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Art Night Blog – Isla Valentine Wade

Our nights are finally getting that wee bit longer and with it an ever-growing excitement for Art Night. 

One of the best ways to experience the city is to wander the streets. Open Close Dundee have a series of three mural trails around the city. All three maps are available to view on their website and physical copies of the City Centre/Stobswell trail can be picked up at the DCA, McManus Galleries or the V&A Dundee. One of my personal favourites is Lauren Morsley’s lime-green, pink and red gable-end on Craigie Street in Stobswell complete with a pink-eyed snake and colourful carrots.

Just up the road from this is Forte’s, a cafe that does an excellent fry up and the fluffiest scrambled egg rolls. Fortes has been serving generations of Dundee locals while maintaining the same appearance and charm it has had since the 1950s. Dundee is a city of good cheer, but you will receive one of the warmest welcomes in Fortes and it is a superb place to start when exploring outside of the centre. 

Continuing with our mural routes, the city centre trail brings vibrancy and colour to alleyways and hidden lanes. Kirsty Whiten and Fandangoe Kid’s lofty endwall on Tay Street Lane is the largest mural of the centre trail and is situated directly behind one of the finest pubs: The Phoenix. Sitting in the heart of the Nethergate, The Phoenix’s bright-red exterior with neon lit windows and glittering stained-glass is distinguishable amongst its surroundings. Established 1856, The Phoenix is the best choice for a relaxed mid-week pint and is usually busy by week’s end. Like the lettering above the front entrance, ‘Drink & Be Whole Again Beyond Confusion’ is an apt saying, with a bustling atmosphere and a traditional pub feel.

Popular with Dundee’s art community, a favoured mid-way stop up Perth Road is The George Orwell. The bar plays host to live music and welcomes DJs at the weekends. It is low-lit with a relaxed atmosphere and across the road from Wooosh Gallery, a collaborative  project based in Miller’s Wynd Carpark. It is one of those bars that if you wait a little while you will tend to bump into someone you know and the bar is always filled with pleasant chatter.

My first thought for this recommendation list was Fisher & Donaldson, a family-owned bakers that has been operating for just over 100 years. There are a total of three in Dundee: one on Whitehall Street in the City Centre, one on Perth Road and one on the High Street in Lochee. An occasional after-school treat of a pink-iced bun holds much fondness, but the butteries, the bridies, the frog cakes and the wide selection of pies… there are so many good thing to try. Most precious of all is their unrivalled fudge doughnuts filled with confectioners custard and topped with delicious fudge icing.

Just a little down the road from the city centre Fisher & Donaldson is Empire State Coffee. 

Empire State’s toasted sandwiches and sourdough danishes make a great picnic for taking down Riverside Walk. Their coffee is also roasted in-house and is possibly one of the best cups in Dundee. On a sunny day this stretch of water is such a joy to sit beside and is my top recommendation when visiting the city.

My feelings for Dundee can be aptly summarised by a photograph from Joseph McKenzie’s ‘Hawkhill’ collection titled ‘Declaration from off the Rooftops’ (1974). I hope you can share the same sentiment after exploring our beloved city beside the ‘silv’ry tay!’.

Art Night