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Posts Tagged ‘scottish highlands’

Spring and summer 2020

Studio Changes

So of course, everything is very different right now. No longer the casual routine of going down to my studio most days and heading to the hills two or three times a month. Instead, like most folk I guess, I’ve been working from home ….or trying to at least and we haven’t walked further than a few miles from our house.

Prior to the pandemic, Nita and I had already made some big changes with regards our studios. As anyone who has visited my studio will know, for the last few years I’ve been renting an individual unit comprising a large space downstairs and a small space upstairs. This has allowed me to do all my painting work as well as the audio stuff too. It’s been important to be able to play the audio without it affecting another artist. At the same time, Nita (who makes ceramics) was renting a separate small studio in the old part of the Courtyard Studio buildings. With the studio rents increasing significantly over the last few years and my sales sadly falling over the corresponding time, we decided that we should perhaps down size a little. After much thought, we decided that the best way to go about this was for me to give up my small upstairs studio and for Nita to move into it ….giving up her own space in the process. It meant moving a lot of my older work to the house, along with Nita’s kiln, which wouldn’t have been safe alongside all my paints. We spoke to WASPS and they were happy for us to make this move as there were plenty of people on the Courtyard Studios waiting list and we started moving all the gear back before Christmas. It took a lot longer than we originally thought but we had everything done by February and we were just starting to get things sorted …..when the virus changed everything. At least we got all our gear moved before the lock-down and so when we can get back in, we can just start working.

Canisp: Scottish Landscape Art
‘Canisp, a winter afternoon’

A Busman’s Holiday

We didn’t of course, get away for our annual two weeks of walking and relaxing in North West Scotland this May, but did manage to get away for two weeks back in December and so as things have turned out, it was a very good move. Instead of heading up to Assynt and Sutherland as we do in May, we decided to visit a couple of areas a little further south that in the past we had only ever driven through. Our first week was spent staying in Taynuilt, a few miles from Oban. The days involved dodging the rain, visiting numerous cafes and bars and grabbing short walks down to the shores of Loch Etive. I made several lengthy sound recordings close to the point where the old ferry used to cross the narrow section of the loch. It was an interesting mix of sounds, both natural and man-made. Although it was a beautiful location, we were only about a mile from the main road and railway to Oban. Add to this the day to day noises coming from the village and the small airport a few miles away to the west and it made for very different recordings. That said, the overall feel, despite these human intrusions, is still quite wild with the sounds of the huge sea loch, its accompanying wildlife and the general sense of space all around.

Bridge of Orchy
‘Towards the Bridge of Orchy Hills from Ghlas Bheinne’

We moved a little further north for our second week and stayed in a lodge several miles from Fort William and close to the Caledonian Canal. Whereas the first week was very much holiday, the next 7 days were more about work. Prior to coming away, I’d been contacted by a small TV production company. They had been commissioned to make an hour long documentary about how artists with different kinds of sight, perceive their surroundings and go about their work. They had heard about the new audio visual work I have been doing with Graham Byron and Drew Kirkland and asked if they could include a small piece about this work. In short, it was agreed that they would travel north and meet us on the final day of our holiday so that they could get some film of us walking in the landscape and me making recordings. They would then travel back to Irvine on the Saturday and meet me at my studio to record a short interview.

Keith Salmon TV
Filming near Loch Lochy, Scotland

Of course, as we were staying in an area we didn’t really know, we had to spend our time trying to find a suitable location for them to film. It had to be somewhere that would make sense with the work I was doing and be somewhere that was easily accessible for people carrying heavy film and recording gear. As it turned out we actually found the perfect spot on our second day out. It was a section of the Great Glen Way as it winds its way along the western shores of Loch Lochy. It was perfect with the sounds of the loch, numerous busy streams and the regular call of birds ….and very little manmade noise. I actually made five recordings and worked out plans for several paintings by the end of the walk and so it was time well spent. Everything went well on the Friday and the small team got their film without any rain. We did the interview at the studio on the Sunday morning and they were back down in London by the evening. They said they thought the programme wouldn’t be broadcast until the end of the year and so I’ll have to wait some more before finding out whether I made a complete tit of myself!

Keith Salmon interview
Recording interview in my studio.

The walk along Loch Lochy was really important as it turned out because it gave me new material to work on during the lockdown. I’ve actually been working on three 80 x 80cm canvases since I brought my painting stuff home back in early March. Each painting is based on one of the slightly different recordings I made as we walked along the side of Loch Lochy back on December 9th. Each one was recorded at a different time of day, morning, midday and late afternoon. They aren’t finished yet but they are close I think.

loch lochy
Loch Lochy painting 2 , work in progress

Exhibitions – New Dates

As you may know, our first big audio visual piece, called the Kylesku Project, is now finished. See excerpts from the digital version:

Kylesku project – Keith Salmon, Graham Byron and Drew Kirkland

We had arranged to exhibit it at a venue in Lochinver in Assynt this summer, but this has had to be postponed due to the pandemic and we are now planning to hold the exhibition in May 2021. Sadly we’ve recently also heard that the Courtyard Studios annual Group Exhibition at the Harbour Arts Centre has had to be cancelled this year too. That all said, we are still on for an exhibition at the Barony Centre in West Kilbride in March 2021. We’ll be showing the full Kylesku Project for the first time along with a new video work and a selection of my recent paintings and drawings. I am also hoping to do another ‘Big drawing’, along the lines of the big Glen Rosa drawing and so there should be plenty to see and hear. The Barony Centre, being in a big old church, is probably the perfect venue in which to hold an exhibition during times of social distancing ….lots of space!

Beinn Leoid
‘Towards Beinn Leoid, Sutherland’

Still Open For Business

Finally, I just wanted to say that I am still open for business even if I’m not currently at the studio. If you see and are interested in any work here on the website, just email or phone me and we can work something out. Stay safe and I look forward to inviting you back to the studio before too long ……even if it is one at a time!!!

The paintings included with this blog are all currently available and were created between 2018 and 2020.

Ben Oss by Keith Salmon
‘From Ben Oss, winter. Breaking mists’