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The Dunstane Houses is now home to an incredible collection of artwork, curated by Nicky Brooks from the Red Door Gallery here in Edinburgh. Giclée prints, limited edition etchings, original 1800’s book plates and more are displayed all around our public areas and bedrooms.
The brief had a few important details. Maintain a sense of authenticity to the location of the Dunstane Houses whilst celebrating the Orkney heritage of Shirley and Derek, their interests and life together. From the start there was also a wish to support local businesses and artists.
To help support local and Orcadian businesses, the art was sourced through Scottish galleries and the very bespoke framing, was sourced from local framers, including Edinburgh Arts. Images in the reception area show life on Orkney from as early as the 19th century, photographs of Derek’s classic car collection were taken by Robin Mair and can be found in the upper hallways, as well as many vintage aeroplane prints. A number of recent Edinburgh College of Arts (ECA) students work can be found throughout the hotel as well as pieces by more well known Scottish artist. The artwork throughout the hotel ranges from drawings to etchings and various forms of print making, all exploring the themes contemporary and historical life in Edinburgh and Orkney.
The Ba’ Bar has a brilliant collection of photographs from the early 1900’s through to 2016, showing the traditional Kirkwall Ba’ held every Christmas Eve and New Years Eve on Orkney. Asking someone to define the rules of the Ba is difficult. The ‘Uppies’ take on the ‘Doonies’ in a race to get the ball, known as a Ba’, to their goal and secure a win for their team. Whether you’re on the ‘Uppies’ or ‘Doonies’ team is traditionally determined by your place of birth in relation to St Magnus Cathedral, however family loyalty sometimes wins out here! The Uppies try to get the Ba’ to touch a wall at the south of Kirkwall, where the Doonies try to get the Ba’ into the water at Kirkwall Bay to the north. The game can last for hours, with most players not having a clue what’s going on or where the Ba’ is in the scrum of people!
The Ba’ Bar is, of course, named after this event. We are privileged to have our very own Ba’ nestled up in between the whisky and gin bottles behind the bar. The Ba’ is not your ordinary ball, it’s handmade from cork, wrapped in leather and made specifically for the game. Only a few Orcadians know how to make a Ba’ and it’s usually give to the Man of the Game, after the game is won. Make sure you take a look at these brilliant images next time you’re sat at the bar with a drink in your hand.
Nicky also worked with (now graduated) students from the Edinburgh College of Art who had taken part in a trip to Orkney with tutor and illustrator, Lucy Roscoe. They studied the community, landscape and worked with local school children as well as acclaimed illustrator Vivian French. The resulting works were published in a book, “An Orkney Journey”, which you can find in the hotel and enjoy youself. Nicky and a small group of the students from the trip, chose some of the pieces to be published and framed, exclusively for the Dunstane Houses. The chosen pieces have created the stunning montage you can see in the Ba’ Bar seating area. These early career works from the ECA students are just the beginning of their careers in art, and we’re honoured to have their work on our walls.
Many thanks to the illustrators, Mhari Braden, Saskia Cameron, Paige Collins, Hari Connor, Rosanna Corfe, Peony Gent, Valpouri Karinen, Felix Miall, Helga Pavelkova and Mollay Soar for
their art work. Also thanks to Lucy Roscoe and ECA for their support in publishing the montage. It’s one of the most talked about and admired walls in the hotel.
We are currently working on a brand new Edinburgh tour package, based around the artwork in the hotel. It’s going to be incredible, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, why not book a trip with our tame Highlander, Andy and head off into the Scottish countryside…