Monthly Archives: September 2014

Mountains of Rum from Laig Bay

The photographs above show details of two paintings – ‘Mountains of Rum from Laig Bay’ and ‘Mountains of Rum from Laig Bay 2’.

In these works I wanted to combine simplicity and texture, and capture the stillness of Laig Bay (on the west coast of the Isle of Eigg) in the early evening. This was my first experience of this view, and I think there’s something about first impressions of landscape that can affect us in a different way from a view that’s familiar to us, or ‘every day’.

As an artist it’s all about trying to be present. The impact of a view as epic as this seems to empty the mind of its familiar habits or ‘chatter’.

In photographs, Laig Bay looks at its best in bright sunlight, but being there, on this particular evening, the mountains revealed themselves slowly from behind the clouds, even the waves seemed to move in slow motion

Rum from Laig Bay 1. Acrylic and ink on 10x10" wood

Rum from Laig Bay 1. Acrylic and ink on 10×10″ wood

A friend of mine, the talented poet Jennifer L Williams, responded to a later painting I made of this view (the full poem can be read Here). Although she hadn’t heard me describe my impression of the view, the lines of her poem captured this stillness, also the sense of closeness to the elements..

Outside where we belong with the fire and the sea’s glass
Its waves of green astonishment lavishing the sand
The creatures of the deep and the wild salt


This sense of closeness to landscape feels to me like ‘being in on a conversation’ – it feels as though there’s no barrier between you and the landscape. And when you think about it, there isn’t.

Rum from Laig Bay. Acrylic and ink on 10x10" wood

Rum from Laig Bay. Acrylic and ink on 10×10″ wood

I added sea salt and sand from Laig Bay to these paintings (you can see it especially in the bottom of this painting on the left). Sand adds a slightly sparkling impasto ‘body’ to the painting, and I like this because it adds something visceral to the painting – something tangible, not distanced or idealised.




5 Paintings – September Eigg Series

Below are five paintings which I began on Eigg on the 8th September (I’ve added a little information below each painting). This small series was part of a short trip to Eigg, to research ideas and to chat to people about the exhibition planned for next year at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in March.

They were painted in situ at Laig Bay on the west coast of Eigg, a beautiful day without rain. Later on it was slightly chilly so we lit a fire (some fire ash and sand was added here and there to the sketches!).


A herd of cattle grazed on the sand, looking slightly incongruous with the epic backdrop of the mountains of Rum behind, as was cello-playing by composer Atzi Muramatsu who accompanied me to the island – how often do you have a cello accompaniment at the beach?! (If funding goes ahead for next year’s project I’ll be able to commission Atzi and poet Jennifer L Williams to create new work in response to Eigg. You can read more about their work Here)

The paintings below are all available to buy as originals, or as prints so let me know if you’d like more information about them by emailing

You can read about the four day trip, walks across the island, meeting poets, artists, singers and geologists on these previous posts –

Day two on Eigg     Day three on Eigg      September Series 1

September Series 2    September Series 3

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 1' Ink and varnish on 5x5" wood

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 1’ Ink and varnish on 5×5″ wood. ‘No 1’. This is a sketch and colour wash of St Donan’s church in the vallery of Cleadale on the west coast of Eigg. It’s 100 years old and was recently refurbished. You can read more about the church  –Here

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 2' Ink and varnish on 5x5 wood"

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 2’ Ink and varnish on 5×5 wood”. This is a sketch and colour wash of ‘The Leader’, a sailing boat which recently re created the 1844 trip by geologist Hugh Miller on ‘The Betsey’. You can read more about the trip Here and on my previous posts (listed at the top of this post)

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 3' Ink and varnish on 5x5 wood"

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 3’ Ink and varnish on 5×5 wood”. A  sketch of Laig Bay with the mountains of Rum, one of Eigg’s most captivating views. (This small series of paintings was sketched at Laig Bay). You can read more about that Here

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 4' Ink and varnish on 5x5 wood"

