Monthly Archives: September 2016

Hebrides 8

'View from Achnahaird Sand Dune'. Mixed media on 8x8" wood

‘View from Achnahaird Sand Dune’. Mixed media on 8×8″ wood

'Liceasto, Harris'. Mixed media on 10x10" wood

‘Liceasto, Harris’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood

Today’s paintings – ‘View from Achnahaird Sand Dune’ and a bit more work on ‘Liceasto, Harris’.

The first was much improved with a little time in a hot oven to create ap1120120 crackle effect..




Maps showing Liceasto on Harris, and Achnahaird on the Coigach coast…


bigger-map liceasto






map achnahaird

Hebrides day 6

p1120066A few rough experiments today, of the Harris landscape.

p1120088 p1120086





p1120074 p1120071





I’m thinking that this subject lends itself to etching though it’s been years since I experimented with that process (image below – my first etching from art college days). I’ll enroll myself on a few classes at Edinburgh’s excellent Printmaker’s Workshop to brush up my skills.




Also, Louise and I were very drawn to the quality of light against rusts and blacks of the landscape, so I might etch on a copper plate, then once I’ve printed from them I’ll use the original plates as part of sculptural works. These might work for the proposal for a funding opportunity that’s come up (organised by An Lanntair, contemporary gallery in Stornaway and Glasgow School of Art) which we’ll apply for alongside various other funding opportunities.

Soon I’ll post some of Louise’s poems. I’ve read one already and it’s beautiful, it seems to glow with colours and atmosphere of the Lewis and Harris landscape.

I’m also working on a small series of our visit to Achiltibuie, but in the meantime I’m awaiting delivery of some lovely new paints to play with!

Hebrides day 5

p1110653Back home in Edinburgh after an incredible week in the West Highlands and Hebrides – a journey which took us through Achiltibuie then the isles of Lewis, Harris and Skye.

I’ll continue this series of blog posts under the general title of ‘Hebrides – day 6’ etc, until we decide on a title for our project (a collaboration between myself, poet Louise Palfreyman and cellist/compser Atzi Muramatsu).

It’s in early stages at the moment, but we hope to raise funds for a longer stay in the Hebrides, on Lewis and Harris particularly.

Louise and I p1110350will continue to work closely, sharinguntitled ideas as we develop paintings and poems began on our journey, which we’ll blog and share every week or so with a round up of the work produced as we go.

Today I’ve been sifting through the hundreds of photos, sketches and videos from our journey. Looking through photos of Harris confirms what we felt while staying there – it’s a magical place (which I managed to blog about despite the frustrating on/off internet connection! Link to post Here)


I described it as ‘Marshwiggle territory’ which may have flummoxed those unfamiliar with the Narnia Chronicles, for whom I include this excellent illustration on the right, by Pauline Baynes.


More photos of Harris..


I’ll also be editing a video this week which will hopefully capture the magic and inspiration of our trip, also our paintings, poems and music.

As mentioned in my blog post about Lewis and Harris, we met with poet Ian Stephen in Stornaway last week. One of the poems he recited for us came to mind today while I thought of the silvery moonscape vistas of Harris, with red berries of rowan trees growing alongside its sea lochs.

Ian’s poem echoes the gentleness we felt there, the sense that you can open heart and imagination to the atmosphere…

Should we plant a rowan here

at the sea-loch side?

The seed of red berriesfor-all-of-us

for imagination,

to germinate

in this day

when leaves mould

and stars die


A hawthorn for healing,

spur and leaf balm.

Rooting for

the pair of us

and for us all.









Hebrides – day 3 & 4























Patchy internet, hence intermittent blog posts again.

I’ll catch up on all our events on return to Edinburgh, but suffice to say the creative energy is growing apace, especially through conversations with Louise (Louise Palfreyman, poet and writer I’m collaborating with on this project). This is our second day on Skye, near Talisker Bay. We’re mutually enthusing on our surroundings – colours, light, water, peat, stones and stories…


I’ll be putting together a video of our paintings, poetry,recordings and writings and so on, in the next week or so.

In the meantime, a couple of sketches from yesterday, above, and today on and around Talisker Bay…



Hebrides – day 2 & 3


Lickisto moonscape

















No internet signal yesterday, hence no blog post!

Louise and I  stayed overnight in Lickisto (north of Tarbert2016-09-20-18-17-46 on the Isle of Harris)  an extraordinary moonscape-like coastline (which our host told us was the setting for ‘2000 A Space Odyssey’) an otherwordly, peaty landscape carpeted in spongy sphagnum moss, strewn with ‘incidentals’ – boulders randomly dispersed thousands of years ago as glaciers melted and receded.

Our yurt was one of several dotted amongst the2016-09-20-18-18-28 marshland rushes, each having a little stove with smoke drifting into the low clouds. I was reminded of marshwiggle country, the feel of utter peace and remoteness. Utterly magical.

This followed on from our meeting in Stornaway earlier in the day with Ian Stephen (poet from Lewis).  We talked about the roots and links of stories and myths, from the Hebrides  and across Scandinavia.

2016-09-19-17-10-56We were inspired and heart warmed by the conversation – it’s been a few years since I last saw Ian (we were working on a live art project called Transitstation, which originated in Berlin).

Ian is also a navigator who has sailed the north seas alongside artists, musicians and fellow poets. Louise and I were delighted to record a few poetry recitals (limited technology means I’ll have to await my return to Edinburgh to pist these).

After this we dropped into An Lanntair to chat to2016-09-20-18-21-10 Ellie Fletcher about potential exhibitions and projects.

We found time to stop at the stones of Callanish on Lewis yesterday before driving down to Harris. Beautful, slender columns of Lewisian gneiss – they have an incredibly graceful presence.


I began to draw parallels between the layers of gneiss deep beneath layers of peat, laid down over thousands of years, and the layers of stories we spoke about with Ian, their origins buried in time and conciousness, emerging in fragments that tease us with partially lost meaning; it’s probably the unknown element that so charms our imagination.


Hebrides Day 1

20160918_182245Leaving Ullapool today with author and poet Louise Palfreyman, on our way to Stornaway. Beautiful changing light – silver reflections in Ullapool harbour, gold-lit islands as we sailed out.




We’re exploring Lewis, Harris and Skye over the next week sketching, painting, writing and filming as part of our collaborative  project this year. Tomorrow we’ll explore the standing stones of Callanish. 

We also met Lewis poet Ian Stephen on the ferry, I haven’t seen him for about ten years – we’re droppibg in to say hello in the morning so more about Ian tomorrow.

Lastly a quick sketch of Louise snoozing on the ferry!