Ian and Gillian in conversation –
‘Two but very late.’
‘See the head on this one, see its vertebrae ?’
‘What colour’s she got on her arse?’
‘Green, touch of red.’
‘Green, first colour ? No she’s definitely a red arse.’
‘Sheep are different every year…..oh here we go, its so small it’s difficult to count. I think it’s just one, but she’s lost another one. The grass will be growing when she lambs.’
‘Right, thats looks like three.’
‘I told you about the one we had one year when she lambed, two beautiful lambs and I thought these lambs haven’t had a drink. I turned her up and not teets.’
‘She’s maybe borderline. She’s a red but……
‘Aye I’ll run her, she’s an old sheep’.
‘Come on toots’.
‘Go on now precious.’
Mixed media on paper – 75 x 55 cm.
New year. A gentle pirr of wind from the north cools my left cheek while the sun in the south warms my right. Walking across the yard I am met with ‘Morning Santa !’ from the men taking down the sheds. Carole calls them the Chuckle Brothers. We chat about holidays, building work, and how its impossible to keep the house clean with all the boots and mud and weather that gets in but the new porch should make things better. Her own work which involves taking school children to farms in Fife will start again shortly. She tells me the biggest challenge in farming today is the paperwork. Ian can come in after a days work only to spend a further three hours on admin. We talk about Young Farmers and the close-knit social circle of farmers and families, the problems if young ones get together but then break up. They will continue to bump into each other beacause of their network. Carole and Ian met through Young Farmers, she says most do.
The heifers cloudy breath softly, warmly fills the byre. I sit on the hay and they run away. After a while the more curiuos of them inch forward until eventually one has his head almost touching my hand, its nose smelling what I am. Its tongue curls up and cleans each nostril.
Outside black plastic billows in the breeze where the wind has torn it from the hay bales. Corrugated roofing sheets lie stacked in waves. Far off a dog barks. Birdsong. A chirky wren wheeks past into a hollow of an ash tree.
Sketch of Nell on the quadbike. Watercolour crayons.
Mixed media on paper – 140 x 60cm.
Thank you to everyone for following my walks this year. Its been great to have your company. I hope next year will bring new explorations and already there are some exciting possibilities as well as the culmination of current projects – the farm project which will exist in book form by the summer as well as an exhibiton at the Pittenweem arts festival, an exhibition with the Whitehouse Gallery in Kirkcudbright in May and an abstraction show with Fidra in April. Plus my new coastal studio (a WW2 look out post that looks out over the Firth of Forth ) where I will make new work and fingers crossed a colloborative project with friend and writer Rebecca Sharp. Thank you for all your support.
So wishing you a very merry christmas and a wonderful new year.
Oil on panel – 35 x 28 cm.
Charcoal on paper – 56 x 36 cm.
The byres are coming down, to be replaced with new ones. There are workmen on the far side of the roof. I sit drawing, listening to their conversation. ‘Aye Christmas is coming.’ Starlings on the wire, geese in formation. ‘I’m in the wrong place yet again’. Crows, shotgun. Angle grinders golden stars, ‘….sparking like fuck up here’. Each corrugated sheet is removed. ‘See over there, there’s someone sitting on that pile of rubble. They’re wearing red and there’s something white. Thought it was fuckin’ Santa, man !’ ‘What are they doin’ ?’ ‘I’m drawing’, I shout. ‘She’s drawing’. ‘What’s she drawing?’ ‘All of this’, I say. ‘Uh huh?’ Silence. Stillness. Shatters. Screech of metal on metal. ‘I must have magic hands, ma brain doesna ken when they’re doin’ things’. The cold seeps and sits on bones. I stand and stretch. Daylight is dwindling.