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 4’ Ink and varnish on 5×5 wood”. Sketch and colour wash of ‘The Leader’, a sailing boat which recently re created the 1844 trip by geologist Hugh Miller on ‘The Betsey’. You can read more about the trip Here

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 5' Ink and varnish on 5x5 wood"

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 5’ Ink and varnish on 5×5 wood”. Slightly more detailed sketch and colour wash of ‘The Leader’, a sailing boat which recently re created the 1844 trip by geologist Hugh Miller on ‘The Betsey’. You can read more about the trip Here

September Eigg Series 3


Today’s sketch is of the lovely sailing boat called The Leader which sailed around Eigg while I was there. To be more accurate (I’m no boat expert) it’s described on the website as a gaff-rigged ketch – built in Brixham, Devon in 1892.

Apologies for the delay in posting this blog. I’d aimed to post every day but events have a way of taking over don’t they?!

At the moment I’m applying for crowd funding from Ideas Tap for next year’s Eigg exhibition and awaiting results from my application to Creative Scotland, but like everyone else in Scotland I’m also steeped in referendum news. It’s getting quite fraught in the run up before the Scottish referendum results on Friday, and all social media is teeming with posts, campaigns and opinions.

I’ll be attending a referendum results party as part of an exhibition at Edinburgh University’s Talbot Rice gallery, where a mix of yes and no voters will watch results between 11pm to 6am, at which time. Depending on the result, 12 confetti guns will explode, or not!

It’s called ‘After the revolution, who will clear up the mess’. And I think it’s a great way to be with fellow voters, whether they’re yes or no, so we can all give each other a hug on Friday morning. It’s going to be emotional, I can tell!

I think I can date my decision to vote Yes to independence from April this year, when I visited Eigg and saw for myself how autonomy benefits communities. Without this, Eigg would never be in the position it’s in now, with young people moving back to the island because there are more opportunities, and the 24 hour renewable energy system. Previous to the community buy-out in 1998, the community of Eigg wouldn’t have had decision-making powers on energy, or jobs or houses. (You can read about how it happened Here )


This September visit to Eigg was very illuminating as there were more events and people to meet. Chatting to people there I learned that there are plans to fund a documentary about the island, but previous filmmakers have wanted to somewhat romantically portray this as wild island with indigenous Scots working away in candle-lit bothys! But the reality is an island of Scottish, English and people from other countries who want to see progression, whilst also protecting their way of life and landscape. It’s no doubt complicated at times, but ultimately collaborative because the islanders are equal to one another in terms of ownership of the island.

4875414608_e08d71fc0e_b eigg-wind-turbines-with-sgurr-in-background-2

I’ll be working on more paintings over the next few weeks, and updating on news about next year’s exhibition at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. In the meantime, here are a few more photos from my recent trip..

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September Eigg Series 2

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 1' Ink and varnish on 5x5" wood

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 1’ Ink and varnish on 5×5″ wood

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 3' Ink and varnish on 5x5"

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 3’ Ink and varnish on 5×5″

Two paintings in ink – a church in Cleadale and Laig Bay with the mountains of Rum.

The sea has always been a huge inspiration for music and song around the world – symbolic as it is of connections, arriving and leave-taking, danger and sustenance. I’ve always enjoyed hearing Gaelic songs about the sea because to me the sound of Gaelic has an elemental quality that’s enhanced through song.

As mentioned in yesterday’s Eigg blog my trip to Eigg happened to coincide with a re-creation of geologist Hugh Miller’s trip around the isles on a ship called the Betsey. The crew on the recreated version includes geologists, artists, scientists and musicians, who decided to hold a traditional ceilidh last Tuesday at the Glebe Barn on Eigg (a yoga retreat situated near the Pier Bay). I went along to listen to poetry readings by founder of the Scottish Centre of Geopoetics  Norman Bissell and story-telling by the wonderful Essie Stewart. I also enjoyed a beautiful rendition of a Gaelic song about seals by Kate Langhorne; a 25 year old graduate of Anthropology and Gaelic studies from Glasgow.

