Historic Carlowrie Castle on Edinburgh’s doorstep is the unexpected home to an international collection of ‘Urban’ and ‘Pop’ art.  The  19th-century mansion house set amidst a 32-acre estate just eight miles west of Edinburgh and ten minutes from Edinburgh International Airport, opened its doors in May 2015 as a stunning luxury exclusive-use property and events venue. The Castle’s owner, property developer and former resident Andrew Marshall, has sympathetically restored the house and its grounds to create a remarkably lavish retreat that blends rich heritage with modern elegance and luxurious comfort. The contemporary interiors, scale and proportion of the rooms provide a dramatic showcase for part of Andrew’s evolving private art collection.

Bought by his father in 1982, the castle was Andrew’s childhood 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.

Carlowrie’s public rooms include a lounge, which has an exquisite black and white marble floor, and a library with tall ornate bookcases, decorative cornicing, open fireplace and original herringbone parquet flooring. The newly-restored Orangery with its hand-laid tumbled parquet floor and picture windows on all sides that romantically diffuse light throughout the space, is the perfect backdrop for weddings and special events. Sleeping 18 guests, Carlowrie Castle has seven beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms on the upper level, with bathrooms featuring quarried Italian marble tiling, freestanding nickel and copper baths, walk-in showers and wireless speakers. The bedrooms are fitted with handmade beds and cabinetry, and the bedding is equally plush. On the lower ground floor sits ‘Carlowrie One’: a deluxe 115m2 two-bedroom, two-bathroom self-contained apartment with private courtyard, wood-burning stove and bespoke kitchen.

Speaking about renovating the 19th-century building and introducing outstanding 21st-century interiors, Andrew explains: “I grew up in Carlowrie, it was quite a special place to call home so, when it came to renovating it as a private venue, it was a real labour of love for me. The house has such a wonderful history that I wanted to preserve its heritage and treat the re-design sensitively so none of this narrative would be lost. I’m more than happy with what we’ve achieved. But there’s still one room that remains a complete mystery: the tower on the west-facing side of the Castle. It has a second floor with no obvious means of access at all as far as we know – the building still holds a secret or two!”

Guests at Carlowrie enjoy the privilege of a rare private viewing of Andrew’s personal collection and a unique insight into the work of the world’s emerging artists. The bold “Grandma’s Blues”, one of a number of pieces by Raiber Goh, unveils the castle’s eclectic visual journey.

“I have always loved art and count a number of artists as my close friends,” continues Andrew. “It is tough being an artist. Works of art are not easy to create and it is tricky trying to run a commercially successful business based solely on ground-breaking art. I am fortunate to be in a position to be able to invest and contribute to the art world that I am so passionate about.”

Arriving in London at 22, Andrew was introduced to the world of galleries and ‘art’ stores. The first two pieces that he bought for the Carlowrie Collection were by Raiber Goh, a Cuban artist now living in Spain, and Nikhil Kirsh, a London artist now living in Iceland. Both works now hang in prominent rooms in Carlowrie Castle.

Asking Andrew about his inspiration for the collection, he says: “My early inspiration, I guess, must have been subliminal. I spent many hours skateboarding in parks in the late 80s oblivious to the significance of being surrounded by early urban art. I hasten to add I was not tagging! The notion of ‘urban art’ started as an underground movement of street art, primarily concerned with graffiti culture at a neighbourhood level, with people of different cultures living together. It has now gained mainstream status which has propelled the ‘urban’ art scene into the arena and genre of ‘popular’ culture and art. The acceptance was in part confirmed by the Tate when artists were invited to create outdoor pieces on the Thames side of the gallery in 2008.”

Today urban and pop art represent a broad cross-section of artists. The Carlowrie Collection, as well as covering traditional street artists now working in formal gallery spaces, also includes artists using more traditional media with subject matter that deals with contemporary urban culture, political issues and the irony of today’s mass media and culture. A few of the collection’s artists explain their work in their own words…

Loui Jover

Loui Jover emigrated from Europe to Australia with his family and now lives in Queensland. “Right now I like making ink drawings on adhered together sheets of vintage book paper. There is a fragility to these images that I find interesting (as if the wind may blow them away at any moment) and the hand-drawn stark black lines against the intricate printed words of the book pages offer a strange fusion and depth that seems to give the images a kind of ‘meaning’ and back story, even though unconnected in a contrived way. I never pick the image for the pages or vice versa, they just collide as chance permits. Any meaning they may have is purely created by the observer and their own imaginings.”

