City Art Centre, Edinburgh, until Thu 16 Sep 0000

Think of a Cecil Beaton portrait and a picture-perfect image immediately springs to mind. With not a single hair out of place or even a hint of facial imperfections in his subjects, he airbrushed reality and injected idealism into every rich, clever, famous, beautiful and privileged sitter he photographed.

Cecil Beaton Portraits, organised by and first shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London, celebrates the centenary of his birth. For over 50 years, from the 205 to the 705, Beaton enjoyed a glittering career photographing some of the most glamorous and important people of the 20th century. He raised the profile of the portrait photographer, becoming as famous as the people he photographed. He mixed with royalty and moved in important circles, snapping actors, writers, painters, film stars, politicians and society figures along the way.

From the hi-camp and theatrical to the experimental and sublime, the exhibition overflows with image upon image of iconic beauty. In the 305 he took pictures of the Hollywood stars Marlene Dietrich, the chiselled good looks of Gary Cooper and the mannequin-like appearance of Danish film star Gwili Andre - they seem so unreal, so unobtainable, one wonders if this was not a deliberate ploy on Beaton‘s part.

In the 405, he was posted as official war photographer but even these mask the harsh realities of war. Portraits of army generals,

Winston Churchill, the Land Girls and the famous image of Eileen Dunn, a young girl with a bandaged head looking out from a hospital bed, are more sentimental than thought provoking.

In the 50s he snapped a new generation of film stars from Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor to Audrey Hepburn and Marlon Brando. The results were beautifully lit and composed, and Beaton knew how to flatter. But in his recently published diaries he revealed

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his hatred for many of the stars who sat for him. Forever the consummate pro, he never allowed personal feelings to come into a portrait.

And it is at this point where the exhibition falls short. There is little or no insight in the mindset of Beaton, which makes two floors full of perfect images feel quite nauseating. Had we known about his relationship with each sitter, it would have been a much more intriguing expose of this fascinating man. (Helen Monaghan)

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Gossip chat and rumour from the gal/ery floor

MIKE NELSON’S PUMPKIN Palace is currently sailing down the Panama Canal on its way to Edinburgh after having been bubble-wrapped and packaged up in San Francisco. The 1954 bus that houses worlds of mysterious dystopia will be parked on Market Street for a month from the beginning of August after arriving at Tilbury docks in London. The installation forms part of the Collective Gallery’s 20th birthday festival celebrations which also include performance art at Hillend ski slope and a wandering Romanian sketcher. Interview with Britain’s leading installation artist, Mike Nelson, in next issue.

THE GORBALS' ROSE GARDEN has just reopened as a public space. Originally the Gorbals Burial Groand. it was transformed into a rose garden in the 60s and

su sequently dwindled into \.vaste:and. Now regenerated. artists have designed new features Such as 'the Orchard by Amanda Currie. ‘Cultivated W:lderness' by Matt Baker and Sans Facon and Community Rose Memoriai' by Lt? Peden.

NOW, ONCE IN A BLUE MOON special things happen. And that’s what’s going on at Portobello beach, Edinburgh. Among the arcades, fish and chip stands and ice-cream vans, a new art project called Big Things on the Beach features work by local artist and artist in residence at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Jenny Nisbet. Coinciding with a real blue moon for its opening on Saturday 31 July, the shoreline art will be on display until the end of August.

AND FINALLY. CONCRAIUIAIIONS go to Sarah I-Iutchisori of Edinburgh Coitege of Ar: who has just won Student Detaigner of the Year £3‘.'-."£t"(t

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