It’s Friday the 13th!

It’s that time of the year when the leaves start changing, the air gets cooler, and I get creeped out by works in the collection…

As the Art Collection is an ever-moving beast, on display across the University of Edinburgh’s entire campus and beyond, I am responsible for overseeing the transport of artwork in and out of storage and ensuring locations are kept up to date. However, occasionally I can get spooked out by works that I swear that I’ve never seen before – a fitting topic for today’s Friday the 13th blog!

Let’s start with my favourite. A few weeks ago, I had a move into storage of 40+ artworks due to office refurbishments. It was a great (read: sweaty) game of Tetris in which me and our Collections Care Technician, Robyn, ended up moving approximately 130+ artworks to fit the returning collections onto our art racking. However, after the move while double-checking new locations, I stumbled across this guy, who I had never noticed before:

Portrait painting of a man whose eyes look into the camera.

Noticing the portrait from the corner of my eye

Front facing view of the painting.

Front view of the work – I can’t look at it too long…

Instantly, I was transported to my first viewing of Ghostbusters II (1989) and my 7-year-old inner child freaked out. It’s our Vigo the Carpathian! Hopefully a river of pink slime is not opening up under our stores anytime soon, but I might get Egon and the gang on the phone, just in case…

The second, which still haunts my dreams, is the classic creepy child photograph. Hanging at the very top of our highest racking, I suddenly locked eyes with the little boy and felt horror enter my soul. I was with other staff members at the time, so they saw the confusion on my face as I explained I had no memory of the work in the slightest.

Photograph of an elderly man, a young boy and a man sitting as a trio. The men are looking down at the book the boy is holding, the boy looks directly at the camera.

The photograph as discovered on racking.

A close up of the boy from the former photograph looking straight into the camera.

A close up on his haunting face…


Have I stumbled across something from the photo album in The Others (2001)? Is it connected to Arthur Conan Doyle and his belief in spiritualism? I don’t have a clue, but I’ve recently moved it, so I don’t have to get creeped out by the image too often.

As we have over 8000 works in the collection, I’m not too surprised that occasionally I come across items that I don’t recognise, especially considering some of the works on campus have never been in storage and only return when work is being undertaken on buildings on campus. To be honest, at this point, sometimes I wonder whether a few of my C&CM colleagues are just having a laugh with me, as I’m sure I’ll come across more unnerving items in store soon, especially with Halloween just around the corner!

Anna Hawkins

Museum Collections Manager

End note: The scariest thing about this post might be my photography, apologies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *