I always say every castle is unique; it may be the owner, the building, a room within the property or its history. I especially enjoy getting to know owners over time and understanding what their drive has been to open up their castles to paying guests.
The cynic would say it is all about money, but not in most cases; it is more about sustainability and giving back to the local community and, of course, sharing these beautiful buildings with others. In my opinion, castles work better filled with people enjoying the surroundings, creating memories and joy in the hearts of those experiencing them.
I was speaking with Andrew Marshall, owner of Carlowrie Castle, recently. Andrew’s background is in property development. Since starting his first company age 23, he has created some of London’s most exclusive properties.
Andrew has also been involved in charitable work, initially as a volunteer, which inspired him to set up his own charity, RESTART, in 2009. Since it started, the charity has transformed vulnerable people’s lives thorough emergency aid, employment, housing and education. I mention this as RESTART receives financial support from Carlowrie Castle...giving back again.
Bought by his father in 1982, the castle is Andrew’s family home. In its entire history, Carlowrie Castle has only ever been residence to two families; Thomas Hutchison, who commissioned its build, a successful wine merchant and one-time Lord Provost of Edinburgh who bought the estate from the Sinclair family in 1850, and the Marshall family.
Designed and constructed in 1852 by eminent Victorian architect David Rhind, Carlowrie Castle is a striking example of a Scots Baronial mansion, with grand stone façade, pitched dormers and high parapets. From the main entrance, the vista to the grand hallway opens out to a light-flooded atrium, with original flagstone floor and sweeping staircase to the upper level bedrooms.
One of the striking things about Carlowrie Castle is not just its location in Edinburgh, or the amazing attention to detail, which has created its outstanding 21st century interiors, but it is the art work that hangs on the walls that makes Carlowrie really stand out for me.
Today, Andrew’s art collection within the castle walls at Carlowrie currently numbers 60 pieces from over 25 countries. Andrew’s vision for the collection is to acquire another 40 pieces over the next two years, at which point he comments, “I will be out of hanging space!”. Andrew is currently looking for additions to his collection by young Scottish artists to complement his current portfolio. You have been told!
One of my favourites is “Nola Girl with Umbrella”, which appeared on a New Orleans wall when Banksy was there in 2008 on the third anniversary of hurricane Katrina. On a grey background is a girl dressed in black, holding a black umbrella. Rain falls from the umbrella like spaghetti, but it is raining under the umbrella, not over the top. The girl holds out her hand to see if it is raining outside the umbrella.
In an interview, Banksy said that it was supposed to symbolize how people may think the best thing for them is helping them, but in reality, it is actually hurting them. She is holding out her hand to see if it is like that outside the umbrella.
NOLA is screenprint 251 from an edition of 289, signed and numbered by Banksy. It is named after New Orleans, where the image first appeared. The edition size of 289 relates to the age of the city.
I love the meaning behind this image and I wonder how many people are standing under their own umbrellas being rained on? Something to think about!