Ann Street, Edinburgh No.17
By Carola Gordon

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Year
1986
Media
Watercolour
Subject Matter
Urban and Architectural
Reg. Number
L21
Size
56.5 x 70 cm

Legend has it that Edinburgh's exclusive Ann Street was a favourite of the Queen Mother. Its sweeping, Georgian grandeur appealing to her sense of aesthetics to such an extent that she would insist on her driver taking detours along it whenever she was in residence in Edinburgh. It is not hard to see what appeal she found here. This is the New Town area at its most charming and refined, a spacious, peaceful idyll set right in the heart of the bustling city. Designed by Scottish painter Sir Henry Raeburn and architect James Milne in 1817, Sir John Betjeman once declared it the most attractive street in the whole of Britain, praise indeed from such an outspoken admirer and defender of British architecture.

Carola captures this gentle elegance with considerable skill in her delicate ink and watercolour painting. The quiet sophistication of the street is ingrained in the execution of the work, with careful dabs of colour balanced nicely with pin-point ink definition. The colours themselves, meanwhile, are muted and bleached in appearance, with very little variation in tone or intensity throughout the piece. Rather than diminishing the power of the painting, this simply adds to the innate sense of grace that pervades the image. This is a work of art that soothes and relaxes rather than challenging and confronting, effortlessly capturing an intangible sense of place and time with a sharp eye for detail.

The sweeping spaciousness of Ann Street itself is indubitably present in the artwork, and there is an airiness and light to the piece that benefits from its precise composition and naturalistic colour-scheme. The painting has the look and feel of a fresco with its decorative, dignified quality and flat, stylized perspective.

Born in 1940 in Lucknow in India, Carola Gordon lived in South Africa and Norway before gaining an Honours Degree in English from Cambridge, followed by a Drawing and Painting Diploma from Edinburgh College of Art. After several international lecturing jobs, she participated in a number of exhibitions, showing her fabric collage and watercolour pieces in and around Edinburgh.

With thanks to New Hall Art Collection and Open Eye Gallery for information about this artist.