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Autumn Report – 2017

November 18th 2017

Autumn report

It has been quite a busy time since the summer with quite a lot of work done and exhibited.

The “Landshapes” exhibition at Dean Clough in Halifax ended in early September and Nita and I had another very enjoyable over-night trip down through the Yorkshire Dales, to collect my work.  Unfortunately none of my eight pieces sold during the course of the exhibition, but it was a very good experience taking part and meeting several of the other artists at the preview.  Interestingly, a couple who saw the exhibition then drove all the way back up from Yorkshire to see more of my work at the studio.

In October the artists at the Courtyard Studios held our annual Open Studios Weekend and this coincided with our annual Courtyard Studios Group Exhibition at the Harbour Arts Centre.  Both events went very well, with around 350 visitors to the studios over the weekend of October 7th and 8th.  The exhibition, which ran for about six weeks, was a pretty strong show I think, with some really good work on display.  Thanks to Maree for making such a good job of co-ordinating the Open Weekend and to Brian for doing such an excellent job of hanging the group exhibition.  With such a broad range of work by 15 different artists, it must have been quite a task!

This summer saw the final completion of a project I started several years ago.  The idea was to create a series of five 80 x 80cm oil paintings based on a walk Nita and I did on Canisp in May 2015.  The weather that day was pretty violent with torrential rain and hail showers battering their way across the wild Assynt landscape.  Our plan had been to walk Canisp via its south eastern slopes, but by the time we had got up onto the broad back of the hill, the heavy showers had arrived, blown along by a very strong gusting wind.  The cloud descended to quite low levels at times as the showers raced by, but in between, there were brief bursts of sunshine lighting up the wet rocky landscape and of course, there were plenty of rainbows as a result.  With the weather being so rough though, we decided against continuing all the way to the summit and instead, from a high point of about 600m we descended north down steep slopes to a small loch situated amongst vast areas of boulders and small crags that had leads of moss and grass running through them.  As we started to make our way across this area we were caught in one of the biggest showers of the day.  The hail was just something else, battering down on us with tremendous force.  We just stood waiting for it to ease.  As it did, Canisp started to reappear, rising up behind us.  The sun came out briefly through a break in the cloud and made for a breathtaking scene.

Even while we walked back that day, I was already having a vague idea for doing not just one painting, but a small series of paintings based around the day.  I started the first piece quite soon after returning to Irvine but 2015 and 2016 were so busy, especially with The Oregon Project, that by the start of this year, I only had one of the pieces completed and another two on the go.  I had figured out five compositions based on various viewpoints throughout the walk and so once we had finished our exhibition in the Tent Gallery, Edinburgh in April, I was able to get back to work on this Canisp project.  The final two paintings are being framed as I type and I am hoping to find a place to exhibit all five pieces together……hopefully sometime next year.  Any galleries out there, who might be interested in showing these works, please get in touch.   Below are images of the five paintings presented in a slideshow:

As I said in my summer report, Graham Byron and I have been working on a new audio visual piece and this has developed well over the last few months.  The piece is technically far simpler than The Oregon Project last year.  I wanted to try and make a piece in which the sound element was a really integral part of the painting…. and the painting an integral part of the audio.  In other words, I didn’t want to use the sound just for audio interpretive purposes, although the sound will still work in this way for anyone with sight loss who visits the work.  After much thought, Graham and his colleague Drew Kirkland, came up with the solution.  This was to mix a single long soundtrack, but engineer it to 5:1 surround sound.  Different elements of the sound would be heard through different speakers.  This seemed like a very good way to take things and the new piece is well under way.  It is based on a series of sound recordings I made one day back in May when Nita and me walked a track along the northern shores of the sea-loch near Kylesku in Sutherland. From these, Graham mixed an initial eight minute long sound track and with this playing in my studio, I have been creating a new oil painting.  The piece is 120 x 120cm and it is based on my memories of the loch-side location as well as my interpretation, through line and texture, of the sounds I heard there.   The painting is almost finished now and I see it rather as a kind of natural graffiti!

Kylesku audio painting

When I worked on The Oregon Project, I came up with the idea of including the sounds of the actual drawing process.  I want to do something similar with this new piece and Graham and I are planning to book a local hall, (which has good acoustics) to record the sounds the various brush strokes make.  Graham will then include these into the final mix.

Although the piece was only partially complete, we decided to get it up and running ready for the Open Weekend.  We had a pretty good response from the visitors that weekend and as a result, were given a short slot in the Barony Centre in West Kilbride, (as part of their Vertex Festival of new music and art”.  This time we were able to exhibit the piece in a proper space with perfect acoustics and with enough space to place the speakers properly.  I have to say, that even with a partially completed sound track and painting, the piece worked well and once again we had a very favourable response.  Apparently the folk at the Barony Centre have talked about the possibility of getting the work back when it is completely finished.  I do hope so as it is a fantastic venue for the arts.  Watch this space.