Jewellery Studio in Dundee’s industrial quarter


Manhattan has lofts, London has warehouses, Dundee has mills.

Giant, impressive disused buildings ripe for refurbishment and reminders of Dundee’s 19th century history as a textile trading capital.

There are no working mills left in Dundee today, but Meadow Mill home to WASPS’s 58 artists studios and gallery space over 4 floors, remains as industrious as ever.

This weekend at Meadow Mill, a party was thrown to celebrate the whirlwind first year of Vanilla Ink, a first of its kind jewellery studio providing a 1 year development programme for graduate jewellery designers.

In just 12 months, founder Kate Pickering, a graduate of the Masters of Design for Services at Duncan of Jordanstone has started her business idea from scratch based at WASPS.
Vanilla Ink set out to foster 8 talented jewellers, who are now in a better place to operate their own individual businesses. Along the way Kate fundraised £8,000 to take Vanilla Ink to International Jewellery London and has been crowned a Trailblazer in Professional Jeweller Magazine’s Top 100 List, and has recruited the next group of designers for 2013-2014.

Kate, funny and modest, says its been an incredible year and she hopes to see the concept, delivered with the help of the creative community in Dundee, grow in other cities.

Visit Vanilla Ink Studios for details of resident jewellery designers and jewellery making courses.

Across the road from Meadow Mill is Verdant Works , Scotland’s Jute Museum.

WASPS Artists Studios




Dundee makes the shortlist for City of Culture 2017

Today, Ed Vaizey MP announced Dundee has made it to the shortlist for the title of City of Culture 2017.

Im taking a minute to scream with HAPPINESS here. This is wonderful news that reflects the renewed self-esteem that Dundee has in abundance right now !

Dundee’s bid document is focused around hosting four week-long themed festivals celebrating the city’s cultural assets – The River Tay, the Environment, the People and the city’s Heritage. Themes people said they believed were Dundee’s greatest offerings during a month long online campaign at

Stewart Murdoch, Director of Leisure and Communities at Dundee Council (who actively ensured the community of Dundee were part of the whole process so far)  said “These are celebrations of the river, the environment, which would take place in the summer, our people and heritage, and lastly, the light, which would recognise the artists who have come to Dundee and settled here.  The idea is that these are themes can be built upon by the people in Dundee and would create four weeks of high-points that would coincide with holiday periods.”

Ive been an active supporter of the We Dundee campaign and was one of over 150 people who turned up at McManus Galleries to send off the bid last month.

Happy Flashmob supporting City of Culture bid

Happy Flashmob supporting City of Culture bid

The next deadline is September 30th where the 4 shortlisted cities – Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay- submit their full proposals with the winner being announced in November.

I loved this quote that was posted on the we dundee website recenty “What surprises me about Dundee is its distinct character, as though it were an admired, trusty and respected friend to it’s inhabitants and visitors alike. The city’s bairns form the roots of this collective character that comes through in strength; it welcomes me home and puts me at ease. I smile and long to stay.”

Twitter: @dundeehour #cityofculture2017

Read Dundee’s City of Culture story as its progressed here

Let The Right One In for the Theatre

So, is this what modern theatre is like ? said my friend at half-time. We were on a night out to see the UK Premiere of Let The Right One In, at Dundee Rep. “It’s not what I expected, its really exciting”.

I’m pretty sure this is exactly the kind of reaction, award-winning Director John Tiffany was hoping for when he created his stage version of the Swedish cult vampire novel and film for National Theatre Scotland. He’s been on a mission for years to stamp out the middle class association with theatre, and bring it to a wider audience.

Photographer Albert Watson

Photographer Albert Watson

With the support of Let The Right One In fans scattered across the world this is exactly what will be happening at Dundee Rep on Saturday June 13th. These dedicated fans who communicate through a forum known as “We, The Infected” have donated enough ticket money to send 2 classrooms worth of Dundee pupils to see the play in their place. In return they will receive the programme, poster and ticket from the performance – and of course the knowledge that they’ve helped ‘let the right ones in.’

“We have to make theatre that people can’t NOT go to.” said John Tiffany recently in The Herald. And that’s exactly what this is. The subject matter of vampires, vulnerability and forbidden love delivers a mash up of emotions for the audience to explore during and after the performance. The eerily beautiful forest set created with 40 silver birch trees inspired by Tentsmuir Forest, the energetic dance-inspired moves of the actors, the spot-on 80’s themed costumes and hairstyles and of course the fantastic acting and much loved storyline itself, make for an electric atmosphere and you ll wake up the next morning, wondering when you can go and see it again!