Matt Pecson

Matt Pecson studied fine art in Maryland USA and  after a 20-year hiatus working in printing and graphic design has returned to painting. “I create modern art, in a style that’s all my own. My style of modern art synthesizes Impressionism, Expressionism, Abstract Art, Pop Art and more merges into true Post Modern Art. Much of my art celebrates the work of other American artists: Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash and Elvis just to name a few. I paint my heroes. I usually hand paint on canvas, but I particularly enjoy painting on reclaimed items, like wood pallets or doors.”

Raiber GoH

A Cuban-born artist living and working in Spain. “The languages of synthetic memories” is “a place between colours and memories to [reproduce] structural mechanisms of some kind of language system. It is where my memories as a tool, combining bold colours on bright paintings, synthetic colours in front of memories, are transformed during a random creative process into a new psychological experience.”

Natalia Baykalova

A Russian-born artist  and photographer, Natalia studied at Surikova Art College. “I am focused on human emotions, beauty and love to reflect spectators’ mood of mother nature. In paintings I reflect my knowledge, emotions, myself and the world. My paintings are bright and rich. I try to convey simple and clear sense over habitual things.”

Campbell La Pun

Campbell La Pun originates from New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia and is now based in Tokyo. “My paintings wallow in a mash of popular culture from iconic film characters to retro video games and Japanese anime cartoons to comic text. The pictures take people on a dizzying trip through the aesthetics of urban stencil art and the crazy world of Japanese Kawaii cuteness and Kimochi sensations. Using everything from stencils to aerosol and acrylic paint on wood and canvas I career through the modern world, my paintings reflecting the dizzying range of motifs, colours and forms that manifest themselves in the pop culture iconography and advertising images of the global marketplace that attack our senses every moment of every day. Each picture a juxtaposition of East and West, America and Japan. A neon world of candy-coloured madness that perpetually blinks in the artificial brightness of Times Square in New York and the Shibuya district in Tokyo.”

Adam Craemar

Born in Durban South Africa, Adam emigrated to Western Australia in the early 2000s. His style is described as a mixture of Urban, Abstract and Pop. “My main training and influences come from the graffiti art culture in Cape Town and the UK; living and travelling around Europe and Asia and my love of the ocean would mean I always had a love of abstract flow work, as well as the colour blue which is prevalent in most of my palettes. My portrait artwork is derived from a mixture of photographs/images/paintings that are sourced online or via client pictures; then reworked onto either board or canvas. I try and mark the pieces in such a way that allows the viewer to see new marks and complex lines every time they are viewed.”

Today, Andrew’s art collection within the castle walls at Carlowrie numbers 60 pieces from more than 25 countries. Andrew’s vision for the collection is to acquire another 40 pieces over the next two years at which point, he says: “I will be out of hanging space!” Andrew is currently looking for work by young Scottish artists to complement the collection.

Andrew is also a founding partner of Marshall Hurley commercial and residential property developers, who are actively involved in the regeneration of urban areas as well as private houses. Key pieces in his collection hang on the walls of the company’s properties in central London, as well as Andrew’s home in Oslo. A natural link, and a symbol of the legitimisation and acceptance of a once controversial and sometimes illegal art movement involving the defacing of buildings.

Isobel Wylie Hutchison

Andrew is not the only renowned international collector to have lived at Carlowrie Castle. Its most famous resident being Isobel Wylie Hutchison. Her father died when she was just ten years old, leaving provision for her to lead a financially independent life. Born in 1889, Isobel became a renowned naturalist in her adult life: a pioneering Arctic explorer, botanist and author. Many of the plants she collected on her travels remain in the Castle’s gardens.

The large grounds and gardens at Carlowrie enabled the young Isobel to develop her interest in plant collecting and she also had a talent for writing and a flair for languages, assiduously keeping a diary from the age of 14, as well as editing a family magazine. Her first solo voyage was to the Middle East in the early 1920s, and numerous pioneering adventures ensued over the next decade in Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Being the first woman to extensively travel in the Arctic, Isobel met many of the local people. She was always prepared to adapt to whatever conditions she met and collected plant specimens for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and Edinburgh.

Isobel continued to travel for the rest of her life and was a prolific writer, film-maker, poet and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. She gave more than 500 lectures during the course of her life and received many honorary awards: as Vice President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society she went on to receive its Fellowship Diploma in 1932. In 1937 she had paintings accepted by the Royal Scottish Academy. St Andrews University bestowed on her the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1949 for her work as a northern explorer, botanist, writer, lecturer and artist.

Isobel lived in Carlowrie with her sisters Nita and Hilda until her death, aged 93, in February 1982. She is buried in the family grave in neighbouring Kirkliston.