03 May 2010

Scotland Day 6: Na[i]sm[y]th Day!

I've long considered my surname to be Scottish. This is mostly because someone told me it was, and the person in my lineage who first came to Canada came here from Scotland. And, in my defense, I did see it in book of Scottish surnames once, translated as "knife smith" - that's so not what they told me at the family reunion. Sadly, however, it's not a common enough name to be sold on key chains and shot glasses in the tourist shops. Too bad.

We walked past the public library on our way to our first stop. The library is in a beautiful building, complete with sculptures and pillars (Alej's picture turned out better, so I'm posting that one).

Our 6th day in Scotland was spent in Glasgow. Our first stop was the Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The museum is housed in a massive, ornate building.

The museum/gallery has a massive collection. We spent the morning there and really only saw 1/2 of it. They have an excellent natural history display, looking at Scotland's changing fauna. (They used to have beavers! And they have lots of fish, and monstrously big pike). There was a display on invasive species, and on threatened species. On the history side, there was an Egypt exhibit with mummies and various mummy-artifacts, a look at how Scottish people love the American "wild west," and one looking at the religious problems. Most disturbing in the museum was a display of torture devices that were used to keep women in line back when we were subhuman and had no rights. They were horrible.

Disturbing on the art gallery side of things was the floating heads:

There was also a display on the Scotland equivalent of The Group of Seven, except their group of seven is, like, a group of 25 or something. Art appreciation class in that country must suck.

It was in the gallery portion that I stumbled across this painting:

I knew about Alexander Nasmyth before the trip, because my Aunt had told me I should try and see his famous portrait of Robbie Burns. It was still kind of exciting to see his name there and to see his actual work. Then, a few minutes later I stumbled upon this:

 The very portrait my Aunt told me to go see. I hadn't even known it would be there, I figured it would be at the Burns museum or something. It was a pleasant surprise.

After lunch we walked through the University of Glasgow campus. I didn't take any pictures, but Alej did. It's a beautiful campus. You know how on Canadian campuses, the prettiest buildings are the oldest? Same thing there, except that their pretty, old buildings are so much prettier and older than ours. And they have things like this:

 You're not going to find that in the Killam.

After lunch we went to the Necropolis (would that translate to City of the Dead?), a massive, gorgeous cemetery. Its an incredible place, full of huge and elaborate monuments.
When we went in there, I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be cool if I found a Nasmith?" Not cool that they were dead, but you know what I mean.

That's a picture Alej took of me looking at this:

Is it macabre that I was so excited to see this, that I took a bunch of pictures of it, then posed next to it?

I mean, the spelling is wrong, but I was once told that we only recently dropped the "i," so there's some possibility I may be related to this person. You never know.

This is my favourite sculpture from the Necropolis:

I like it because it reminds me of the stature of Canada mourning that's at the Vimy monument (which is my favourite sculpture because it's the most moving I have ever seen, even though I have never seen it in person).

After the necropolis we spent some time at the Glasgow cathedral, which was nearby.

More pictures can be seen here and here.

Stay tuned! Eventually I will write about our day in Edinburgh!

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