A glimpse into my busy but rewarding month.
It began with the hanging and Private View of More British Birds – a great chance to catch up with lots of people and spend the weekend in Cumbria – we even managed a midnight owl walk, it was a beautifully clear night, we heard tawny owls but no sightings this time.
Not long after returning from Cumbria, I was setting off with Paul and Leo du Feu (friend and fellow artist) to Loch Ossian for three days hostelling. The train took us through amazing scenery with snow topped mountains and remote moorlands being the recurring theme of the journey. When we alighted at Corrour station, the sun was shining and the scenery was stunning. A short walk took us to Loch Ossian hostel – an unassuming building on the edge of the loch which was heated by a wood burning stove, the electricity provided by a wind turbine and composting toilets in a block away from the main building.
We had a great three days going on long walks and seeing all sorts of wildlife including gold crests flitting amongst tall pines, flocks of geese flying over, four ravens tumbling together, a pair of peregrine falcons dropping food to each other in the air, deer silhouetted across the skyline and excitingly a golden eagle soaring high above us and an exquisitely patterned black throated diver glancing shyly at us from the shore of the loch with its rusty red eye. I left with a raft of ideas for the studio which will no doubt emerge in my work over the next few months.
Despite the great wildlife the best I could do in terms of drawings were these male chaffinches which filled a tree next to the hostel as they waited there turn on the peanut feeder!
A day at home to do the washing and unpack and I was off again, this time to Newport on Tay to spend the day with my friend Sarah Gittins. Sarah is also an artist and makes beautifully controlled lino cuts and I had asked her if she would spend some time showing me how she does it. I love the quality of lino cuts and have long admired the work of artists like Edward Bawden, Robert Gillmor and Robert Tavener. My only memory of making lino cuts involved frustration at the cutting process so I was eager to get past that.
Sarah and I had a really fantastic day, sitting at her kitchen table carving away at our soft cut blocks. I was so inspired that I promptly ordered some equipment through the post and I spent a happy afternoon making prints in my kitchen with some exciting results.
After a week back at work (Leith School of Art) Paul and I were on the train again to Northumberland this time for a weekend of family birthdays. We spent a morning on Lindisfarne where we were very lucky to spot a short-eared owl hunting among the dunes.
And finally for the month of April, last weekend I was back in Cumbria to spend some time catching up with my folks and checking on the progress of the show. The squirrel and woodpecker were generous enough to visit the feeder outside the kitchen window while I was there!