I am getting back to some painting, my studio is smelling of turps, well actually its lavender spike oil. I’ve had to stop using turps, don’t think its doing me any good, inhaling the fumes all day. But this afternoon I need to get out for a walk, so I decide on badgers wood. I didn’t realise how cool it is, a north east wind wheeking through the line of beech trees that mark the northern boundary. I check out the badger setts and make my way through the conifer plantation next to a the ruin of a cottage. Standing under the tall pines the wind creaks the branches, their voices exclaiming how inclement the weather has become. A buzzard replies with its plaintive cry, followed by a series of small squeaks from above – a pair of goldcrests dancing from one branch to the next, and above them a brown bird with a white front shambles its way up the tree. Odd. I’ll look it up when I get home. Out of the wood across the bare fields, the sky is darkening and the wind picks up. I make my way back , hands deep in my pockets, head down back to the car.
Back home over a cup of tea, I look up the bird I couldn’t identify. A tree creeper. Ha, well thats a new one for me. How brilliant is that.
Gurlie by the way means blustery, threatening, bleak weather.
Borage blue stars, ox blood dockan seeds. Nettles as tall as they will get flank the oat field. Cabbage seas peak and crest the rise to the north, steely, cold. In the copse, ash trees jostle with tall pines. Leaves clatter through the canopy like coins in a penny pusher arcade game at the fair. One more tuppence……. Something stirs a large flock of seagulls in a fallow field, westward. They rise screeching, whirling, waltzering. They circle and settle once more.
So my next project is decided. Hopefully if the weather is fine I am booked on the last landing trip of the season. The gannets will shortly be leaving for feeding grounds off west Africa for the winter. This drawing came from a previous visit a couple of years ago and it is only now that I think I might be able to meet this desolate basalt rock face on. In fact despite its proximity to Edinburgh it has to be one of the wildest places I have ever visited – an inverse to Rannoch Moor in so many ways and yet Bass Rock is another landscape where humans are absent, a place where we have no business. It is this spirit that connects these places and one where I will try and get to an understanding of sorts if that is possible. I am looking forward to the challenge.
I am not done with this place. This place is not done with me.
The iron line crosses future, past. *
Fifty years ago today Joseph Beuys and Richard Demarco travelled to Rannoch where Beuys performed and ‘action’, an event of art. It involved holding aloft a piece of calf’s- foot jelly, of that much I know, but not the significance for him. Perhaps the lifeless gelatinous delicacy that pulsed with life from his own hand to effect a beating heart was an attempt to assuage the bog gods.
I am yet one more artist, one more traveller whose soul has been captured and carried off below into the black deep space of subterranean time, stored for the next thousand years or more. I shall bury a lock of my now greying hair as an act of my own resistance with a word carved on wood that reads ‘thrawn’. Me, it. It, me.
Rannoch Moor, Rannoch dear beloved place.*
(* Lines from a poem about Rannoch Moor by the poet Jackie Kay, that in its handwritten form are framed on the wall at the station. )
Drawing from walk at Glen Tilt yesterday.