May: Artist in Residence with Leveld Art Centre, Norway & New Work

So for the month of May I was Artist in Residence at Leveld in Norway, a small village in the Ål municipality, Hallingdal home to 300 inhabitants about 700 m above sea level. Another remote mountainous location: perfect once again for me. I feel like I’ve done just about every remote artist in residence programme that there ever has been!

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I spent the 4 weeks mainly based at the Leveld Art Centre, it’s very much a residency for creatives to go to and be immersed in the village and location without any distractions. There’s not even a shop in the village so it really is about going there to get headspace, think about your ideas and work to develop on a project that needs time and space.

I’ve realised through close inspection and really challenging how I think about my work and how I intend for it to develop that there is very much a clear style within my practise and how I respond to the landscape in which I immerse myself in. A major part of me making the art work is being surrounded in an environment that not only invigorates me in terms of remote and harsh elements, it also provides me with the right visual inspiration for me to go forward with new work. The harsh strong black lines I use convey the significant unique texture, shape and linear quality of the landscape whilst the energetic mixed medium marks are responding to the temporary elements that surround the land. It is about connecting people to this energy that exists in nature. I hope my photos of my work below show this kind of idea and give the work clarity.

And so I won’t go into detail about every piece of art work I made, instead here is some photographs that show the location of the place and some of the new works I produced within my time there! At the moment I’ve just left my post as artist in residence in Leveld and currently in Bergen where I will then depart for Shetland then back to the Scottish Mainland so that’s what to expect from my next posts!

Thanks again as always for reading and if you would like to purchase my work head on over to my online shop for small original works at online shop or you can browse my full portfolio at website.

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The beauty of Treshnish, Isle of Mull

I ventured off to the Isle of Mull having not been on the Island for a few years, eager to see the startling landscape once again and variations of geology that Mull is home to. I was even more excited to stay with Treshnish and Haunn Cottages located right on an incredible coastal farm with panoramic views over to the Isle of Coll and the Treshnish Isles. It’s even close to Calgary beach with many hiking routes surrounding the area so it seemed like a perfect base for me to relax, be inspired but also to see many varied landscapes.

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I was only on the Island for three days but I sure made the most of it. When I go back, (if is not an option) I  definitely intend to just stay at Treshnish point from the cottage and wander around that area as there is so much beauty and variation in the landscape. I would recommend to really take in that area and slow down with the remarkable location of the cottages. However, because I only had a few days I was eager to get out and about and see more of Mull as it has been way too long since my last visit.

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The background of the farm is a very interesting one: There are 8 cottages, 4 at Treshnish, 4 at Haunn but all with simply spectacular views to the vast expanse of sky and sea around the coastline. The property was one that intrigued me in general because of the sustainability and environmentally friendly ethos it promotes. It has been integral to the owners to preserve the quality of it being untouched. Each building has been carefully decorated to a high yet homely standard, many antiquities that fit the purpose of the location. Modern and homely, whilst preserving the natural quality of the cottages as they always were; slotted perfectly into the landscape, years’ worth of history and tales within the walls. They do not impose, they simply blend beautifully into the location, a shelter against (I’m sure some pretty wild elements) however I was fortunate enough on my stay to have 2 days of sunshine and a day of hail, high winds then sunshine again!

The farm also provides many wonderful opportunities for walking and exploring the varied landscape whilst having idyllic beaches nearby including the infamous Calgary Bay! The cottages are even located within the National Scenic Area of North West Mull, a perfect base from which to choose to enjoy the wildlife, (I saw a few golden eagles) walking and exploring lots! There are nearly 4 miles of dramatic coastline to explore – offering wonderful sea and island views.  Look for the Treshnish Islands, Ulva, Gometra, Iona, Coll, Tiree, Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye. The highest ‘hill’ on the farm is Cruachan Treshnish so it is the best hill to climb to catch the loveliest views. My home for the three days was the Shieling, to be honest I would have been happy in any one of the wonderful properties but this was one perfect for just me, cosy, homely and a quiet secluded spot where I could to and process all the inspiration I had loaded up on from the day!

Here’s some more really interesting history about the place:About Treshnish.

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Day 1: 

Carolyne at Treshnish was so helpful and knowledgeable in providing me with information on what to see locally and also around the Island. She organised a boat trip for me to join onto with the team over at Turus Mara, a family business based on the Isle of Mull. They have been running these exciting and scenic tours to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa for 44 years! Tours can be joined from Mull and Oban and run from Ulva Ferry on Mull to the Islands.

