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ON THE WALLS

Discover our Townhouse Artists

2 August 2023

In order to assemble artwork that would stand up to the striking architecture of the Townhouse, we worked with acclaimed Art Curator, Sigrid Kirk, to select pieces that would elevate our members-only areas and public spaces whilst thematically exploring the rich history of the building.

Although best known for its 200 years as the flagship for the Bank of Scotland, the Townhouse building’s industrial history traces back much further, with the British Linen Headquarters occupying the space throughout the 18th century. With much of the Townhouse’s architectural restoration honouring the bank’s legacy, the art that adorns the walls pays tribute to this earlier history of linen manufacture and the women who drove its success.

 

Gaia Fugazza
IN THE NOTE BURNING ROOM (MEMBERS ONLY) (Pictured below)

Linen and its production thematically imbues much of the art that embellishes the Townhouse. This is expressed perhaps most explicitly in Gaia Fugazza’s four-panel painting found in The Note Burning Room. Fugazza’s work famously explores the troubled relationship between humans and the natural environment, portraying characters interacting with a natural and technological world, that in this piece depicts the stages of linen production, featuring women picking and combing the material in vivid gold, white and blue. This four-part painting was made on wood, then carved, burned, waxed and painted with self-made mineral paints, emulating a medieval painting style. Symbolically, the wood-panelled boardroom where this celebration of female craft now hangs was previously emblazoned with portraits of the male board members who would predominantly occupy the space.

Nell Lyhne
IN THE LOBBY (Pictured below)

Winner of the British School in Rome Residency award and many other industry accolades, Kirk was excited to commission celebrated artist Nell Lyhne as part of the series. Lyhne’s art can be enjoyed as you descend the stairwell to the hotel lobby, where you’ll find a visual exploration of two of her enduring obsessions — drapery and painting. Another nod to the building’s linen heritage, the piece depicts swathes of fabric hanging in crumpled folds with a distinct absence of the body. Contemporary in its impact yet reminiscent of clothing depicted in traditional Scottish portraits, not only does the work provide a soft and sensorily feminine contrast to the angular surrounding architecture of the building’s stairwell, but its influences mark the wider artistic heritage that can be enjoyed throughout Edinburgh.

Ciara Phillips
IN THE TELLING ROOMS (MEMBERS ONLY) (Pictured below)

Kirk explains that sourcing contemporary art that would harmoniously contrast with the antiquity of the building was an exciting challenge of the brief. This is exemplified through the commission of another star from this cohort of female talent – Ciara Phillips, a turner-prize nominated artist based in Glasgow, who’s exploration of signs and semiotics through the medium of print-making can be found punctuating The Townhouse’s Telling Room with bright, modern prints.

Mimei Thompson
IN LAMPLIGHTERS (Pictured below)

Working to avoid use of the muted spectrum of colours often found in landscape art, but still wanting to draw from the archetypal Scottish palette that’s so synonymous with Gleneagles, Kirk commissioned paintings by Mimei Thompson to decorate the Townhouse’s Lamplighters bar that would represent the rich flora and fauna of Scotland but dialled up to create a tension that ensures the space feels modern and intriguing. Thompson’s pastel neon suite of works, with acidic colour contrasts, depicts plants unwinding in a surrealist representation of a nocturnal garden to evoke a sense of enchantment and feverish midnight dreams. Perfect for the mood of our roof terrace cocktail bar, the art pleasingly disrupts the clean uniformity of Lamplighters interiors to alter perceptions and engage, whilst representing foliage and botany to reflect the seasonal focus of Lamplighters mixology.

Francis-Lis McGurn
IN THE SPENCE (Pictured below)

Sigrid’s favourite piece from the collection comes from France-Lis McGurn, a Glaswegian artist who is rapidly garnering international acclaim for her lyrical paintings. Her vibrant commissions for The Townhouse take centre stage in The Spence’s dining room, with use of bright colour and sweeping brushstrokes to depict exuberant female bodies. Her capricious compositions are, in their freedom of form and expression, unrestrained, with her paint transcending the canvas on the frame of its stretcher. Not only does this reinforce the theme of the creative potential of women when liberated, the bright colours also complement the art-deco glamour of the space, evoking a joyful Belle Époque charm that softens the opulent banking hall.

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