Thursday, 22 September 2016

North East Open Studios

Before we came south, we spent a lovely day last week visiting our selection from the more than 200 artists from north east Scotland exhibiting in this year's North East Open Studios (NEOS). We restricted ourselves to those local to Banchory and the lower Deeside valley near where we were staying and mostly to those focusing on textiles, print making and ceramics with a basket maker and silversmith thrown in for good measure. As well as the lovely work we saw, we had the great pleasure of talking to the artists and makers about their work. All gave freely and most enthusiastically of their time. It was an excellent day!

Generally though, I was too busy looking and talking to take many photos so I'm sorry to say I have only a small and rather random selection of things seen and of pieces bought.


First of all, we visited the studio at Heckleburn, home of ceramicist Hilary Duncan and base of the group of artists and makers, Heckleburn Quines, The studio was in itself a delight. It was reached up a long winding road through pine and birch woods and was light and airy and bathed in warm autumn sunshine. Courses are occasionally offered here at the studio and I hope to time a visit here next year to coincide with one.

After much browsing through the gallery, I bought one of Hilary Duncan's lovely little jugs, chosen for its simplicity and gentle colour but I could have bought one of a number of other pieces. I also particularly enjoyed her sets of small cylinders (glaze and surface decoration samples?) each with its own unique and most appealing abstract design. These tiny works of art were arranged throughout the exhibition space on shelves, in cabinets and in small groups. 


Next to tempt me was a wicker basket created by maker Helen Jackson. I was taken immediately by the simple tapering shape and the beautifully proportioned leather handle. It was irresistible and was my second purchase of the day, although I have yet to decide what it will hold when I get home. Maybe it will be nothing - it's an object for visual pleasure, after all.


Also showing at Heckleburn was work by textile artist Sarah Pooley. Her machine embroideries and lampshades were beautiful and I was again sorely tempted. However, for now, I didn't buy but include a photo of a piece called 'Machair'. Her work was mostly behind glass and my photos in general were disappointing (as is this one) but the conversation we shared was a great pleasure.  

        
 
Next, we went to the Milton Gallery in Crathes, a venue we have visited many times before. We particularly enjoyed the large, almost life size bronze of a girl reading by Ana Ladd ... sadly rather out of our price range!


After a very pleasant light lunch in the restaurant at the Milton Brasserie (and a particularly enjoyable lemon cheesecake!) we then returned to Banchory to see a lovely exhibition of wood block prints by Woodend Engravers. This was a group of makers of very varied experience who clearly helped and encouraged each other and their enthusiasm for their craft was a delight. I bought a selection of small cards printed with some designs I particularly liked, but I seem to have misplaced them and there is no images to be found on the internet. If I find mine next week in a particularly necessary clear up of my work space, I will add them.

Our final stopping place on that day was at the Old Post Office at Bridge of Canny in Inchmarlo. Here we found Beverley Hutton Moore showing her lovely silverware in her small studio. I took no photographs but I include one of two small silver bowls taken from her website, even though the quality is not good.


The next day, we took a trip out to Glen Buchat on Donside in a lovely isolated valley with a rich community of artists. We had visited this venue before during NEOS and felt we should return. We especially enjoyed a series of enamels on copper by Shelagh Boyle entitled Winterfields. I was fascinated by the graphic quality of the images she had created - and of course by the preference for black and white.  
  

All in all, we have had a wonderful summer with much quality time spent with family but now it's definitely time to settle back into our usual home routine. I feel more than usually starved of an outlet for my creative energies and will be pleased to find my way back. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Drawing in a car park

Here are the results of fun on my iPad manipulating a quick drawing of a group of trees made while waiting for my husband to finish a round of golf. I'm still experimenting with possibilities so this time I used a combination of the built in iPad photo software and the PS Express ap.

                         
       

                           
         
I inverted colour, reversed the image, cropped and added a bevel. There's still much to learn but this little challenge shows what can develop from 5 minutes waiting an a car park!


