Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Season of Pollen and Stuff!

The year is hotting up and so is business. It never ceases to, thankfully, surprise me that what appears to be a scarily empty calendar can quickly and reassuringly fill up with events and going's on.
The downside to the year stretching and yawning itself  into action is the heightened threat of hay fever and, like clockwork, the scratchings, tiredness and discomfort predictably kick-in in mid-April. Its the birch tree pollen that does it for me - so I've just got to make do and mend and get on with it for about six or seven weks until it passes - I sound fairly phlegmatic but, truth be told, I do like to procure at least a modicum of sympathy for my ailment!!

What Flows
The year has seen me out and about capturing Galloway in her splendour with some examples of my efforts are on this blog - have a look through the new images section of my website for more, here.

I have also decided to create a facebook account for my business, here, this is an attempt to tidy things up and to make separate my ramblings and observations of life in general and my work. I hope this makes sense.
A Cross

On sunday I attended a VisitScotland event at the Catstrand in New Galloway to talk briefly to a number of bus tour operators from across the world who were visiting Galloway in order to investigate its potential as a destination for their Tour Companies. I was invited to attend as an unofficial advocate for the region and the arts. Actually, now I've written that down and thought about it it actually scares the pants off me!
Anyway, the Catstrand did a fine job in receiving the visitors and making them feel welcome while I added my idiosyncratic observations! The most important thing, I guess, is that the visitors apparently loved it and left with purchased items and smiles alongside their welcome packs - highlight for me was walking to the bus arm in arm with the elderly German representative, under our shared umbrella, while together singing 'Mein Hut Er Hat Drei Ecken'! Cool and incidentally the only German song I know.

I have also been a member of a small group instrumental in the setting up of a Collective of photographers here in Galloway, namely the Galloway Photographic Collective. We are a group of professional photographers whose aims include: increasing the standing of photography as an art-form, highlighting and broadcasting the glories of Galloway as a photographic and artistic destination and increasing the profile of ourselves and our work.
As you can imagine this is going to be a bit of a journey but we felt, in these financially straitened times, that together we might have more influence and more potential leverage in marketing and the promotion of our work - strength in numbers! See more of our aims and objectives and our work and meet the Collective: here.

Some Time


Everything Counts

OK, I think that enough for now.
I send some love to you and the hope that you are enjoying whatever it is you are doing and whoever it is you are doing it with.

With love
April 2012CE

Sunday, 26 February 2012

2012 - it's 2012!

Well, how have you all been keeping?
I don't have many regrets in my life, not many at all, but I do regret somewhat not keeping up to date with this my blog.
The new website has acted as the impetus to get moving again on here and I promise it won't be another 28months until I post another update!! Slack, moi?
There's probably too much to catch up on but will highlight a few events that I am keen to let you all know about:
Firstly the family is all well and growing at a far too alarming rate.
My dad died in October 2010 - I still miss him but can laugh and smile about him now
Business continues to grow and increase as I continually strive to improve both my photographic eye and the products I am creating.
The Gallery at Laurieston continues to be my hub and my 'important place'
I'm still in love with Galloway
I was pleased and proud to receive the Scottish Nature Photography Award 2010 (Natural Abstract) for my image Swirl - which you can see on this blog.
I held a very successful exhibition with long-time friend Hannah McAndrew at Gracefield Arts Centre Dumfries - this was a scary multi-disciplnary event whch was terribly well-received and took me out of my artistsic comfort zone.
I continue in my role as Director of Spring Fling, hailed as one of, if not the best, open studios event in the country.

There are other exciting developments and exciting images and stories I would like to share and will do so over the next few weeks.
But, until then, be good, take care and be nice to each other, we're only here once.
February 2012

Monday, 27 July 2009

Surgical Focus

Drooling - you betcha!!!

Knotted - uprising and uprooted!

Lions and Lionesses,

Its nearly August - how?

The summer is here and this has been, to date, the best weather for a summer we've had since moving up here in '05. Here's to more sun.

Lots of things have been exciting me, here's a few:

Ashes cricket
Forthcoming football season
Joe's new tooth and crawling ability
Digital television - so many choices, we've gone from four channels of tosh to over twenty!!
Alex's ever increasing break dancing routine!
Exhibitions upcoming (read on)
My car passing its MOT
Picking peas from the garden
My nettle fertiliser (I'm a simple man!!)

And, one that pained me:

Being kicked in the chuds by a friends eight year old son!


The next couple of months see probably my busiest times of the year, I've got lots on and hope I haven't spread myself too thin!