I embarked on the tour from the Ulva ferry and what a day it was! Again we were very lucky with the weather, (I like to think that it’s never bad weather in Scotland, you just have to wear the right kind of clothing) however there’s something pretty special about being on the sea under a clear blue sky and seeing the Islands and surrounding landscape in all of their majesty, that and the fact that the sea wasn’t rough! We headed straight for the Isle of Staffa, leaving the drama of Ben More and the sublime mountains of Mull behind us.

Now the Isle of Staffa has been a place that has been on my bucket list for a long time now, having been fascinated by the Islands from a very young age I made a pact with myself to visit every single one, I’m doing pretty well but the Treshnish Isles were still unexplored to me. The approach to Staffa (pillar Island) by sea is remarkable, the linear magnificence of the rock formations jutting out at stacked angles and the great basalt columns which have inspired millions are a geologists dream!

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We had a couple of hours to explore Staffa which was brilliant as the other boat party were just leaving so there weren’t many of us on the Island. I ambled around, heading for the highest point but then of course Fingal’s Cave was calling and I even spent a good few minutes in there on my own before the rest of the party joined! It is a place that no matter how many times it has been documented or how many images I’ve seen of the cave and rock formations, I’ll never forget the feeling of being sat on the rock looking down at the bright hues of the water and hearing the echoes of my voice carried and bounced around the geological forms. An otherworldly experience.

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Turus Mara collected us and we then set off for the Island of Lunga, the larger of the Treshnish Isles. It was here where I realised how popular puffins are! Like Staffa, Lunga is of volcanic origin and the geology there was just as remarkable! Populated until the 19th century, the Island stills bears the remains of black houses. We had a few hours on the Island which meant I could really explore some of the wilder more remote areas of the Island far from any of the tourists who seemed to just huddle around the magical puffins, (understandably.)

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Lunga is designated a site of special scientific interest because of the abundant plant life found there, many rare plants are endangered and native to the Island. I found walking around the high cliffs of the Island with panoramic views out to the West how large a population of birdlife there was, not only the infamous puffins but guillemots and razorbills too, I’m sure there are even more depending on the time of year!

All in all it was a spectacular day from setting off before 12 and not arriving back to Ulva until 6pm. We had plenty of time to explore the Islands and even sailing back from Lunga stopped to see many seals, and the neighbouring islands of Cairn na Burgh MòrFladda and Bac Mòr. Thanks again to Turus Mara for having me aboard the trip, what a fantastic day! If you would like to book a trip out to the Treshnish Isles with them have a look on their site at: https://www.turusmara.com/timetables-booking/ highly knowledgeable about the local wildlife, history and geology, a big recommendation from me!

Day 2

Now my second full day on Mull was mad, I awoke early and with the beautiful weather I wanted to get out and see as much of the Island as possible.. And that I did! I definitely don’t recommend driving as much as I did and taking in an Island as quickly as me, after all I’m all about the art of slow travel but because I was on my own it was brilliant to just be able to stop whenever and wherever to take in the sights! On this day I ventured all the way down the east coast of Mull taking in the views of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula then over the mountain road towards Carsaig. The mighty roads of Mull are spectacular, lochs, towering peaks and many places to stop and take in the views! I drove all the way down to Carsaig and hiked out to the natural arches, this was one of my main reasons for coming to Mull and the geology there didn’t disappoint!

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I spent a good few hours around this part of the Island and then headed off to my next destination: the Isle of Iona! I’ve been to Iona before yet I wanted to go back for a couple of hours while the sun was out (you have to grab the opportunity in Scotland!) I set off for the highest point on Iona, took in the views and then wandered around some of the secluded beaches in the North of the Island.

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I absolutely love Iona with its sacred and unique archaeology. My last stop of the day was the stunning west coast road that leads from Loch Beg all the way up and around to Gruline making my way back to Treshnish that way! A long windy drive but so worth it, this has to be one of my all-time favourite road trips, each bend I was met with either a sheep, (remember to take it slow) a jutting cliff, an incredible view out to the Hebrides or simply a charming home buried into the land. Traces of history everywhere!

Day 3

My last day on Mull and I thought it would be best to make the most of the location at Treshnish and set off for a big hike around the farm. I spent a good while seeing the full immensity of the farm and visiting a viking burial site, a ruined township and many many sheep all roaming around on the hillside. It also was a great opportunity to see the Haunn Cottages, equally as stunning as the other cottages but that extra bit remote! I’ll let the photos do the talking for my walk around the area, it truly is an inspiring place.

If you would like to follow more of what Treshnish and Haunn Cottages get up to follow them on their social media which captures life on the farm and living in a remote yet scenic area perfectly and of course if you’d like to book a stay here is the website once again with all information!

