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12 Mar 2019

The Loan Ranger

Written by Louise Hanwright
Sofa in Cedar Room, Pollok House. It's a three seater and covered with a Turkish rug-type fabric in bold orange colours. It stands on a wooden floor against the cedar-panelled wall.
Sofa in Cedar Room, Pollok House
As the Project Reveal Loans Officer I’m not part of a regional team; instead I oversee loans at National Trust for Scotland places all across the country.

My predecessor Jennifer Jones wrote a fantastic article detailing some of the challenging and rewarding aspects of ‘Revealing’ the objects on loan to the Trust.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite items that I’ve seen so far during site visits with the regional Project Reveal teams.

The first property I visited was Pollok House to see what Team West were getting up to. It was here that I had the opportunity to see the vast amount of collection items that the teams work with. I observed photography in action and helped to identify some objects and assign them with unique object numbers. Experiencing this at the beginning of my role has proven to be invaluable in understanding what the regional teams are doing on a day-to-day basis.

Pollok House in Glasgow was an appropriate first venue to visit as some of the initial conversations that led to the formation of the Trust in 1931 took place in Pollok’s cedar-panelled room. In the Cedar Room visitors can find a fantastic three-seater sofa with outward-curved arms and a rounded low back (pictured above). It’s upholstered with a rug-like burnt orange cover with geometrical Turkish-inspired designs. While this sofa is not original to the Cedar Room, one can imagine how interesting it would have been to have been sat here as the future of the Trust was discussed.

The next property I visited was Broughton House in Kirkcudbright, with Team South-West. Kirkcudbright attracted many artists from the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourist movements (c1880–1910), when the Kirkcudbright Artists’ Colony was established. Nestled away on the charming High Street is Broughton House, where the artist and key member of the Glasgow Boys, E A Hornel (1864–1933), once lived.

The painting Balloons at Brighouse Bay shows 3 girls playing with balloons in the woods, with the blue bay in the background.
E A Hornel, ‘Balloons at Brighouse Bay’, 1929

Visitors have the opportunity to stand in the space that Hornel once worked in and study his wonderful artistry in the Gallery. I admired the playful quality achieved in Balloons at Brighouse Bay through the use of colour, expression and the models’ poses, which were inspired by Japanese dancers. If you’d like to read about the influence of Japanese photography on Hornel, I would recommend the stories written by my colleagues Antonia Laurence-Allen and Helen Whiting shown at the end of this article.

By the time I visited the Georgian House in Edinburgh, Team East had already ‘Revealed’ the collection on display. The Georgian House is a wonderful step back in time to a period of opulence and grandeur. Before a visit, I prepare a list of all items on loan to the Trust that are displayed at the property so I can confirm that everything is as it should be. This gave me a sneak preview of the fine artworks on display.

A portrait of a Georgian gentleman dressed formally, standing at the edge of woods and holding a long staff.
Sir Henry Raeburn, Alexander Keith of Ravelston and Dunottar (1737–1819), c.1810 © On loan from Allan & Carol Murray 2004.

Sir Henry Raeburn was one of the best known portraitists of the Georgian period and was in high demand due to his ability to capture the likeness of his sitter. The Dining Room is home to many excellent paintings and it’s in this room that Alexander Keith of Ravelston and Dunottar can be seen. Alexander stands next to a tree with a castle in the background. Interestingly Alexander Keith’s nephew and heir, also Alexander, married Georgina Lamont, who was the daughter of the first owner of the Georgian House. 

Currently, I’m looking forward to visiting Team North East at a property that I haven’t been to before: Haddo House, near Tarves in Aberdeenshire. This stately home showcases the rich family history of the Gordons who played a large role in Scottish history. I’m sure there’ll be fascinating articles to follow from the team, celebrating the treasures on display at Haddo.

Project Reveal is a Trust-wide collections digitisation project. It will result in an updated database with high-quality images and unique object numbers for every item in the National Trust for Scotland material culture collections. Six regionally based project teams, supported by experienced project managers, will work across all our properties with collections to complete the inventory in 24 months from July 2017 until July 2019.

Project Reveal

Find out more about this Trust-wide collections digitisation project.

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