Here's a run through:

  • 31st July to the 4th August at Kirroughtree Visitor Centre near Newton Stewart with friends
  • 31st July to the 2nd August Kirkcudbright Arts and Craft Trail, I've been kindly invited in by Margo at Willow on the High Street to share her shop for the event
  • 8th August to the 2nd September the Mill-on-the-Fleet in Gatehouse of Fleet this is an exciting joint venture with sculptor Matt Baker where we have produced an exhibition entitled 'Travel Hopefully' which looks at change in the environment and erosion. Matt's a good guy and is worth checking out.
  • 19th August to the 31st August at the Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright with Hannah McAndrew and Linda Woodfield. We've got a really great space to work with here in Kirkcudbright is full of history and is a great venue. Hopefully Hannahs pottery, Lindas textiles and my images will do the place justice.
Will go now the little one is stirring.


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Islands and the Stream

My companions for the evening - note their ear plugs!!

The magnificent elephant stone

View to the mainland

Keith doing what Keith does!

Destination and avoidance

Hello again all

I'm still in a post Spring Fling stupor but felt it about time to update the blog and share my Hestan experience.
After many failed attempts due mostly to the inclement weather a time was finally set for Keith Kirk, (Galloway Countryside Ranger, photographer and nature head) and Mary Smith (writer, poet and traveller) and myself (singer, midge-magnet and snapper) to meet and do it!!
Our appointed meeting place was a midge infested roadside layby on the way to Balcary Bay, I was there first so took the opportunity to take some distant images of our goal - basically, to avoid the damned nipping blighters before being joined by Mary and Keith. Keiths opening and only safety message was thus: follow me and if you find yourself in quicksand then back-up as quickly as possible! Simple - I'd be doing just that Keith, no worries.
And, off we set, me in wellies and Keith and Mary in new-fangled neoprene shoes. The mile and a half walk across the mudflats as we followed out the receding tide was a pleasurable stroll made all the moreso by being able to view well-known and recognisable landmarks from a totally new and different perspective. I think, though I could be wrong, I sang all the way out there! While Mary and Keith (both Castle Douglas raised) were deep in conversation about this and that (I really wish I'd listened in more and not been singing) the snippets I picked up were both interesting and rather esoteric focussed as they were on tales, people and Stewartry lore.
I also listened to Keiths stories of deaths and near deaths as the quicksands took their toll over the years
Finally, we approached the dangerous bit - crossing the burn and the quicksands. As we waited for the tide to further recede I casually mentioned to Mary and Keith how terrific it would be to see an otter (as this to me appeared to be a quite likely setting) we all spotted a sinuous movement going back up the burn in the opposite direction to the flow and Keith remarked that this was possibly a large fish feeding and then discounted this as a mere ripple. We continued to watch and were stunned to see the velvety brown fur of an otter breach the surface and do its graceful arcing out of the water - WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I nearly wet myself. I have never until this point had the privilege of seeing an otter - a rubicon has been crossed and I feel different.
My utter and profound pleasure was matched, I believe, by Mary the two of us were transfixed. Keiths response was instant - he had his SLR out and he was prepared in seconds, seconds later he was downwind and about forty yards away with his shutter firing off like crazy. Brilliant to see an expert wildlife photographer in action - cheers Keith. I opted for the easy option of taking shots of Keith taking shots of the otter!!
After the excitement of the otter the tide had receded sufficiently to allow our traverse of the burn (This IS dangerous and should be avoided unless in the company of someone like Keith) my wellies were no match for my neoprened colleagues - despite my efforts to stay dry and the exhortations from Keith not to be 'a big wuss' - I ended up with full wellies but it mattered not a jot. We'd made it safely over the burn and onto the famous 'rack' the natural causeway made up of rocks and mussels by the thousand. This used to be a commercial enterprise, fishermen regularly tending and collecting the mussels from the beds.
And now the island approached! I was there!
One approaches the island with a degree of respect and excitement, well I do, I love the feelings being on an island invokes. One feels seperateness, distance, freedom and isolation alongside liberty all at the same time - only an island can do this to me.
The 'house' on the island is a small rather delapidated single story three roomed cottage with the remains of sheds and a byre and a long since used garden enclosed by tumbling stone dyke walls - it was excellent.
One scrambles up the hillside being confronted and bombarded by the noise of hundreds of gulls (Herring and Lesser Black Bcaked in the main) and their precious nests of two or three speckled eggs are abundant underfoot, so one walks with great care and concern. Halfway up the climb and the remains of a steading is noted, legend has it that this was the summer house of John Balliol who along with his wife Devorguilla established Sweetheart Abbey at New Abbey - theirs is a love story, comparable only to Peter Andre and Jordan, probably!
The lighthouse is a small affair though worthy nonetheless.
We had but an hour or so of time on the island before the incoming tide would have made our way back impossible and impassable.
Just time enough to visit the copper mine and stroke the elephant stone (if ever a natural phenomenon was worthy of an animal epithet then this is it!!)
Before rounding the cape and heading back along the rack and the burn and the hike over the sands - again with me singing and Keith and Mary deep in dialogue!
I loved it and really can't wait for the return visit alongside Keith and Mary hopefully to spend the whole day on the place......................grrrrrrr!
Thanks for sharing this with me - I hope it sits well with Keith and Mary!!!
'til next time.
Go easy and be nice to each other.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