All this under Tuesday’s beautiful full moon! Luckily, despite several glasses of wine, I had the sense to record both the song and the moonlight! (Kate has promised to send the lyrics for the song on her return to Glasgow):

A curious seal spotted on the north coast of Eigg..


And I defy anyone not to feel awestruck by the sight of a real, live Minke Whale emerging from the deep sea. This was on my return ferry journey. Absolutely stunning. The ferry stopped so we could all watch the whale, meaning I caught my train with just seconds to spare, absolutely worth the hectic rush!





September Eigg Series

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 2' Ink and varnish on 5x5"

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 2’ Ink and varnish on 5×5″

'September  2014 Eigg Series. No. 4' Ink and varnish on 5x5"

‘September 2014 Eigg Series. No. 4’ Ink and varnish on 5×5″

I’m back in Edinburgh now, missing the fresh air and various happenings on Eigg. As mentioned in previous blogs (Day Two and Day Three on Eigg)  it was somewhat tricky uploading and blogging from my phone with an intermittent connection, but I also really felt I couldn’t do justice to my trip. It’s been a fascinating and stimulating time – there was very much a sense of contrast with my earlier trip in April – more people, more vegetation, much more going on..

I’ll be posting more paintings in the next few days, also some lovely footage of Gaelic singing by moonlight, among other videos.

The two paintings above were made in Laig Bay on Monday. A slightly surreal day, with a herd of cattle roaming the beach against the backdrop of the mountains of Rum, also Atzi Muramatsu playing cello. It got slightly windy so I built a fire, which all added to the idyllic outdoor studio setting. I was painting in black ink and have never in all my time as an artist managed to do so without the resulting black ink drenched hands! Afterwards we dropped in to say hello to Lucy Conway after our creative beach session (Lucy runs Eigg Box, which I wrote about in my April Eigg blog Painting No. 5 )

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The sketches/paintings above are of a ship called the Leader which is cruising around the inner Hebrides with geologists, writers artists and musicians on board. The trip re-creates the journey made by geologist Hugh Miller in the summer of 1844. Among other things Hugh Miller discovered the bones of a Plesiosaurs on the north coast of Eigg.

I had no idea this fascinating historical journey coincided with my trip, and I discovered more when we were invited on to the geology day trip around the island on Sunday. Eigg is a truly extraordinary island from a geologist’s perspective, well, from any perspective, and our Sunday walk was enhanced with stories by Prof John Hudson, an expert on the geology of the small isles , also stories about past inhabitants by local historian Camille Dressler (interviewed in April’s Eigg blog in ‘Paintings No. 38 and 39’ )

As John Hudson mentioned during the geology trip on Sunday – Eigg’s landscape changes radically, evoking epic Norse sagas, when you climb out of Cleadale and over into the north end of Eigg.

In the photos below you can see the dramatic change from the gentle valley and sandy beaches of Cleadale to the dramatic rocky coastlines of the North end of Eigg…


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Day 3 on Eigg


My apologies for no blog yesterday, the logistics of blogging from my phone in a candlelit yurt with intermittent connection somewhat flummoxed me!

But yesterday was an amazing day – on laig beach painting with an open fire and bottle of wine in the sunshine, pretty idyllic ! Atzi wrote and played some music, and I took several vids.

As you can see I produced a few paintings but I’d like to do a bit more work on them when I’m back home.

As it’s a bit tricky to say the least uploading everything, I’m going to wait till I return to Edinburgh on Thursday, and in the meantime here are some neighbours..!


Day 2 on Eigg


It’s been a busy time on Eigg so far, with a music session last night at the pier bar, then today a geology tra
il around the north end of the island led by Prof John Hudson, no time to paint!

Tomorrow the plan is to spend a day on Singing sands beach, where  I’ll draw while Atsi plays cello (yes he has indeed brought his cello along!) So tomorrow we’ll see what’s produced from our singing sands bay workshop..

The weather has been beautiful, just wish I was here longer!


Above; Camille Dressler offers us water from a fresh spring


Cliffs of Cleadale