education

A stopover in Shetland

So up until now I’ve not really stopped travelling. I left Norway the third week of May and then went straight to Shetland, then onto the mainland, then up to Ullapool, over to the Isle of Lewis where I travelled down through the Isle of Harris, Berneray, North Uist, South Uist back over to Mallaig where I then caught the ferry to Eigg to where I am right now. Talk about going the long way around. I’m going to spend quite a bit of time though on this post showing some of my photographs and travels around Shetland, a place that will forever inspire me, also because I took so many photos whilst there and had such a great adventure.

I spent only a few days in Shetland having explored the Islands quite thoroughly in the past few years and me being me I decided to fly back to the Scottish Mainland via Shetland from Bergen, a good way of connecting the landscapes together. My accommodation for my few days in Shetland was the beautiful homely and well situated Ortolan House B&B, a large Georgian townhouse dating from the 1780’s, well located in the central conservation ‘lanes’ area of Lerwick, less than a minute’s walk from the bustling main street which is home to all amenities. Ortolan has a wonderful well-established walled garden with stunning views overlooking Lerwick’s busy harbour and the tranquil island of Bressay. The property offers two exclusive bedrooms with an emphasis on having a relaxed and comfortable stay and I certainly did have that! Here’s a few images of the accommodation and the places I explored whilst on the Northern Isles.

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Sunday

My first full day began with a trip over to the neighbouring Island of Bressay. A quiet place but home to many wonderful clear coastal routes, I aimed for a few hours there to take in the sights and also view Lerwick from a different perspective. I spent my time wandering around the Island and taking sanctuary in the beaches that surround the west coast of the Island. I then spent the rest of the day wandering around the Mareel and Shetland museum, always a great place for finding new contemporary art that’s inspired from the unique Shetland landscape. It was then onto Burra for a coastal hike with a couple of local artist friends, impressive geology and wild seascapes leading us around the shore.

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Monday

I set off in the morning for an Island I’d never been to before. I’ve been to every single one of the Shetland Islands now apart from Foula and Fair Isle, that is a must for in the autumn of this year! And so Whalsay it was, without a clear plan I headed off for the ferry with just one aim, try and hike around most of the Island and see the unique natural wonders and coastal paths.

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Tuesday

On my last day of my short trip I hiked out to the Knab, one of my favourite coastal walks in Shetland and ideally located so close to Lerwick, such incredible views over to Bressay and down to the south of the mainland. It was then onto a boat trip around Bressay with Shetland Sea Bird Tours, the same lovely couple who ran the accommodation I was staying in. Turns out both Rebecca and Phil not only run their homely Ortolan B&B they also are very knowledgeable and expert guides on bird and sea life. Not only do they stock an enviable natural history library for their guests but with their combined knowledge and expertise they are perfectly placed to advise and even facilitate your time in the field. The trip to Shetland was perfect in gaining some inspiration from a landscape that so richly appeals to me, and leave with a new appreciation for the varied geology there.

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Again another wonderful trip, I’ve realised that my blog is turning a bit into a travel, photography and art blog which I don’t mind one bit. I’ve gone from one project in one country to the next consistently this year and I find it good for myself and reflection through my art to document and write what I’ve been up to in the place. It’s also really fulfilling for me to share it with you all so again thanks for reading this. My next blog is going to be about my further onward travel around the wonderful Scottish Islands where I’ve been recently, it’s good to be back in my home country, a place that inspires me to the highest level and always will do.

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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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Fourth Year Art School, leading up to Degree Show!

I am now in my final year at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

I know it is going to fly in but I am looking forward to life after graduation. Even though I have completely made the most of my University holidays and travelled, I still have never taken a proper ‘gap year’ to just immerse myself in exploring and travelling on the road. I am looking forward to it!

Does anyone have any suggestions of where to start? Bearing in mind I have already travelled to Iceland, all over the UK, Australia (I will go back there though) and all of America.

I can’t make my mind up, I may just head off on the road for two years so I can go anywhere and everywhere.

Anyway in terms of my final year at Art School I feel happy that I’ve developed my Art practise, I know exactly where I want my work to and what purpose it will serve. I am fascinated by the ‘Spirit of Places’ so I feel that as a title sums up my practise exactly, my work is going in a direction that I am happy with and I feel that I have pushed it as far as possible in development in terms of my Degree Show. Currently I am working towards finalising everything and making sure that all the work I have ties together to form the basis of the idea ‘traces of the land’ and ‘spirit of places’.

So here’s what I’m currently working on!

I am in the midst of finalising a large scale 8ft long painting that captures the true overwhelming and sublime mountains of Torridon.

Secondly, I have made a large 12ft long board secured to a frame that I have bent. Because my overall meaning behind my work is the sublime feeling you get when surrounded by powerful landscapes, my idea to have the board secured to the wall, bending on a panoramic scale around the viewer will serve it’s purpose in getting the meaning across as the board will curve around the viewer so they are restricted by the lines of the drawing.

Also, I am working on large scale drawing from working outside in the elements. These will be viewed on a portrait large scale and have been worked on, using layers and exposing to the harsh often unforgiving elements of Scotland. I have used natural resources to build upon the mark making, leaving outside, drawing with branches to get a range of marks and using lots of washes. I have really enjoyed working in this way and will continue to do so.

Within printmaking, I have been developing as far as I can go in lithography. I have 5 A1 size photo lithographs that are based on my photo’s from Iceland. The close up ones of the land have worked best in printmaking as when printed they have a grainy textured look with suits the ‘traces of the land’ idea. I have also been working on plates that I have used gestural brush strokes and marks on to form different layers on top of other prints. Lastly, I have also been developing my wood lithography technique, this has also worked extremely well in conveying the true ‘marks of the land’ by using silicone and drawing straight onto the wood, when I print straight off of it, the grain of the wood makes very deliberate and brilliant lines onto the paper.

Leading on, I am in the process of putting together an Artist’s book. This will very different from just simple ‘bound’ or ‘professional’ artist books. I intend to have it coinciding with my complete Degree Show, this book will be made up of natural materials. It will a series of put together pages from my sketchbooks, my professional photographs, my writings from my travels to the remote lands, my drawings and documents. Each page will be contrasting with the other but will show the way I work in my different mediums and tie the whole meaning and idea behind my Degree Show together. It will back up my travel journeys, and also shed light on what has inspired my large scale paintings.

Lastly, my photographs. I have built up a large series of photographs throughout the past two years. Some of I have kept just as photographs, other I have used for large scale lithographs or used as inspiration for my paintings/ drawings. I will keep posting my series throughout this blog, but in terms of my Artwork I will select the best of where I have been, from the Isle of Skye to Iceland and make sure they are shown in a way that reveals the true raw nature of the wild places I have ventured to.

Altogether, that is a basic summing up of everything I am up to in the next 8 weeks leading up to my Degree Show. I will post photos and what I’m up to in my studio every now and then for you all to see!

The DJCAD degree show opening night is on the 16th of May and is on for a week. Make sure you try and come along, it’s going to be a good one!

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