Friday, 26 October 2012

A Loch Side Studio

Among the many things I love about this place are the artists I re-connect with every time I'm here, one of my favourite people is the artist Francis Fogg.
Francis lives with her husband in a magical house, that is almost lapped by the loch. Set into the hill beside the loch is her studio - crammed to the rafters with all the makings of her art. It is visually so exciting to be in this space. The reflected light from the water, the pieces of driftwood and beach combings make little cameos of still life everywhere you look. Nautical fabrics, chalky paints, ropes, strings, shells and pebbles all add to the maritime theme that inspires her work.
Francis works in paint, paper, print, textile and driftwood montage and makes haunting imagery that instantly conjure up the West coast and Islands of the Highlands . My visit today was brief but plans were laid for working together in December when I'm next here.
Something to really look forward to. 
It snowed very gently on and off this morning until a fierce wind built up and drove the temperature down so low it bit into your skin, later the sun came out and felt warm through the window so we took the dogs for their usual run and then it hailed with a fury. We all ran back to the warmth of the Aga and I sat and made another bag to while the afternoon away before I went to visit Francis at tea time.
This is my last post from Ullapool for this trip. I hope the roads are clear for our long journey home on Sunday, I like adventures at the start of a trip not at the end. 


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A bit Dreich

You would think from my last few posts that the sun always shines here - this is lunchtime today. The secret is to treat each day the same but dress accordingly, so the dogs were walked in the rain and chill and I'm so glad we did, because we got quite close to some resting birds today.
Our birdbook identified them as Turnstones.

These are Oystercatchers, stirred into flight by the youngest dog.
The dull weather meant a project needed to be found for this afternoon
A new peg bag was needed in one of the letting cottages. I found some off cuts of the Liberty peacock fabric circa. 1963 that were the original curtains in the manse when my step daughter first came here some ten years ago. I had converted these to french blinds and tucked away the odd bits and pieces left from that project. I also found some Harris tweed from cushion covers I had made for here a couple of years ago. I couldn't resist letting the Liberty logo from the selvedge be a part of the design. I hope some of the future guests will recognise that iconic fabric from the days of our youth.  




Sunday, 21 October 2012

Achmelvic Dreaming

Leaving Ullapool to go north  this morning I just had to capture this view as we were leaving. Looking out to the Minches and the Summer Isles - so different to the last photo I took of the same view a few days ago.
Destination Achmelvic Beach, anyone who knows me or follows my blog will have heard of my love affair with this remote part of Wester Ross. A demanding journey that takes you down eventually to this.

A white sandy beach lapped by turquoise seas, backed by  the machair of Asssynt a very special piece of our country. Spring time means the land is covered with alpine wild flowers, especially adapted to this wild landscape. Anytime of the year the beach looks like it has been untouched and unchanged by time - until you look towards the land - a worrying number of caravans seem to be proliferating. I only hope that the harshness of the climate here for at least seven months of the year keeps it as remote and untouched as it has been for the last ten years that I have known it.

My first stop is always the rangers hut to sea what has been washed up and what wild life has been spotted, followed by a mad dash over the dunes to the beach.
Even Tarka the old dog couldn't resist the lure of the water today and at 18c I couldn't blame her. The water however feels like ice-melt from the pole.

The journey home was marked by wonderful skies that just filled me with joy ( cloud gazing being another past-time).

When we got back to Ullapool we sat in the garden enjoying the last rays of a balmy autumn afternoon.
Our days are so lovely here and filled with places to go and things to do so that by evening I am content to sit and sew or draw, in a very relaxed kind of way. I want to get this cushion front finished for my next Trident meeting, I think it will be done within a couple of days, and then I can think of quilting it and making it up.
 I must show you this fabulous boiled wool scarf I bought at from a very chic little shop in Ullapool. It was made in Kashmir and sourced by the shop owner Polly Hoad who has an enviable eye for very arty, desirable clothes and jewellery.

Note to self - that is definitely my last indulgent purchase of this holiday!



Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Cromarty Calling

One of the things I really look forward to when we come to the Highlands is the day we spend at Cromarty.The journey takes you from the west coast to the east and is a 140 mile round trip. Nothing is a quick jaunt in this area but the scenery ensures that the journey never palls. There are all sorts of things that draw us here, the light, the architecture, the waterfowl reserve, the walk around the point to name but a few. 
 For most people of my age our first introduction to this place would have been the shipping forecast at 6 o'clock (marking bedtime) broadcast on the radio in the fifties. Fortrose and Cromarty among others were just evocative names that formed the soundtrack to our childhoods.
The journey this morning started with scraping the ice off the car and the temperature remained at freezing until we got into Cromarty by mid morning. Our first port of call was Gardiner and Gardiner ( just google it - lovely website!) our favourite antique/curio shop. A roaring fire greeted us and coffee was made and the most knowledgeable and friendly owner - Helen Gardiner as always, made us feel really welcome. This shop is my kind of paradise she has such an eye for the unusual and desirable. I came away with my usual small haul of goodies.

Scraps of old fabrics, traycloths of the finest linen and a stamp that will fit into my timepiece theme beautifully. It is an aluminium block advertising Ingersoll clocks and watches - in old money. Definitely my best 'find'. Amongst the more serious antiques there are piles of linens to tempt, and fragments of ancient tapestries and tarnished gold fringing. Some gorgeous original copper etched stamps depicting  intricate ironwork gates for grand residences caught my eye as did a tapestry seat cover (Aubusson) that showed the most fascinating workings on the back. Helen offered it to me at what I thought was a very reasonable price but alas budget had already been blown at James Hawkins studio last week.
I came away feeling very pleased with my find and can't wait to start some work around this stamp.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Looking out to the Summer Isles

That was yesterday, a heavenly day spent in Lochinver with John  and Dick Lindsay. I seemed to be forever stopping to take photos - the light was really special.
Today I felt the need to work into my sketchbook. Using my favoured Ullapool motif I made two print blocks with some sticky backed foam.
A positive and a negative. Then using the two or three colours I had with me I just started to print.
The first one is a bit bland, I have to warm up my colours.

Still not wonderful but I like where the dark edges give a little depth to this one.
I want something warmer but I only have lemon, ultramarine and white with me. I think I'll try a little colour manipulation in Picassa.

There now that hits the spot for me. I think my brain is reacting to all the blue light of the past few days. I suddenly want magenta or maybe a touch of orange.



Sunday, 14 October 2012

Melon Udrigle Sunday

Melon Udrigle beach is a Sunday destination for John and I and made even more fun by my daughter and son-in-laws's two black labradors, who we are baby sitting whilst their owners enjoy a well earned rest in Crete.

Tarka is an elderly lady who has been given a new lease on life by the arrival of Garth, a year old, full of life, young gun!
The light was incredibly intense and the temperature was freezing but it didn't stop the younger dog from chasing into the water after the waves.
After a bracing walk on the beach we take our usual track over the dunes to the 'sculpture gallery'.

You never know what will be there - today we were not disappointed.

There were two wonderful sharks? for our delight. Over the years we have seen giant crabs, dinosaurs, skeletons and figures all laid out to make up a wonderful outdoor art gallery.
The drive back takes an hour and a half  but the sensational scenery makes the journey fly by and we are soon home and warming up with wet dogs and a big pot of tea.
Some textile work is going on.

Cushion making is well under way, inspired by the wonderful fifties patterned remnants I found in Stamford just last week.




Friday, 12 October 2012

Rhue Point on a Dreich Day

Dreich:- Grey, cold, wet through to your bones.
Just a few miles north of Ullapool is a winding road leading to Rue point overlooking the entrance to Loch Broom. It looks out on to the Minches offering a sometimes stormy ferry route to the Western Isles. This is one of our favourite view points for watching the sea and the clouds and the changing light on the mountains over the loch. A few hardy souls have made their home on this point and one of them is the artist James Hawkins.
We visited his studio this morning and enjoyed some time discussing his work with him and looking at his epic canvases that just leap off the wall at you. I could talk about his work all day and gaze at it forever. A small problem was the £8000.00 plus price tags.
I don't usually buy prints but an exception had to be made. John chose 'The South Glen Shiel Ridge' for an early christmas present from me and I chose 'Loch Beinn Deirg Strathkanaird' from him to me (win, win).
When the weather sets in like it has been today the only thing to do is sit it out in as much comfort as possible. I've spent a gentle afternoon making cushions, a very domestic and grounding thing to do after the excitement of those wonderful paintings of this morning.
The Guild Exhibition will be drawing to a close this weekend and I still have a few pics. left to show.
Another accomplished piece from Linda Meacher 'Hydrangea' blackwork with raised wire flowers.

