NEW HAND DYED VEVET CUSHION COVER COLLECTION: THE SKATING MINISTER
For many of us the last year and a half will stay in memory as the time our world suddenly constricted. With countries across the globe in varying states of lockdown, those of us who reside in cities got to experience what it feels like when cities slow down to a point of almost standing still.
For all the burning wanderlust that grew in us over this time and the deep yearning for the kind of perspective-altering inspiration that comes from being exposed to new places, over the last year many of us have had to look closer and deeper in order to learn how to rekindle the embers necessary for a creative spark.
Much of the inspiration we gather comes from the things we encounter while engaging with the world around us. New sights, sounds, tastes and feelings bring with them new ideas and new ways of seeing the world. But after many months in lockdown, the novel had become so scarce that most of us had to learn to bend and flex in order to gather creative energy.
Instead of relying on the energy that flows so freely from the buzz of interacting with other people or the awe and wonder that becomes available to us from exploring new places and new cultures, we have had to find ways to look at the familiar with fresh eyes and pay closer attention to all that is around us.
We have had to learn how to look closer and deeper at what has always been right in front of us, re-examining what is on our doorstep with a new gaze and fresh eyes. I remember one of the few perks of being in the depths of the winter months of British lockdown was the opportunity to walk the otherwise tourist-filled streets of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town. This beautiful, historic part of the city is normally so overcrowded with tourists that we would only ever walk through it to cross over into another part of town.
Last winter, when the streets were all but empty, we would take long, leisurely walks, reacquainting ourselves with this beautifully preserved piece of history through exploring the parks, graveyards, shop fronts and tenement buildings we could never quite see before.
This sense of our big world becoming small and at the same time transforming the familiar into the new, persisted into early summer as we started to slowly emerge out of our long and deep lockdown-induced hibernation. At a time when travel outwith the country was still precarious but our city was slowly starting to come back to life, culture and all of the nourishment it offers for the soul became that desperately needed elixir for our vanquished minds.
Our new collection of hand-dyed velvet cushion cover colours was inspired by this newfound ability to look at what was closer to home with a fresh sense of awe. As I was working on our studio I became immersed in the history of this beautiful city I had just spent a year locked into. Over the course of this year, the nature and architecture that have always been all around me began to offer up new sparks of inspiration in a way that appeared impossible to cajole out of them before. As the city slowly started to awake from its desolate hibernation, its rich cultural delights also slowly started to trickle back into our life.
As I reflected on all the beauty close to home and also pondered the winter months that this new collection of colours would welcome in, I remembered a serene yet joyful painting at the National Galleries of Scotland. This beautiful artwork of a Minister elegantly gliding along the frozen loch of Duddingston Village in Edinburgh, in front of a dusky winter sky captures a feeling I believe we are all sorely in need of after this last year: the ease and pleasure of self-assured, energetic forward motion.
View the image here : The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, also known as The Skating Minister by Henry Raeburn, 1790s, National Galleries of Scotland.
This painting combines so much of what inspired me throughout the last season of lockdown and into the slow re-emerging into life. The rich cultural heritage that this city is known for. The historic links to the church that run deep throughout this city and spill into both this painting and the space where the Ellei Studio is located. The iconic landscapes and cityscapes of Edinburgh that include not only its beautiful architecture but also the breath-taking natural scenery comprised of a dormant volcano and a loch. Finally, a jubilant sense of hope that this winter will see us all gliding out the other side invigorated, self-assured and much more joyful than we came in.
With its serene muted winter colours, The Skating Minister by Henry Raeburn is one of Scotland’s most renowned paintings. You can read more about the history (and controversy) of this work of art here and if you are ever in Edinburgh, you can view it in all of its glory, at the National Galleries of Scotland. With his energetic pose full of motion and full of life, this piece of cultural history felt like the perfect transition into a more joyful cooler season.
The Skating Minister Hand Dyed Velvet Cushion Cover Collection
- Last Light - This cool, pale pink colour with pronounced blue throughout was inspired by the last of the light in the pale pink parts of the dusky sky behind the Skating Minister.
- Winter Loch - The greens, browns and blues in this colour reminded us of all of the depth and murkiness of a Scottish lake in winter.
- Arthur’s Seat - The dormant volcano in Edinburgh’s city centre called Arthur’s seat serves as the backdrop for Raeburn’s Skating Minister and provided the inspiration for this rich brown tone.
- Dutch Skates - The Reverend Robert Walker spent his childhood in Rotterdam and was said to have learned to skate on the frozen canals of the Netherlands. This orangy-pink colour was inspired by the beautiful colour of the laces on the Reverend’s skates.
- Frozen Water - The palest colour of the frozen loch in the painting was the inspiration for this colour that shifts from a pale blue to a pale green to a silver grey.
- The Reverend’s Cheek - Inspired by the fleshy pink of the Reverend’s cold cheek, this colour is just as full of life as the portrait of the skating Minister.
- The Skating Minster - A colour that sits between grey and brown with beautiful green and blue tones throughout, this colour captures the entire mood of the painting as well as the Edinburgh winter: subtle, moody and soulful.