Today was my last visit to Montrose in respect of my walking. I wanted to have a look at the air heritage museum at my walks end as it now opens during the summer months, and I was not disappointed. Kate, Ian and Tony, volunteers at the museum showed me around this remarkable piece of preservation. The collection is vast and eclectic, including a Sopworth Camel aircraft, a parachute silk wedding dress, an evacuee child’s suitcase , a radio that plays Glen Miller even though its internal workings are missing ?, an ejector seat and trench art from the first world war. In a vast hangar Tony works with a team building a B.E 2a WW1 plane. He showed me the inner workings, how the wings and the rudder move, before returning to quietly and slowly sewing the canvas onto the wings. The crew have built it entirely from a set of drawings. Ian, in a capacious wartime airforce overcoat and officers cap told stories about the base and the crews that flew from Montrose. He told about the night a Polish airman was visiting a girl in Bents Road when a German Heinkel bomber jettisoned a bomb that landed on the street. He went out,picked up the incendiary, put it in a barrow and wheeled it down to the beach where he blew it up with his Lee Enfield rifle. A brilliantly interesting, funny, and moving place to visit. My second plan was to find a location for the short film myself and a couple of friends are making for the show. It connects walking a line and meeting people, two central themes to my work. The film is called ‘Should we meet sometime’, and will play downstairs in the ropeworks. This building is incredibly long and narrow, disappearing into darkness at the far end. There is a wooden runway for the viewer to walk down, and as they do so they will see a small flickering film in the distance . I need a location with a long enough stretch of open space, and being one of those rare days when things come together, the old wartime airfield behind the museum has such a space – what deduction…
Back where I started, America Street.
The artist William Lamb had his studio along this close in Montrose. It is open in July and August to the public but Sue from the museum showed me around last week. A beautiful space that show his workrooms and his sculptures, paintings and hundreds of his drawings. A wonderful sense of the discipline of making and thinking about work and his connection to both the people and landscape.On the road there is a disabled parking bay. Lamb was wounded during the first world war,so much so that he could no longer use his right hand and had to retrain using his left hand.
In June 2011 I visited an uninhabited island in Orkney called Swona with a group of artists. We stayed for three days camping in a derelict farmhouse. There were several houses nearby and this particular dwelling was left as though the occupants had just got up to leave for a hour or so. Furniture and belongings exactly as they left them. This is one of my stories of things I found.
I am remembering the house again. The sea. Voices, cracked, whispered, dusting the table top. Motes of stories, floating, raining layer upon layer upon layer. Drawings of ships on the mantel, sailing north to the place of iron black rock. An accordion hangs, breath less. The bones of reeds, poking, knitting together the songs of a summer spent laughing, and tumbling and falling in the buttercups, their yellow staining your skin.
Waiting ships. Sun casting long shadows on the giant blue sheds. America Street. Leaving.
Mixed media on newsprint on ply. 30x20cm
Mixed media on Montrose Review. Debbie who works behind the counter has purple hair peeking out from under her hat. She comes from near Heathrow but now stays in Inverbervie.
Wheelie bin, Commerce Street, Montrose. Mixed media on newsprint.
Back from London where I visited my painting in the Mall Galleries at the RI society of watercolour painters annual exhibition. I stood behind a couple who were looking at my work and the woman waved her hands in front of her face and cried ‘Its nightmarish !’. I smiled and turned away. Nice to know I elicit such a strong response. Not sure she would like wheelie bins either. But I do. Greatly.