Shetland inspiration: from brochs to castles
I feel incredibly lucky that my home – the place I grew up in and have chosen to live – also serves as the source of most of my inspiration.
Shetland is a beautiful place and the light can be spectacular, but as well as that, it has some fascinating archaeology. As I wrote about in my last post, Shetland’s brochs have inspired me to create work which has been very popular, so it only seems logical that I should use another of Shetland’s landmarks as inspiration. Next up to discuss is castles!
I’ve used Scalloway castle in my work – my studio looks directly down on the castle, over Scalloway and out towards the islands of Papa and Oxna. [Obviously change that if that’s not right – I had a google and guess! ] We’re lucky to have an incredible view.
Built in 1600, the castle is very well preserved and looks fantastic from all four sides. It makes for a great place to visit, as you can explore the inside too.
Scalloway castle is very well known, and is photographed and visited by thousands of people annually. However there is another castle in Shetland which is every bit as amazing, but much less famous!
Muness Castle, in Unst was constructed at around the same time as Scalloway Castle. Though it is smaller it is very well preserved.
I was amazed to stumble on the castle when visiting Unst as I had never heard anything much about it! So I am very excited to feature Muness castle in future artwork. Watch this space!
Beachcombing – Evie, Orkney
Beachcombing is one of my favourite pastimes; you never know what you will find.
While on a beach combing trip to Orkney recently I decided to go to explore a new spot. I came across the beach of Evie, which is a large sandy beach.
It had a corrugated pattern in the sand and was very clean. At first glance, you would think there was nothing much there, but taking a closer look I noticed small shiny shells peeping through the sand.
Two hours later I was still there, addicted to collecting! I found one sought after groatie buckie. There were shells with shapes and colours I have never seen before, and all on a beach which looked unpromising. What a great afternoon. I will definitely use these finds when making future mosaic pieces of artwork.
So much of life today is designed to be disposable. As someone who regularly visits the coast and beaches, the evidence for this throwaway society is sadly often to see.
I feel it is really important to re-cycle where possible. I do this in my daily life and try to reduce the amount of waste we throw out, and its no different in my artwork.
In 2014 I won an environmental award for the garden I built, around our home, which is open to the public to visit. It has a strong theme of recycling, and I used various objects such as tyres, pallets, kerb stones, re-used slabs, plants from skips, net and wine bottles to create areas of interest.
I carry this through to my work, and am delighted to use discarded pieces off wood to paint in. I collect up bags of ‘firewood’ from a local company and discover off cuts of fantastic wood such as solid oak.
Even my work desk is reclaimed – it is actually an old door fixed to a small desk! It’s great and gives me a perfect large workspace. It would have made no sense to throw it out and spend hundreds of pounds on a new desk when it works perfectly.
Although lots of my work features repurposed items, my most well known re-cycled artwork is possibly my re-used scaffolding boards, which are simply large chunky planks of wood which get dumped periodically to comply with various health and safety rules. I re-use them, cut them up and paint onto the raw wood, which has an even more interesting texture when it is marked, chipped or gouged into. Surely a smooth canvas would be pretty boring in comparison.
Welcome to my blog page!
I’ve been busy, developing ideas and making,and it’s hard to believe how far I’ve come: from having no work shown to now having a website, selling my artwork online and in a few local locations – at Ninian, in Lerwick, and at the Hoswick Visitor Centre – and I’m exhibiting year round in a local cafe, The Olive Tree.
Some highlights include the Shetland Arts and Craft Fair in November. This was a big deal for me, because as well as being really enjoyable it was my first anniversary of selling my artwork!
In 2015 I decided to have a small stall and try out some of my ideas on the public. This was the first time I had ever shown any work, so to try and sell it as well was quite nerve wracking. However the response was great – I was really encouraged and haven’t stopped making since.
This year, I decided to try a bigger stall. at 5m x 3m. Building a stall this big and having the work to fill it was a challenge, but thankfully the risk paid off! The weekend was a huge success.
Thank you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s to more art in 2017!