A set of stunning murals, which decorates the entrance hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
in Edinburgh, is to be cleaned for the first time in a quarter of a century, as part of a major conservation project funded by WREN
, a not for profit business that awards grants to community projects from funds donated by Waste Recycling Group (WRG) to the Landfill Communities Fund.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery opened in 1889, as the worlds first purpose-built portrait gallery. The decorative scheme created by William Hole in the late 1890s for the Gallerys magnificent entrance hall, is one of the buildings most striking features. It comprises a dazzling, painted procession of famous Scots (including David Livingstone, James Watt, Robert Burns, Adam Smith, David Hume, the Stuart monarchs, Robert the Bruce and Saint Ninian); a series of large-scale murals, depicting scenes from Scottish history; and a beautifully detailed mapping of the night sky, which adorns the ceiling.
The work is currently being carried out under the supervision of the National Galleries of Scotland Conservation Department, working with students from UK and overseas universities, including the Courtauld Institute of Art, London; Northumbria University, Newcastle; the Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart; Winterthur University, Delaware; and Metropolia University, Helsinki. The results can be seen when the Gallery, which has recently undergone a major refurbishment, re-opens on 30 November.
William Holes decorative features have been central to the fundraising campaign behind this ambitious project. Supporters are invited to buy a star from the ceiling of the Great Hall or one of the figures from the historical frieze, including William Wallace and James Watt. So far over 320 stars have been sold and half of the figures, with many still available for those who wish to donate to the project.
Lesley Stevenson, Senior Paintings Conservator at the National Galleries of Scotland said: This is a unique opportunity to conserve William Holes great masterpiece such an integral part of this spectacular building. We are delighted that so many young conservators are able to gain invaluable experience on this exciting project and are grateful to WREN for their generous support.
Peter Cox, managing director of WREN, said: WREN makes a difference to peoples lives by awarding grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK. Were delighted to support the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and this valuable work to restore the entrance to its former glory.