This has easily been one of the most memorable years of my life – in particular the inspiration of visits to Eigg and the Scottish Referendum.
The referendum was a political awakening for many thousands of people here in Scotland. For me it went hand-in-hand with my experience of Eigg – an island which brought about its own independence as a community, then went on to create an award-winning renewable energy system. (I’ll be posting early in 2015 about the up-coming Eigg exhibition to be held at Edinburgh’s Scottish Storytelling Centre)
I was inspired to learn more about Scotland’s landscape, environment and political history, I spoke to many people, researched and read books such as Lesley Riddoch’s ‘Blossom’ and Andy Wightman’s ‘The Poor Had No Lawyers’, both of which opened my eyes to the changes that are needed for Scotland’s landscape and communities to thrive.
My experiences this year have been a reminder of how art at its best opens our world; it’s not about prestige, money, recognition or any of those things, it’s a way to connect with other people, where we live and make meaning of our lives.
I feel very grateful for the people I’ve met on my creative adventures this year, on Eigg and in Edinburgh, and most of all the great friends who’ve shared it with me – especially Donald Ferguson, Jennifer L Williams, Atzi Muramatsu and Alicia Devine.
(You can view my paintings and blog posts from the project on this link Here )
A week or so ago I went along to an exhibition held by Richard Demarco at Edinburgh’s Summer Hall Arts Centre. Richard Demarco (now in his early 80s) is the Director of the Demarco European Art Foundation, which exists to promote artistic dialogue between European countries, it has fostered numerous creative connections with war-torn countries over the decades. (I worked with the Foundation from 1999 to 2000 and have kept in touch over the years).
One of the central themes of Demarco’s life has been ‘The Road to Meikle Seggie’, a concept inspired by creative journey he began in the rural landscape of Fife in the early 70s with artists, poets and creative thinkers. They spotted a sign saying ‘Meikle Seggie’ but there seemed to be no place corresponding to the name!
Meikle Seggie then became a metaphor for the creative journey; it has no end, no particular goal, it’s about a journey made with imagination, an organic journey if you like, on which if we keep our eyes and hearts open, we make meaningful creative connections with our world and with other people.
I can’t put it better than Richard Demarco in his new book ‘The Road to Meikle Seggie’:
The supreme reason and impulse of any journeying is inevitably for us to see, perhaps for the first time, the extraordinary aspects of life which we had begun to call ordinary and take for granted. The land we must traverse is full of the markers and guide posts left behind by those who recognised this truth and traveled before us.
Which was why it was very moving for me to share my news of visiting Eigg with Richard at that exhibition a few weeks ago, and to hear that it had been part of his journey too.
In January 2015 I’ll begin to create a new series of paintings of Eigg which will express my experiences of the past year and what it has meant to me. The exhibition will launch at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the 26th March and will include (among other work) poetry by Jennifer L Williams and music by composer Atzi Muramatsu.
I look forward to adding my story to all those stories that have been and are still to come. Wishing you love, inspiration, peace and success on all your journeys in 2015!