch Golden Age glory!

Upon arrival, we gathered in a meeting room. Diana and I both, of course, knew that it would be impossible for our group to nourish their senses with the creative genius of Rembrandt without at first nourishing themselves; to take in all of that beauty on an empty stomach. So, we made sure that the attendees felt welcomed and refreshed by serving them tea, coffee and biscuits to enjoy until the tour had started. I even managed to accommodate one of our attendees, who had difficulties with her mobility, feel more comfortable by going out to the front desk of the gallery to bring her a wheelchair.

Some of the other attendees were also hard of hearing. Diana had hired out a box of hearing loops for them but those mics weren’t working. So, I went back out to the front desk to ask for new mics. This way, I ensured that these attendees would be able to effectively pick up on the interesting information being provided to them on the artefacts presented throughout the tour. Upon reflection, I’d have to say that this part of the day provided me with a great opportunity to utilise my own skills in customer care, which I had acquired during the 4 years that I had spent waiting tables- 4 years too many, if you ask me!

Honestly, who would’ve thought that all of those weekends sacrificed to restocking pickle trays, attempting to make coffee, and serving thaalis and dosas under a 5-hour serenade of Bhangra music would eventually pay off?

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Volunteer celebration event

On Thursday 23 August we held our annual volunteer celebration event at the Museum of Edinburgh. This was an opportunity for volunteers to meet one another, view the museum after hours and enjoy some music and a glass of wine! The event is held to celebrate the contribution that volunteers make to Museums and Galleries Edinburgh and to thank them for all that they do.

Unfortunately the weather was not on our side so the planned courtyard event was moved indoors. We were joined by the Convener of Culture & Sport, Councillor Donald Wilson, who thanked volunteers on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council. We also heard from Catherine who has volunteered for Museums and Galleries Edinburgh in different roles for over a year.

There are many different volunteering roles across Museums and Galleries Edinburgh. We currently have around 60 volunteers helping as tour guides, collections assistants, events assistants and even gardeners!

You can find out more about volunteering with Museums and Galleries Edinburgh on our website.



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We’ve been really luck to have the help of Adi in our team for the past few weeks. Adi is with us as part of a year-long internship at Museums & Galleries Edinburgh organised by The Next Step Initiative. Here Adi shares his thoughts about his time with us so far:

Hi there! That’s normally how you start these things, right? A ‘hi’, a ‘hello’, maybe even a ‘howdy!’ Oh. Yeah. And my name. Probably would’ve been best to start off with that too. My name is Adithya Peiris Suriyapperuma but, for expediency’s sake, you can call me Adi. Think Adi like Adidas. You’re laughing right now, aren’t you? See! That always gets them.

Anyway, now that I’ve given you the who, I think it’s about time I get around to the why and the what: why I’m here and what I do here for the Curatorial and Engagement department. Firstly, I’m here as part of a government-funded traineeship scheme to integrate more ethnic minorities into the museums and galleries sector. Throughout the traineeship, I have been able to practice many of the skills I had prior to starting it, whilst picking up some new skills along the way. This has worked out perfectly in terms of what I do with the Outreach team. Here, I’ve been able to fully utilise my existing skills in creative writing by promoting venues and artefacts via social media. Furthermore, I’ve picked up new skills in community engagement after travelling with my supervisor to local care homes and taking the elderly residents back in time by using a treasure trove of nostalgic items found in our Reminiscence Boxes. Suffice to say, it’s only just the beginning and I can’t wait to see what the Outreach department has in store for me over the next two months. In the words of the great Canadian poet, Randy Bachman, of Bachman-Turner Overdrive;

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. B-b-b-baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-nothin’ yet.”


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