Notes from Eigg. 1st October 2017
Throughout 2016 I arranged and attended several residencies: in February I came to the Isle of Eigg for three weeks; in April I went to Shetland for a month where I returned in September for a further two weeks, having become fascinated by the outer coastline. These three intense experiences resulted in an outburst of creativity which produced lots of new work. I then went on to be selected for the RSA Open, the Society of Scottish Artists’ Open and after another visit to Eigg, to having an exhibition this spring.
2017 has been different and unfortunately there have been too much distraction from the day job. Throughout much of last winter, I was unwell and then busy reorganising our house. Having run a B&B as a way of making a living in the Highlands and enabling us to continue to live in the house of Norrie’s parents, we decided to add an extra kitchen in the room that had been David Maclaren’s study and use the same rooms instead for a self-catering holiday let. Now, reaching the end of the first season, it is interesting to reflect on the difference it has made and what to do next.
I started writing this blog as a response to my month-long stay on the Isle of Iona at the end of 2014 and have then continued on each occasion that I have been away, alone, to work. However, this year in January 2017 my stay here on Eigg was at Sweeney’s Bothy which is off-grid. This time I wrote a diary. As the writing continued, it became more of a surface involving script rather than a narrative. My intention was to copy and upload it here. I haven’t done that so instead here it is.
I also went to the Isle of Harris with a friend in March. We went for a week and it was a different experience being away to work with someone else. I loved Harris and did a little work but was not there long enough for the concentration required to make finished pieces.
In May I went to Iona with a group of painters which resulted in an exhibition in Edinburgh. It was a bit of a muddle and I decided not to show work.
In June we went to the Isle of Barra to choose a puppy. I gave him to Norrie for his birthday, although Rob and Kate were so generous they wouldn’t accept any money. Crinan has now become the love of our lives, much to the displeasure of our three cats who are slowly learning to live with this over excitable exuberant being who jumps about, wanting to play almost all day.
The most memorable place I have been to this year was to the Faroe Islands. I went there with our friend Will. After being taken to Fair Isle as a sixtieth birthday present, I was fascinated by going even further north and although we only went for four days, it was entirely thrilling. I knew there wouldn’t be enough time to do a lot of drawing so I slimmed down my kit, but still had to have hold luggage, as there were things I knew to be on the banned list. I took a sketchbook and filled it in forty-eight hours, even drawing as we drove!