Catriona Grant’s intriguing black and white photographs star the lteilling sisters in a series of scenarios and narratives infused with a sense of childish fun.

Catriona Grant’s ‘Cows’ (detail) ‘My mother and aunt are German and there’s a very close bond between them. They lived with their mother their father left when they were young - and they were brought up in a houseful of women. I’ve been photographing my family for a couple

realised that they weren’t going to be around forever and I decided to take some portraits of them, that’s how the project started. I was interested in the area of family photography, exposing what’s private in a public way.

‘Some of the work is about their relationship but the exhibition isn’t as specific as being about the pair of them, although it stems from them and their stories. The scenarios are all created and staged by me but display the women’s sense of humour. I generate pictures in different ways from stories or things I’ve read but also from things I see which I find interesting. In one work both women are dressed up as cows and that relates to some other work which I did about camouflage, but it’s ridiculous camouflage, it’s really no camouflage at all.

‘My aunt and mother got used to being photographed and although they often thought they looked terrible, their hair was sticking out or something, they began to get used to seeing themselves and saw they were subjects in often interesting photographs.

‘You don’t often see old people in the media. In advertising, they’re all made up to look like your ideal granny or something. Family photography really appeals to me, as either you see types of people that you wouldn’t see very often or you see people in a completely different way, not the public face but a much, much more Intimate side.

‘As for the stories they told me, I’m sure they aren’t that accurate. You edit your memories and when you start looking back on things, they become quite ldeallsed.’ (Beatrice Colin) lleallve Vision is at Portfolio Gallery until 5 llov.

of years, mainly the older generation. I

:— Heavenly beauty

It is not often that scientific artefacts are perceived as great art, but a new exhibition of

' astronomical instruments l and books at the Museum l of Scotland, ‘A Heavenly !Library’, demonstrates

l the beauty of science, as Thom Dibdin finds out.

‘Scientific instruments are beautiful.‘

i enthuses Alison Morrison-Low. curator

of scientific instruments at the Museum

3 of Scotland. And in the surroundings of

the gallery of astronomical instruments up on the second floor of the museum, she is surrounded by case upon case of strange devices that jastify her admiration. Carefully crafted pieces of machinery, some dating back to the

10th century. glitter in the low lighting of the gallery. ()rnate mountings complement the mathematically precise curves of sextants. astrolabes and


These really are pieces of an. even if their beauty is difficult to fully appreciate in the soporific surroundings of the gallery. But even their glory pales beside the wealth of delicate drawings and illustrations of star maps that make up the great Crawford Library at the Royal Observatory,

5 Edinburgh. In an attempt to bring the


i 5/, ‘/////7/7///% /

two collections to life. the museum and observatory have teamed tip to present a unique exhibition which chronicles some of the major astronomical advances of the millenium.

While astronomy experts will appreciate the chance to see some of the Crawford Collection in public for the first time. A Heavenly Library will leave the more casual visitor gasping. The claim that the Crawford Collection is one of the live greatest astronomical libraries in the world, is not an empty one.

Tenth century manuscripts with delicately wrought illustrations lie besides a contemporaneous astrolabe. The astrolabe is a traditional depiction of the heavens. Based on the assumption that the earth is at the centre of a spherical universe. it reproduces on a flat surface the positions of the sun and some ofthe major stars. While this was a useful scientific instrument. a more recent astrolabe from the University of St , Andrews. made in l575 was a prestige ! piece. created for the drawing rooms of the nobility.

‘An astrolabe very similar to the one from St Andrews was produced for the brother of the Duke of Argyll.‘ says Morrison-Low. ‘People knew about


From Atlas coelestis, one of 25 maps of the heavens published in 1781.

them. and to possess one was seen as part ofelcgant living. Lord lsla would have had it in his drawing room.‘

By the loth century. the astronomer Nicholas Copernicus founded his revolutionary theory that the sun. not the earth, was at the centre of the solar s}'stc‘lll. A first edition of his Ut’ lx’r'I'o/ulrrrrIi/ms (‘()n the Revolutions of the ('clestial Spheres‘) is the centre piece of the (mom-a library. This copy was owned and annotated by the (lerman astronomer lirasmus Reinhold. It is the sort of artefact which leaves serious scholars of astronomy week at the knees. The less well informed visitor will probably be more intrigued by an orrery made some two centuries after (‘opcrnicus‘ first expounded his theories. This mechanical model ofthe solar system shows in intricate detail how the revolutions of the planets around the sun relate to each other.

Just as astronomers of the past were awed by their discoveries about the universe. this exhibition is a mini voyage ofdiscovery not only into scientific history. but into the rich beauty of that science.

xl Heaven/y Library is u! I/It’ Royal Museum (rf'St'ot/uml. ('lmm/rr'rs Street. Edinburghfrom 7 Or! 3/ l)(’('. Details on ()3/ 225 7534.

_ Troubled

I water

3 From the paintings of MacTaggart to Willian Gillies, the East coast landscape has always been depicted as a place of tranquillity and beauty with ample opportunities for capturing the picturesque in paint. Recently, however, the demise of the fishing industry has meant the vision is crumbling, and the small coastal town has become a place where the picture-postcard past has been succeeded by a rather bleaker present.

This progression can be seen in the work of painter Dennis Buchan in his current show A Span of Shores. llis older work is characterised by murky colours such as black and grey, with the occasional chink of vivid orange or blue showing through. It is easy to envisage harbours bristling with haphazardly placed creels and mooring ropes, populated by wrinkled fishermen in ollsklns and bristly Captain Findus beards.

The paint is pushed across the canvas in huge strokes that weave and lurch in dark smears, but easier on the eye are those works which have had some order Imposed on them. In Grey

Sky/Pink Shore and Dutch Shore, asymmetry is evident, allowing the gaze to rest and absorb rather than career wildly around.

The recent work shows a definite progression. Composition, wild gestures and whacko colours such as

bright red, yellow and blue all

Dennis Buchan’s ‘Yellow Dan’ combine to create an irregular and loud harmony. Now, the landscapes appear peopled by brightly clad youths in luminous training shoes, the shoreline an orgy of neon. (llick Dewar)

A Span of Shores is at the Compass Gallery until 27 Oct.

52 The List 7—20 October 1994