Top tip: pay attention to the morse code in the theatre programme and work out what Oskar messages Eli in the final scene – and then let me know!

Let The Right One In at Dundee Rep Theatre
Dates: 5-29 June 2013 Tickets £13-17 (concessions available)
Box office: 01382 223530 Online Booking:
National Theatre of Scotland
Twitter: @NTS #LetTheRightOneIn

Read more about LTROI and other creative events and endeavours going on in the city, at Creative Dundee, my favourite website



Experience the other side of Dundee with a location-based horror game for iPhone which uses sound to unleash a hidden adventure on Dundee’s streets. It’s free to download from the iphone store but you need to be in Dundee to play the game.

D’Arcy Thompson Pub & Dining Room, Dundee

I love taxidermy. My bus used to drive past the Get Stuffed shop in Islington every day and I’d love looking inside, perplexed at the time as to what kind of shop would have a window stuffed with rigid creatures.  So when I read about Darcy Thompson, Dundee’s new pub and dining room with an interior using taxidermy and the secret Zoology Museum of the same name, I was there.

The D’Arcy Thompson Pub & Dining Room was very inviting on a late Friday afternoon. The simple palette of polished wood, exposed copper piping and original feature windows are a perfect backdrop to the “taxidermy” inspired details jotted around the space.  Serving lunch and dinner and a superb cocktail list this is going to be a firm favourite.  For a special group occasion I’d recommend booking the round dining table in the snug.

I think I liked the pub even more for being so clever to take its inspiration from The D’Arcy Thomson Museum of Zoology.

What a nice afternoon that would be, to visit this “secret” museum”  with its collection of curiosities and then follow it up with a late lunch just a hop and skip away.

Named after the University of Dundee’s first Professor of Biology, D’Arcy Thomson, it houses the collection of specimens he collected from all over the world. The  gorilla, elephant and crab spider skeletons are impressive and kids will love it, but its the tiny beautifully curated displays of taxidermy that stole my heart.

The D’Arcy Thompson Museum of Zoology will be open every Friday during the Summer Holidays.  keep tabs on talks and events at

The D’Arcy Thompson Pub & Dining Room, 21 Old Hawkhill, Dundee, DD1 5EU Tel: 01382 322 694  Open 11.30 to midnight daily for lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks. Twitter: @thedarcythompson

Steak Barn St Andrews

Stumbled upon this outdoor pop-up restaurant, The Steak Barn at Balgove Larder, just as you approach St Andrews.

Only open over the Summer on a Thurs- Sun so worth a visit before it pops-down. Serves up steaks, burgers, sausages all from the farm, cooked on an open grill. Lots of delicious sides too, chips, corn on the cob, portobello mushrooms AND the best puddings. Salivating just thinking about it….. no need to book. Open from 12-8ish. Tel: 01334 898145 or twitter @Balgove

Don’t just take my word for it – get the foody review of Steak Barn from

Bistro BBQ at Balgove Larder, St Andrews

The Grand Grill cooking up sizzling steaks, burgers and sausages from the farm

The Steak Barn – structure built up from massive wooden crates

Steak Barn – atmospheric outdoor restaurant

Dundee meets the Dalai Lama

the 2nd thing was – the Dalai Lama came to Dundee, and I was there to hear him give his lecture on “Education of the Heart”.

It was a very moving afternoon, even though he arrived 2 hours late from his visit to Edinburgh. It didnt matter too much as the Caird Hall is quite a place to hang out and the atmopshere was buzzing. The line up before HH (His Holiness) came on was a variety of songs, music and speeches – Mr Brian Cox’s opening speech in particular was stand-out – passionate and very fired up. A highlight was the school children who had prepared questions and videos about their perception of the Dalai Lama.

Im still going through a lot of what he talked about – so Im afriad I couldnt even begin to put into words his amazing take on the world – but his message and his advice to achieve happiness was to show compassion – not only to our loved ones, but strangers and even enemies, to embrace warm heartedness at all times and to put others first. The whole experience was very moving and there was not a dry eye in the house it seemed (even Brian Cox had a wee cry).

also rather incredible were the Signing Choir from Claypotts Castle Primary school – they gracefully signed (as in sign language not sing) their way through an operatic song for HH, who seemed to love it. He giggled at the children, shook each of their hands with a little bow even returning for a kiss on the cheek before he left the building. click onto the flickr link below to see the special moment. also see courier link for full story. What will the coming weeks bring I wonder ?