A charming 'Minahassa Barn Owl' from Lynne Zebedee. There is quite a bit of 'Kantha' work in this exhibition a very fashionable technique at the moment.

Diane Richardson has some very evocative work on show, this piece 'SE Vende Cortijo' is much more beautiful than my photo suggests, again it was a difficult one to capture.
Finally for today an appropriately named piece 'Autumn'

This is by Kay Hall and it just 'glows'.  



Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ullapool Thursday

Thursdays are a special day to me in Ullapool. It means my Son-in-law's father comes round to tea. Dick Lindsay is an artist second to none - he has his own unique way of translating the world he sees with thousands of tiny lines and dots that make up an almost photographic image of any scene or portrait he applies his mind to. This is his drawing of the house John and I are staying in at the moment. The angle looks strange because I have tilted the camera to take out the glare of the light bulb.
After the obligatory discussion on health and family news we talked about the theme for his next piece of work and the drives that motivate him to keep drawing. He confessed he may have peaked and that his line is a little more fragile this year. He is 93 years old - I think a little fragility is allowed.
As the afternoon passed sitting in the kitchen drinking tea and eating fruitcake we watched the Stornaway ferry come into the harbour as it does
 every afternoon give or take the odd storm.
 Never was the heat of the Aga more comforting as we watched the cloud roll down the mountain and stop about five feet above the loch. Highland rain has to be seen to be believed it darkens the world like an eclipse and just keeps going.
My Ullapool motif never deserts me, walking along the shoreline yesterday, gazing into the turquoise water at the jewel like pebbles and grit, getting tangled in the writhing heaps of kelp I return to the same imagery time and time again.

The mountains at the back of the lock are also a challenge to capture when the light keeps changing every minute.This collage of painted watercolour papers was done on a very bright and cold day last winter. The same mountains look like a forbidding monochromatic presence today.
I will return to the Guild Exhibition photo's in tomorrows blog.  




Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Walking on the Edge

It felt like walking on the edge a bit this afternoon. We took the two black Labs for a walk along the shoreline from the loch to the sea. It was bitterly cold but we were well wrapped up and the weak sun was trying to shine. When I looked at what we were doing here on the same day last year it was much the same thing but in shirt sleeves and light sweaters. A full fifteen degrees difference in temperature!
I'm thinking of the Guild exhibition going on for another week back in Peterborough and browsing through more images from the show.
This hanging; 'Flow' by Bev Mayo, really catches the eye especially placed next to this piece called 'Points and Curves' by Yvonne Wagstaff.
Both pieces are really strong on design and colour and although quite different 'sit' well together.

Another beautifully stitched piece of work by Linda Meacher who has several exquisitely embroidered pieces in the show. I love the complimentary colours she has chosen for this design.
Finally for today another gorgeous little Kingfisher by Kay Deplancke.

 Isn't he delightful? Birds have figured in several pieces this year, When they glow like this I can see why.


Monday, 8 October 2012

Ullapool Haven

After an unexciting (but welcome) night in Penrith Travellers Lodge we had a wonderful journey in crystal clear sunshine up through the Highlands to our beloved Ullapool today. Already we have been out and about to check that everything is just as we left it. Apart from a brand new Ferry Carpark all seems much the same thank goodness!
So back to the Guild exhibition - it was good to see so many people at the cupcake tea party yesterday I have to say  it all passed in a bit of a whirl for me as I knew I had a long journey ahead of me. Apologies if I seemed a bit more frazzled than usual to anyone, my organising skills come a bit harder to me these days.

This expertly worked, vibrant Kingfisher was embroidered by Christine Anderson. Another stitcher in our guild who's technique and knowledge inspires me.
Elaine Harburn has produced this very touching piece 'Er Zullen Altijd Wel Soldaten Zijn' (There will always be soldiers) I see a story behind this piece. It will need gazing at until it reveals itself to the onlooker.
I also loved the Mountmellick style Peter Pan collar that she has produced.
Elaine also has 'Four White Roses' done in Pulled Work, Richelieu, Needlelace and Mountmellick on display, showing technical skills that just have to be seen, I think the purity of the white makes a welcome resting point visually in amongst the coloured work surrounding it.
Finally for today - a piece by Biddy Bruce 'Landscape'.
I have heightened the colours a little to make up for the glare of the glass - which brings me back to where I am today. If I look out of the window it looks just like this (only a lot colder). More 'pics' tomorrow.