Saturday, 25 June 2016

Painting Mr Millar’s Institute in Cromarty

Now everyone packs something different in their holiday suitcase.

In the case of Peter it’s a guide book to those interesting if quirky buildings and his paint box.

And armed with these two essential holiday requirements he not only came across the Hugh Miller Church Street Institute in Cromarty but did it in acrylics on his visit to Scotland at the beginning of the year..

Of course that is to underestimate just what he does but like the Philosopher’s Stone no matter how many times he explained his technique I might as well have been listening to a medieval alchemist.*

But there is no denying that he has captured the Institute perfectly and I suspect Mr Miller's fans  would have been pleased and might even have snapped up the painting placing it amongst the fossils he had collected and the religious tracts he had written.

And that pretty much was Mr Miller.  He was born in 1802, was a self taught geologist and writer but was also an evangelical Christian and died with still much to contribute in 1852.

According to one source “he left a heritage of new discoveries of several Silurian sea scorpions and many Devonian fishes, including and though he had no academic credentials, he is today considered one of Scotland's premier palaeontologists.”**

It was fitting then that the Institute should carry his name and was partially funded by Andrew Carnegie that the Scottish industrialist who having made a shed load of money on the backs of American steel workers chose to return some of it as gifts to the workers and their families in the form of libraries and institutes.

The Cromarty Building was opened in 1903, listed in 1980 and just thirty-six years later was waiting for Peter to do it in acrylics.

Now it is easy to over romanticise men like Mr Miller but there is no doubt at his achievements and all those other self taught men.

Painting; the Hugh Miller Institute, Cromarty, © 2016 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures, Web:

* Philosopher’s Stone, the legendary substance, allegedly capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold

** Hugh Miller,

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