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16 Aug 2021

E A Hornel exhibition comes to Drum Castle

The exhibition at Drum Castle includes photography and a selection of East Asian artefacts from our properties across the North East
Drum Castle, one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses, is hosting an exhibition which enables visitors to see through the eyes – and camera lens – of acclaimed Scottish artist Edward Atkinson Hornel.

A prolific artist of the late 19th and early 20th century, Hornel is largely recognised as one of the Glasgow Boys, and well-known as a celebrated painter of landscapes, flowers, and people. His home in the artists’ town of Kirkcudbright, Broughton House, is filled with his work. However, you’ll find more than just paintings in Hornel’s extensive collection – there are also hundreds and hundreds of photographs.

The exhibition at Drum Castle, ‘A Painter Behind the Camera’ focuses on the many photographs Hornel took, commissioned and collected, to serve as ‘building blocks’ for his paintings. The photographs were taken in Scotland, as well as during trips to Japan (1893–4 and 1921), Sri Lanka (1907) and Myanmar (1921). They offer great insight into how Hornel created a library of motifs, poses, models and gestures to use in his work.

Drum Castle in the sunlight with a bright blue sky overhead.
Hornel's photographs have travelled over 200 miles to Drum Castle

The exhibition has been curated by Marianne Fossaluzza – who is studying Hornel for her PhD at the University of Aberdeen, and is a research volunteer for the Trust – alongside Ben Reiss, the Morton Photography Project Curator. As Marianne describes, they ‘have carefully curated a stunning selection of photographs from Broughton House, putting them side by side to explore Hornel’s practice and his perception of – and working relationship with – his models.’

“[Hornel] carefully organised his shots in a very pictorial manner to make photographs easily transposable into paintings.”
Marianne Fossaluzza
Exhibition curator, research volunteer, and PhD student

As part of the exhibition, visitors can also see a selection of objects and curiosities brought back by Scottish travellers from East Asia in the 17th and 18th centuries, which are normally displayed at other Trust properties across the North East. These have been selected and curated by Vikki Duncan, Curator (North & North West).

Some of these objects were imported from East Asia, while others are keepsakes or mementoes brought back by Scottish travellers, such as the lacquer and mother of pearl vanity set that the late David Irvine of Drum’s grandfather gave to his wife as a wedding gift after his own journey. All the items showcase beautiful craftsmanship and echo the props and items visible in Hornel’s photographs.

On loan from Craigievar, Fyvie Castle, Pitmedden, Leith Hall and Castle Fraser, this is a wonderful opportunity to see these items in one place as they are rarely brought together. Carefully curated and placed alongside Hornels photographs, the exhibition tells a far-reaching story that spans centuries and continents.

‘A Painter Behind the Camera’ is at Drum Castle until 19 December. The exhibition is part of the castle visit, and accessible during normal opening hours. No pre-booking is necessary.

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