Heading Towards Lockdown
Mull, capricious, at times turbulent and always always changeable. This is an island of light and shade, of brilliance and foreboding often shifting between these extremes within minutes. It is a place that draws you in, holds you and tugs at you as you leave.
A few of the birds we caught up with
Winter in Norfolk brings vast skies and some great birds. I’ve visited the north Norfolk coast on a few occasions in the last year or so sometimes as part of bird race with friends (good company and good birding and if you’re up for a year list, gets you off to a flying start with well over a hundred species possible in a few days) and sometimes on my own.
After reading Adam Nicholson’s love letter to the Shiants, Sea Room, these islands had drawn me to them in a way that islands have a habit of doing. I’d caught sight of them from the Kylebrahn a couple of years ago as we sailed across the Minch from Skye to Lochmaddy. We were now in striking distance having spent some time exploring the area and peninsulas around Gairloch.
A more recent piece has seen us working with the idea of form emerging from space with the aesthetic of splitting the frame in two. ‘Out of focus’ becomes a relative concept in this work as in reality we are imaging the microscopic that is not visible to our sensitivities, thus acknowledging the curious and again relative notion of emptiness.
A very different experience to most of the islands I’ve been to was the trip to Coquet Island off the Northumberland Coast. It’s managed by the RSPB and landing is not permitted. Its lure is the Roseate Terns and of course Puffins.
The work in this post is perhaps less ‘abstract ‘(a concept that we will explore further in later posts and one that sits a little uncomfortably with me) than those in previous posts. The idea of working with Sue’s paintings as ‘backdrops’ (they are much more than this of course) whilst photographing the very plants and flowers that she had depicted in these paintings came about through a wish to begin to further explore the curious notion of space and the illusion that we all deal with in creating depth from a two dimensional surface.
The Farne Islands; a group of between 20 and 30 islands, how many depends on the state of the tide; one and a half to nearly five miles off the mainland; resistant igneous Dolerite; home to over 100,000 seabirds. I’d not visited them since childhood and had very mixed emotions after standing on them for the first time in over 50 years.
The wind had been up, it had rained for the last few days and we were not hopeful that our longed booked trip over to Bass Rock would go ahead.
An Island one mile off shore in the Firth of Forth and three miles from our departure point at North Berwick, Bass Rock is a place like no other I’ve ever been to.
I’ve been working on an new collaboration with painter and print-maker Sue Hunt for the last couple of years and we are now in a position to show some of this work and are also beginning to channel it to working within the health care sector in Wales, specifically, at the present, with Rookwood, a spinal and neurological rehabilitation centre.
Last week I spent four full days at WWT Slimbridge. I hit a decent spell of weather too, days of hard frosts and unbroken blue skies, a rarity this last few weeks when the shortening days have appeared to close in earlier due to successions of low pressure systems bringing heavy rain.Continue reading
The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is not an easy bird to see or photograph. I’ve been to quite a few locations over the years where they are known to breed (and it’s never easy to be 100% sure of that!) but never even caught sight of them. ‘A shy bird of the high canopy’ is often how bird books will describe them.
When Tom Kistruck, the RSPB warden at Ynys-hir, told me that the most recent count of the Greenland White-fronted Geese on the Dyfi estuary, not far from the town of Machynlleth, had grown from the eleven that had been reported before Christmas to thirteen, I had a feeling that the number might prove to be as unlucky as I’d been the previous couple of days. I’m not generally a superstitious person but at times like this you sort of begin to wonder.
A few days up around the Lakes saw us once again visiting Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin. Not only is it full of artwork from Ruskin and his contemporaries, along with all sorts of paraphernalia related to an incredibly eclectic life, but is spectacularly situated on the shores of Lake Coniston.
A trip up to the north coast of Scotland without a storm or two would not feel right whatever the time of year. We had cause to keep our pop up roof on the VW down on a few occasions on this trip and Gwenda was lifted off her feet during one very gusty walk out to the lighthouse at Strathy Point.
Handa is an island that simply tugs you back. It has it all; a wonderful evocative sense of loneliness (no Skomer hoards here – although it is still possible to get a quiet spot if you walk in the opposite direction to the Wick); a chance to get close to the ‘pirates’ of the bird world; archaeology and ancient history and a landscape of low coastal reefs to seriously imposing 100 metre Torridonian sandstone cliffs.Continue reading
This was a place we found by simply driving to the end of what was possible. We’d been down all the small roads off the road north from Kinlochbervie; Oldshoremore, Droman, the wonderful Bagh a’ Phollain.