Thank you once again to the wonderful and inspiring Carolyne and Somerset at Treshnish, I’m looking forward to coming back already! Thanks as always for reading and if you have any questions about the place or what I got up to on Mull simply comment below!

 

 

 

The year so far/Cill Rialaig Artist in Residence

It has been a very long time since I have blogged and I really cannot believe that it is nearly May! One of the last blogs I made about my work was after my residency in Sumburgh Head Lighthouse back in November! Apologies for the lack of blogging going on but since the beginning of this year, well just my life in general, I’ve literally went from one place to the next, one project after another barely giving myself a day to rest in between. The beginning of this year started off with me living in Venice for 6 weeks. I received a full fellowship to teach printmaking at the International School of Printmaking in Venice, (Scuola De Grafica) to be precise. It was here where I got to work on my practise, teach my specialisation of lithographic printmaking and explore the bizarrely beautiful man made Island of Venice. I’ve decided not to write a separate post about my time here as already the months have flown in but if you would like to see some of my work made in Venice I have some listed on my page: art site. It was a productive intense 6 weeks of making a new series of monoprints, collographs, playing around with painting and layering on top of the work whilst going to as many classes that were available to me at the School.

Since returning from there I had a few days to catch up with things in Scotland, I missed it so much when I was away. Don’t get me wrong Venice is an extremely beautiful place but it is not natural. I’ve never been immersed in a place that is not surrounded by mountains or nature, I’ve always chosen to go directly north, to places of sparse population and remoteness so it was a challenge for me and sometimes the hectic hordes of tourists and level of mass crowds would really stress me out! However, the history, art and culture of the place was truly amazing and the fact that it has barely been touched for as long as it has been built is astounding. A city degrading in such a beautiful way.

After Venice I then went back to my favourite place; The Isle of Eigg to spend a week’s residency with the Bothy Project. You can read about my time here where I’ve wrote a big article for the Bothy’s Website: Thoughts from an Island.

After the Isle of Eigg I then caught the ferry back to the mainland and flew to Ireland the following day. I told you I don’t give myself much time in between! I spent the beginning of my time in Ireland catching up with all of my wonderful family and travelling around part of the Wild Atlantic Way and The Ring of Kerry gathering inspiration as I went. It was then a 2 week period from the 29th of March to the 12th of April as Artist in Residence at Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat, known as one of the most remote artist residencies in the world; seemed pretty fitting for me then!

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Cill Rialaig Village which was built in 1790 sits high on a cliff at the very edge of Ireland, County Kerry looking right out onto the Atlantic and feeling the full force of the storms and wind that come off the ocean. This area was phase one of a self-help three part economic and social plan for the much neglected Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area of Ballinskelligs, County Kerry. This involved the rescue and redevelopment of the pre-famine village of Cill Rialaig as a retreat for artists, poets, writers, film makers and composers of national and international repute.

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The aim of the village is to have a retreat and creative space for creatives to come to and make work without distractions in a very inspiring location. The residency was one I had known about for quite a while so I was eager to work there. Also Ireland is absolutely incredible, the history, the culture, the folklore, the magnificent landscapes which are so reminiscent of the Scottish ones; plenty to explore and mounds of inspiration for me. I’ve spent a lot of summers in Ireland growing up spending time with my family mainly in the County Clare area where the majority of them live and travelling further afield yet County Kerry was an area of Ireland I couldn’t remember much of and hadn’t got round to exploring as much.

Anyway, it turns out Kerry is incredible! I hired a car for my two week residency as I knew in myself that I would be eager to get out and about and travel around the coastline especially as the iconic Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way route was so nearby! As much as I loved spending time in the quiet solitude of Cill Rialaig Artist Village, I also wanted to venture further and hike, go and see the unique ruins in the area whilst drawing on site as some of the locations around the coast that I had selected specifically were geologically speaking absolutely fascinating.

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My two week period flew by, time stretched out in front of me at the beginning, a feeling of bounds of time, no distractions, me and the immersive cottage/ studio all ready to get set and make work whilst watching the sea right at my doorstep, yet after a few days I realised it was going in so quick (as these things always do) and I wanted to see more and more of the area.

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I had no set project for my time at Cill Rialaig. As a bit of a Residency fanatic I have decided to slow down a bit and realise I can’t do residencies constantly back to back, I enjoy them and have done many since graduating from Art School 2 years ago yet I’ve collated so much information, documentation and work from each one without giving myself time to process them in between so for this one I knew that my intentions were to hike around the wonderful coastline, make work when I felt like it, give myself headspace and make the most of my two weeks of quiet solitude right at the very edge of the Atlantic.