Dundee meets the Dalai Lama …and our city is featured as a fashion hotspot in Grazia Magazine !

Last week 2 things happened in Dundee that caused quite a furore, a good furore!

1st thing – Dundee gets recognised  as a “Fashion Hot Spot” in fashion bible Grazia ! In terms of perception of the city, believe me this is a very good thing whether you read Grazia or not.  With the help of my good friend Nadine, I played my PR part in helping the journo put her edit of places together.  We treated our journo to a fine time in Dundee, she had her hair cut and coloured at McIntyres Salon on Union Street which she said was a “fantastic experience”, visited the DCA, stopped by my current favourite store ‘Spex Pistols’ at Westport and even made it through to Broughty Ferry to see the spurt of new independent shops there.  (not sure how to make this image bigger, drop me a line if want me to email you the PDF version)

Dundee…as seen in Grazia magazine

Grazia cover – The Scottish Issue

Dundee Shares its Brightest Talent

Its been quite some time since I posted!  Xmas last year to be precise which is quite embaressing. Life got a bit complicated and  the blogging thoughts were pushed clean out of my head.

But the combination of brighter Springtime evenings, reading the brilliant (and regular) posts of fellow local blogger and attending Dundee’s Art School Graduate Degree show last night have co-erced me into breathing life back into the beautifuldundee blog.

The annual Duncan of Jordanstone Degree Show opening night has a great reputation in the city. Theres a palpable buzz in the air up and down the Perth Road (where you can find the art school ) as visitors take  the opportunity to wander around the halls, taking in the students course work and inspirations and enjoying the offer of a cup of wine here and there.

My friend Sooz (a former Interior Design student from the art school) and I have started a tradition of buying a piece of art direct from the Students each year.

This is a lithograph my husband and I bought at the 2011 Degree Show , by Edinburgh based artist Daniel Cook

Artist-Daniel Cook, Duncan of Jordanstone, 2011

And below an amazing painting we have by artist Aimee Henderson, originally from Carnoustie who studied Fine Art at at DJCAD.  Aimee went onto be nominated by the Royal Scottish Academy as a New Contemporary Artist and will soon be studying for her MA at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London but is spending this summer painting and selling some of her art work.  You can contact Aimee about the work she has available to sell via her website

Artist-Aimee Henderson, Duncan of Jordanstone, 2011

And these are the paintings we bought last night by artist Katie Ward.  We cant wait to get them home once the degree show week has finished and hang them up in the living room. I absolutely love them.

Artist-Katie Ward-Duncan of Jordanstone, 2012

check out for details of the 2012 Duncan of Jordanstone Graduate show which is on until 27th May. Admission free.

Champagne & Onions in Broughty Ferry

If you happen to be looking for an enchanting and atmospheric evening befitting of the night before Hogmanay, this promises to be one of those.  Acclaimed Irish solo guitarist,  Mark Anthony McGrath will be playing his album ‘Champagne and Onions’  on Friday 30th Dec at the Grade 2 listed ‘Masonic Hall’ in Broughty Ferry.

Mark McGrath plays Broughty Ferry 30.12.11

If you re a fan of classical guitar or indeed not had an opportunity to listen to live classical guitar before, Mark plays on  6 and 13 string guitars, (one of which was made for him by craftsman William Kelday of Campsie Glen) and creates music that seems to cast a soporific spell over his audiences.

‘Champagne and Onions’ is Mark’s fourth solo album and features original compositions alongside traditional Scottish music including the curiously cheery “Neil Gow’s Lament for his Second Wife” and “The High Drive” the famous reel by the late great Pitlochry piper, Gordon Duncan.

A characterful figure around Broughty Ferry, Mark is a former  guitar instructor for Dundee and Angus Schools and lives in Ireland or wherever the music takes him!

You can listen to a free downloads of McGraths music here. Hope to see you there.

I have all of Mark’s CD’s and they are brilliant.

Celebrate a year of ‘Champagne and Onions’ and other delicacies on 6 & 13 string guitars at the Masonic Hall, 152 Brook St, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Friday  Dec 30th @ 8pm.Adm ₤7/5 .  Bar at venue.