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Paul Gibbons

Joined August 2007

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Interior detail of Macewan Hall Edinburgh

Sir Robert Rowand Anderson designed The University of Edinburgh’s graduation hall in 1874. The inside imitates a Greek theatre with two tiers of galleries, and a half-doomed ceiling with painted figures representing the Arts and Sciences by William Paulin

Sir William McEwan, founder of the well known Edinburgh brewing firm, was MP for Central Edinburgh, a connoisseur of art and a noted philanthropist. Rowand Anderson’s McEwan Hall is a magnificent D-shaped hall with two semicircular galleries served by a pair of ingenious spiral stairs, each arranged as a ‘double helix’ with separate interlocked spirals serving the two galleries, one entered from outside and the other from inside the hall for effective crowd separation

This was the main large hall in Edinburgh, and was also used by the City for concerts and functions before the building of their own Usher Hall in 1914 (built with funds donated by a rival Edinburgh brewer). The commemorative lantern in front of the hall was given by the City, and placed on a triangle of ground cleared of old buildings to create a more open site (though Bristo Place ran diagonally across in front of the hall until Bristo Square was created in the 1980s).

The opulent interior decoration was by William Palin, who had previously worked at the Science Museum, South Kensington. The female figures around the dome represent the Arts and Sciences. Over the arch above the organ are goddesses representing Science, Art and Literature in the Temple of Fame. The murals include Minerva in the Grove of Academe, receiving the gift of the Hall, with the bearded figure of McEwan modestly inserted into the group. The organ was a late addition, and most of the pipes had to be ingeniously fitted in behind the existing fabric of the platform apse. It used the latest in technology, being operated by compressed air but controlled electrically from a moveable console by a flexible cable containing 1500 fine copper wires. The hall was built to seat some 2000 for graduations, concerts and public occasions.

Extract from University of Edinburgh web page.

Artwork Comments

  • Rowan  Lewgalon
  • Jadon
  • JacquiK
  • Heloisa Castro
  • Deborah  Benoit
  • claualves
  • southernvice
  • Bernadette Watts
  • Debbie Robbins
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