When I first heard about Phoebe Anna Traquair's Edinburgh murals, I knew I had to see them. If anything, they're even better than I expected. I'm still amazed that I'd never heard of her, or heard of her work, even though I went to school and university in the city (including an art history course).
Walking into the Catholic Apostolic Church on a sunny day is a magical experience.
With the sun streaming through the windows, the murals are clear, bright and colourful and the large interior space of the church adds to the wonder. With churches, apart from some puritan and iconoclastic episodes, hasn't it ever been so?
Looking up and around it is easy to feel the sort of optimism that this art was designed to inspire.
Born in Dublin but based in Edinburgh, Traquair was working at the end of the 19th and first part of the 20th Centuries. There's a lot of Pre-Raphaelite in her work and her influences include Dante Gabriel Rosetti and William Blake, as well as other writers and poets, like Tennyson and Browning.
She visited Italy in the 1880's and you can see the influence of artists like Botticelli and Fra Angelico on her painting.
I love the Fra Angelico painting The Forerunners of Christ in the National Gallery. Lots of little portraits of people looking this way and that, many slightly different characters with their own personality.
I have a few photographs of it all but cannot do proper justice to her paintings, or the building. As usual, you have to see them in person to really appreciate how wonderful they are.
If you are in Edinburgh, you really have to visit.
I'm not alone in thinking so much of this place and Traquair's painting. Some other very good sites with lots of good pictures of the art are :
They're viewable on certain dates only. Next dates :
8th December 2013