Monday, 5 September 2016

Art at Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire

Whilst Aberdeen Art Gallery is closed for a major rebuild and refurbishment, samples of its extensive collection can be seen in various local venues. We love the gallery and usually have it on our list for a visit when we are up here in this part of Scotland so we'd were delighted to find one of the small exhibitions so close at hand in the National Trust for Scotland's Drum Castle just east of Banchory.

We spent a very pleasant day there yesterday renewing our acquaintance with Drum and viewing the exhibition. Although small, the latter was beautifully curated and offered an excellent range of works, many of which I had not seen before. It ranged from installations and abstract works to formal portraiture and traditional landscapes.

Photography was not encouraged and anyway would have been difficult as most works were behind glass so I have only the one piece to show, a large oil on canvas by Callum Innes.

       

I viewed this beautiful minimalist canvas with great pleasure. Despite being a Turner Prize nominee in 1995 and a former Jerwood Painting Prize winner, Callum Innes' work was new to me and I was fascinated by the technique he had used for this work. It was described in the accompanying citation as being created in a process of 'unpainting'. This began with 'a minimalist canvas painted in one colour [from which] paint is removed with washes of turpentine'. I found the result most satisfying and I stood for a long time absorbing its stillness.

Other works that have especially stayed in the mind include a large oil painting from the Catterline series by Joan Eardley, an atmospheric still life by John Peploe and a lovely delicate Turner watercolour.

There was much to enjoy and I very much hope that this policy here at Drum of sharing work from the Gallery's collection will continue when the main gallery reopens in Aberdeen next year.


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Random glimpses of the Dee Valley, Aberdeenshire

We have had the great pleasure of meeting up with all the family in Scotland for a brief stay this summer. We visited favourite family haunts and found new ones, we photographed random things that amused us and we collected treasured memories. What else are family holidays for?

                                  
                                                    Climbing up the Burn O'Vat waterfall
   
                                  
               A moment of quiet contemplation for one of the family (Why could I never do that?)
       
               Grouped across the water in Glen Tanar - bracing themselves for the cold swim back?
       
                                    Building bridges (something else I can't do - though I could once)
       
                                                                 The steam train at Crathes

                                       
       
                                                              Two views of Loch Kinord

                                     
                                     And the tourist information booth in Kincardine O'Neil ...

                                     
          Yes really, complete with cupboard, a map and leaflets all fitted into an old red phone box!

Now it's September and soon it'll be back home for us all and to work and the start of school for some, but I know we'll be back.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Leaf patterns against a summer sky

The other day, for no particular reason, I was struck by the variety of leaf patterns on the trees in our garden, especially when seen from below against a clear summer sky. Perhaps it was because we haven't had many of those this year, or perhaps I just haven't had the time to sit and take casual notice.

I spent this afternoon amusing myself, converting the photos to black and white and upping the contrast levels in Adobe Photoshop. The most successful are posted here.






One of the trees is a delightful, late flowering tree, whose name I don't know. Even at this time of year, it has lovely acid green leaves and these large spikes of white flowers with pink centres. It is most definitely not a native tree and was planted around 40 years ago by the previous family to live in our house. If anyone can recognise it, I'd be delighted to know its name and where it comes from. 




Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Rouen and roofs and timber-framed buildings

On our way home from our recent holiday in Western France with our daughter and her family, we broke our journey overnight in Rouen in Normandy. We had previously stayed there briefly in the first year of our marriage more than 40 years ago and were surprised at how little we remembered.

We were therefore taken afresh with the wonderful old timber-framed buildings in the heart of the city and the many churches and irregular the roof scapes. We stayed in the delightful Hotel de La Cath├ędrale, and quirky and hospitable it was, and we ate an excellent dinner in a nearby auberge recommended by madame on the reception desk. It was all a great pleasure.

As we were there for such a short time, I took very few photographs. I hope these give just a hint of our short stay. Both were taken from our hotel bedroom window.



We there for only one night but we will certainly return.