Anyway, here are some images of the work I made on residency. After accumulating a lot of varied drawings and paintings in the past year from residencies in Iceland, Shetland, Norway, Svalbard, Venice, and now Ireland I have certainly amassed a lot that I would like to sit back and look at all together and see how my work has changed and developed from spending time in each place.

Thanks for reading as always!

A sanctuary in the woods

 

I was in need of an adventure, the Cairngorms National Park of Scotland is a place that I have shamefully not as explored as much as the other Highland areas so when I was asked to find unique accommodation which was prime situated in the Cairngorms, I knew just the place.

The Lazy Duck is located in Nethy Bridge, six acres of idyllic land surrounded by sublime forestry and stunning lookouts to the iconic Cairngorm Mountain range in the distance. A haven in the trees, a place almost hidden, only revealing its gems to people who truly want to feel at peace within the landscape and not ‘escape’ but ‘reconnect’ with the simple way of life and ideals that are important. These include; being with nature, lighting your own woodstove and fire and slowing down by embracing the art of ‘slow living’ whilst spending time in a hand crafted accommodation that not only suits the ethos of the area but stands alone in its craftsmanship and peaceful and homely build.

The remarkable site, settled, and sensitively developed by husband and wife team David and Valery Dean has grown organically from the small eight bed mountain hut style hostel to the three more semi off grid huts and bothy, bespoke and original and each standing alone in their attention to detail nestling within the trees or by the water. The ethos of this place is about getting back to nature and slowing down, reflecting on the Highland landscape and getting back to basics; no distractions other than the wonderful setting and location itself.

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I arrived on a clear crisp Wednesday afternoon, via a small road that leads you into a simple haven within the pines. I was met by one of the very knowledgeable volunteers who gave me a tour of the six acres, carefully pointing out all the details of the place and the interesting history of every build. I was honoured to spend my two nights staying in the Lambing Bothy, the latest addition to the Lazy Duck Family.

The bothy itself is right on the edge of the forest where the sheep graze and the hens free range. The bothy stands alone in its original build. Attention given to detail within and out with the hut was clear to see. Every part of this wonderful little shelter brought me back to understanding what is important, the craftsmanship in the make of the box bed and the striking oak table top that fits perfectly within the interior of the place. Everything I needed was there and it begged me to slow down whilst finding comfort in the woodstove, the lookout to the pines that cocooned this spot and the gentle sounds of the animals that wandered the ground around the hut.

I spent my two days at the Lazy Duck finding solace in the location and gaining some much needed head space in the bothy. I drank in the gentle sound of the animals treading the close cropped lambing field watching the light change dramatically every so often over the distant mountains. I listened to birds high above in the towering forest, but most important for me was just being there, soaking it all in, particularly the atmosphere and sacred energy of the place.

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The area is surrounded by some of the most fantastic scenery to be enjoyed in Scotland. When I wasn’t spending hours tucked away in the Lambing Bothy, I was out exploring the area including hours walking around the famous Loch Morlich, a rewarding hike out to Lochan Uaine (The Green Lochan) and taking in the sights of Cairngorm’s northern corries from Aviemore, a paradise for walkers, climbers and nature lovers. A small distance in the car or a hike if you are wanting to really see more takes you to some of the most scenic areas in the Highlands and the Lazy Duck is perfectly situated right in the midst of all of these fantastic outdoor pursuits.

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The accommodation draws in many different people all looking for something different and tending to find whatever it is they are looking for within the peaceful holistic atmosphere of the place. Ranging from ones looking to slow down and recharge on natures ways, hike and explore the adventurous area, be more mindful, or simply want to just relax and respect this wonderful little corner of the earth, a haven for us all. The Lazy Duck site beckons you to ‘unplug’ from the fast paced stressful anxieties of modern life and ‘plug’ into something more, a way of being and allowing yourself time to think, time to feel, time to slow down and simply time.

My lasting impression has been one of pure joy and happiness at getting to spend time at the Lazy Duck. I couldn’t have been more relaxed sheltered in my hut, bringing in the dark nights by the fire which I will say retains the heat exceptionally inside, I was even spoilt and indulged in an outdoor log fired heated tub under the magic of the clear sky and full moon, an experience I doubt I’ll forget! The team were incredibly knowledgeable and speaking to the owners themselves enlightened me even more on the well thought out ideology of the place and what they are passionate about; sharing their quiet sacred corner of the earth with people who want to get back to what is important and spend time finding ‘it’ in the quiet solitude of the land.

And so if you are like me and want to find some much needed inspiration whilst slowing down and reconnecting with nature, head to this unique place within the trees. The Lazy Duck site certainly draws you into its charm and I can’t help but find myself planning a visit back real soon!

For more information and to book a stay at this simple yet special place head on over to their site at:

www.lazyduck.co.uk