Wow, I can’t quite believe I’ve written 250 of these blogs …but well that’s what the records say. My first blog was posted on 3rd March 2009 and talked about the exhibition I’d just had at Great Glen House in Inverness. This is the headquarters of Scottish Natural Heritage and it was a very interesting place to exhibit my work. I have to say that it doesn’t seem like over five years since Nita and I hired a van and drove up to Inverness with the paintings.
A lot has happened since that show in 2009. The following summer saw me living and working as guest artist with the Künstlerbund in the city of Speyer in southern Germany. I worked there for four months and had a really enjoyable and exciting time, creating I think, 14 paintings and 3 pastel drawings. One of these drawings was the large 4.5 m x 1.5m drawing based on the vast great cathedral that dominates the centre of the city.
Just before leaving Scotland to travel to Speyer, I was asked to act as patron to “the gallery on the corner” in Edinburgh. This magnificent little gallery is run by Autism Initiative Scotland and works both as a professional gallery supporting artists affected by autism and other health issues, and as a place for young people affected by autism to learn new skills in retail gallery work and / or practical art …in the workshops attached to the gallery. It was a fantastic launch in April that year and since then; the gallery has gone from strength to strength. Many trainees have completed their apprenticeships and are producing some excellent work. I’ve been privileged to be part of this project and try and visit several times each year to follow the progress of the gallery ….and indeed to exhibit some of my own work there. In 2013 I was invited to hold an exhibition there and it was during the preview for this show that I first met Dan Thornton ….the Seattle based landscape photographer and documentary maker
Talking at the gallery that night, Dan and I quickly realised that although we worked in very different ways, we both thought very similarly about the landscape. Before the evening ended, Dan and his colleague David Feeney asked if they could join Anita and me on our next walk into the hills.
As it happened, the next walk we’d planned was to go back to Glen Rosa on the Isle of Arran. Just a couple of months earlier we had been walking in this magnificent glen with our friend Guy. It had been a very cold day with snow on the higher slopes of the hills and large patches right down to river level at the head of the glen. As I walked up the glen that day I first started to think about doing another Speyer sized drawing. Where as that drawing had been based on the idea of walking around the cathedral, I thought I could do another based on walking through Glen Rosa. When Dan and David joined us for this second walk in the glen….. I started to tell them about my plans for the drawing.
As you know, my plans came to fruition and just a few months ago I created this new large 4.5m x 1.5m drawing. After the walk that day, Dan had asked if I’d be interested in him making a full hour long documentary about my work and its close connection to the Scottish landscape. He was particularly interested in focusing it on the big Glen Rosa drawing project. Since the walk in 2013, Dan has made a number of visits to Scotland and has taken many hours of footage for the documentary. As I write we are now at the stage of seeking sponsorship to cover the costs of editing and producing the film. It’s all come along way since our meeting at “the gallery on the corner” in Edinburgh.
Of course, much else has happened since my first blog. I’ve had plenty of exhibitions and have walked many Scottish hills and glens in this time. It’s been a very exciting period of my life and this last six months with the trip to Brazil and the subsequent commissions has continued in a similar way. And it’s still going on.
Just last week, my colleague Alex Boyd, told me that he had been speaking with the people at the Isle of Arran Distillery and had told them about my work and the big glen Rosa drawing. They’ve been in contact with me and have asked me if I could hold an exhibition in their exhibition space during September and October. They are particularly keen to show the large Glen Rosa piece and have a perfect 5m long wall for it. I’m really delighted with this opportunity as I’m very interested in seeing the big drawing touring around Ayrshire…..and in particular going to the Isle of Arran. The distillery really is the perfect place for it as it is located beneath the very mountains on which the drawing is based. A very big thanks to Alex for opening up this opportunity for me.
So then, there’s lots of work to do to get ready for the three exhibitions that I have lined up this summer. First though, is to get 3 large pieces ready for the “Ailsa Gallery” who will be taking the work to the Glasgow Art Fair at the end of April. After that, I have my exhibition at the John Muir Trust “Wild Space” in Pitlochry during May and June and then quickly followed in August with an exhibition at “the gallery on the corner” in Edinburgh again.
Right then, that’s the end of blog 250. Here’s hoping that there will be many more things to write about over the next five or so years as I creep my way towards Blog 500!