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NADFAS REVIEW/ AUTUMN 2010 53

54NADFAS REVIEW / AUTUMN 2010www.nadfas.org.ukA tale oftwo townsEdinburgh, location of the 2011 NADFAS AGM, is a placewhere the Classical and Romantic combine. Iain GordonBrown, Vice President of Edinburgh DFAS and PrincipalCurator of Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland,describes the city's two opposing, yet complementary facesEDINBURGHBottom right: PrincesStreet with theCommencement ofthe Building of theRoyal InstitutionbyAlexander Nasmyth Right: The GreekRevival RoyalInstitution as it istoday, contrastedagainst the Gothicspires that grace thetop of The MoundIam fortunate in my urban existence inthat I live in the New Town ofEdinburgh and work in the Old. Eachmorning I cross from one world to theother. I spend the day in the realm of theRomantic and return home to that of theClassical. Edinburgh -'Auld Reekie' tosome, 'the Athens of the North' toothers -is often regarded as the citywhich displays par excellence two of thegreat characteristics of the human soulin their artistic expression: here bothclassicism and romance co-exist andcomplement each other. The Mound links these two worlds.This steep and elevated thoroughfareoriginated as 'Geordie Boyd's mudbrig' -a vast heap of garbage andbuilding rubble dumped so as to form aprimitive route of communication acrossa boggy loch between the Old Town onits ridge and the emerging GeorgianNew Town on the open ground to thenorth. Up this road delegates to nextMay's NADFAS conference will movebetween events in the National Galleryof Scotland and the Signet Library. Theformer is a chastely elegant Greek Ionictemple of the arts; the latter an opulentRoman Corinthian shrine to learning.The National Gallery beside The Moundlies in the hollow between the Old andNew Towns, bridging the cultural gap.The Signet Library, set back from theHigh Street, the principal artery of OldEdinburgh, is uneasily embedded in anurban fabric that is a glorious mixture ofthe genuinely old and Victorian re-creations in Gothic or baronial style.Despite Renaissance interlopers, no onethinks of the Old Town in terms of theClassical. It is pure romance, even if thatis itself a romantic fiction expressedthrough revivalist architecture. My daily walk takes me past theNational Gallery and its older and more