Monthly Archives: October 2015

Cockenzie Power Station: 2 Paintings

'Cockenzie Power Station, 26th September 2015'. Mixed media on 17x11" wood panel

‘Cockenzie Power Station, 26th September 2015’. Mixed media on 17×11″ wood panel

'Watchers (Cockenzie)'. Mixed media on 17x11" wood panel

‘Watchers (Cockenzie)’. Mixed media on 17×11″ wood panel

These are the two finished works in response to Cockenzie Power Station which was demolished at 12 noon on the 26th of September this year.

It was a coal fired power station launched in 1967, run by the nationalised Scottish electricity board then by privatised Scottish Power, classed as inefficient in 2013 then decomissioned.

People lined the east coast shores on the 26th to watch it come down, and luckily I got a call from a friend who was driving out there. I knew it would be a good photo opportunity but only decided to paint it later.

Watching my video afterwards, I realised I’d captured the sound of waves, as I was just a few feet away from the shore, and I liked the way the sounds of explosion along with ‘oohs’ and ‘aah’s from the crowd faded into peaceful, lapping waves.

This is my video of the event…

The towers, reflected in the water, then vanished, seemed like seismographic recorders. The waves like time-markers or markers of disruption, lapsing into peaceful silence. I wanted to reflect these ideas, and played around with effects on a wood panel until it felt right. I liked the way the reflection of the towers began to resemble a seismograph, which is why I made the towers appear less real, more like graph needles or markers of time.

Lastly here are a few photos of people watching on the shore or from the sea..

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Cockenzie Day 5

'Cockenzie Power Station, 26th September 2016'. Mixed media on 17x11" wood panel

‘Cockenzie Power Station, 26th September 2016’. Mixed media on 17×11″ wood panel

Today’s version of Cockenzie Power Station. I’m a bit more happy with this, but the light’s fading so it’s hard to tell. Tomorrow’s the last day I have time to paint for a while, so I think it’s almost there, it had better be!

I was sorry to miss the Demarco European Art Foundation’s exhibition of Romanian Artists yesterday. Romania commemorates the holocaust on the 8th October and yesterday was the preview evening of the Romanian artists Richard Demarco has worked with over the decades.

The exhibition is still on at Summerhall in Edinburgh, so drop in if you’re nearby. I hope to see it in the next few days. There is sure to be fascinating work there, often by artists responding to Romania’s often troubled history from past to present, including Neagu, Horia Bernea and Ion Bitan. It’s an inspiration to see the Demarco Foundation’s continuing committment to presenting the work of artists across Europe.

You can view more info about the exhibition Here

Yesterday was also my mum’s birthday and the day an asteroid ‘SKIMMED’ (Daily Express 🙂 ) past the earth at 45, 000 miles ph, missing us by a mere 25 million miles!

Cockenzie Day 4

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I’m playing around with this painting in an experimental way, somewhere in the process I’ll maybe wipe out the whole thing and start again. I quite like the layered look and texture this gives to a finished painting, and it echoes the themes I’m exploring of impermanency, which is a shorthand for concepts I’m exploring instinctively rather than intellectually at the moment. I’ll know when the mood feels right.

On the subject of impermanency, I’ve noticed in the past few years is that less people are buying paintings, this is echoed by the chats I’ve had with artists and gallery owners recently, so I know it’s not just down to my paintings as such! With working tax credit cuts coming up at the start of 2016 a lot of artists are facing tough times ahead. Unless they’re famous, most artists have a part-time job to supplement their income, which is on average about £8,000 £10,000 per year. Apparently the minimum wage will rise to £9. Don’t spend it all at once folks!

Artists are obviously just one small group facing difficulties, and I share the anger of millions in the UK just now, at the increasingly grim implications for everyone on a low income, unemployed, struggling families, pensioners whose fuel allowance is about to be cut, people with illnesses or disabilities or young people struggling to envisage a hopeful future where they might fulfil their potential.

Out of interest though, this article compares other country’s attitude to the arts –

And here’s a report on the survey about UK artist income carried out by DACS

I’ve been lucky enough to get the odd curatorial job in the arts and health field in the past, but let’s face it the NHS won’t be splurging on arts projects in the coming years. I’m not complaining on a personal level, I don’t have kids or huge responsibilities, I’m just adjusting to the current economic fantasy as presented by the tory government, more fantastical by far than my paintings, less permanent than Cockenzie Power Station given it stood there so long, the point being that things change, and there’s always hope.

I’m left to ponder in bemusement at those people who believe tory spin about being frugal with the economy, as though it’s comparable to a household budget. God knows I’m no expert on economy, my seven or so years of education (which I paid for with loans and by working as a flower picker and part-time cleaner lest anyone assumes I’m a pampered arty type!) was in the arts, but I can at least understand the concept that investing nothing, and taking more and more, not just from those on benefits, but from ordinary working people, means people spend less.

How many houses, services, clothes, or paintings, for example, can a super rich person buy?! We know that 40% of the UK are on some form of benefits now, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that what’s left of the business owning middle classes, not to mention those facing cuts in public services will be really feeling it soon. Bye bye arts career, not that I’d ever stop painting…

In the meantime, if you’ve read this so far, you might welcome some tranquility in the form of a few works by some of my favourite painters, I’ve been gazing on some of these today, most inspiring..




Day Two

P1280715It’s a week since I started these, but things have been busy and I’ve had a tummy bug so there was just an hour or so to begin the second of the Cockenzie paintings, this one with boats lining the horizon and the strange east coast overcast tones. Hopefully I’ll find time to finish these before the deadline next week, but starting a new part-time job makes it tricky. I haven’t missed a deadline since my carefree student days, but that can change, ah well!

Cockenzie paintings

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Starting to experiment with the Cockenzie paintings, marking into wet gesso/marble dust. I’m going to wait for this to dry and scratch into dry paint then scrape back some of the edges. I’m really enjoying the subtle greys and minimal work, so I’m going to keep these very simple.


I’m also working on a River Tweed painting for my mum’s upcoming birthday. Again scratching into paint, this time green/black to white below, though at this stage I’m just marking it out. The figures, which are a bit vague at the moment, are my niece and her friends swimming; this was just after they’d all finished their exams and were in relaxed celebratory mood! This painting will take a lot more work – lots of detail and layers of varnish to get the lovely deep reflections on water…




New works

P1280696I’m just laying down the base colour on these 17×11 inch wood panels for two new paintings I’m creating, inspired by the moody seascapes and atmosphere of the east coast. I watched Cockenzie Power station being demolished last weekend and I wanted to express ideas of change and impermanency.

The dark background is because I’ll be layering over subtle mid-grey tones mixed with gesso and marble dust, then scratching through the top layer to create forms and lines. At least, that’s the plan! Things always change in process.

These should be finished by the end of next week, then I’ll be submitting them for the RSA in Edinburgh