White Belly

What a few weeks its been - I'm just about now able to assimilate all the experiences of the Spring Fling. As previously mentioned on here I really didn't know what to expect - on reflection, I think that was just as well. It was mind-blowingly hectic, sometimes too much so, which meant I was unable to give some visitors and customers the time and courtesy they ordinarily deserved. If you were one of those I can but offer apologies.
Overall though I hope that visitors to my Gallery had a worthwhile and positive experience and may feel the need to return in the future.
One rather unexpected outcome from the Fling was the concept of people taking notes while I talked and discussed images and imagery - strange one that. Who'd want to listen to me!!!
I've also had some really nice people arrange appointments to view my work and this has been brilliant - I've been abel to put the kettle on for a brew and allow people to take their time while considering images - nice, all round!

I also recently had the opportunity to visit one of our wonderful local gardens, Barwhillanty which incidentally is open to visitors this week, thanks to Steve the Head Gardener for the invite - it blew me away and left me with a headache, it was all too much.

Other news was that I finally fulfilled one of my long-held Galloway dreams and got to set foot on the mighty Hestan (Heston, I can't decide) Island off the Auchencairn coast. This will take up a full blog in the fullness of time but for now I'd just like to thank Keith and Mary my fellow trippers for the experience. A word to the wise though, in no way would I encourage this trip without the company of someone who knows the sands, tides and dangers - its scary stuff and big thanks and respect to Keith who fulfills all the necessary knowledge criterion.

More news and a fuller report on Heston/Hestan to follow.
Until then be good y'all and be nice to each other - its better by far than being nasty.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

If The Brakeman Turns My Way

Sheep at Sunset

Across the Bay

All Boats Leak a Little

Its been too long - what have I been doing??? Not writing blogs thats what!
There has been quite a lot going on. I have agonised and I mean agonised over so many things of late that its untrue. How can one man prevaricate so profusely......easily, I should say.

Lets get down to business and pick over the corpse of the last seven weeks:
  • My football team is safe - Barrow AFC will once again be plying their trade in the Blue Square Premier league, this is a monstrous and remarkable achievement. I express my thanks and gratitude to all concerned.
  • I have agonised then agonised some more over selections to display in the Gallery for this years Spring Fling www.spring-fling.co.uk The selections have been made, the order has now been placed - the torment is now over!! Making selections, such as these, are really difficult - I now need to feel reassured that I thought long and hard over it and cut no corners.
  • After having some seriously good feedback regarding the Gallery, its 'feel' and layout I intend having a fairly robust revamp to freshen the place up a bit. I guess after being open now for nearly a year it was inevitable that I would slip into bad habits and allow myself to become rather sloppy. Having someone in to offer a critical appraisal was welcome and very helpful - cheers Colin!
  • I also had the good fortune to call in on fellow photographers Ted and Morag up in Dalry - refreshingly normal and 'ticketless' people - nice! I shared an Earl Grey, croissants (can you pluralise croissant??) and blether, 'twas great. And, and, and most importantly not a mention of focal lengths, apertures, lenses or locations - bliss. Cheers guys!
  • There was also the not small matter of the Spring Fling taster exhibition which took place recently in Dumfries (before travelling across the region to Stranraer). This was a first for me - it was significant coup by the Fling committee to have the Culture Minister for Scotland present at this launch to deliver the keynote address and launch the whole event. I must say from a personal standpoint this took me out of my comfort zone due, in part, to the quality and depth of talent on display and the experience of being there! I think its good to be taken from ones comfort zone and hopefully when in the same position again I might be able to relax and actually enjoy it!!!
  • I also had a lovely experience when one of my old teachers called in to the Gallery! Do you call ex-teachers 'sir' still? Nah, I plumped for the first name informality, which was well received. It was great to catch up and offer advice and support in Lindsays well-advanced photographic hobby.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to actually get out there with my camera has not been too forthcoming hopefully over the next few weeks the chance will arise and I'll go get dirty.

Until next time go easy readers and have fun.

Joe, Alex and me at Barstobric (I'm on the left!)

Thursday, 26 February 2009

A Modern Way of Letting Go!

Thought I'd also add a winter image of the 'Gallery at Laurieston' - and here it is!! Every flake is different, allegedly!


'The Golden Section (ii)'

Hi, again
All those jobs that one needs to do early in the new year are slowly progressing. Although its scary to think that we are fast-approaching MARCH! How did that happen.
February has been good up here, I've managed to get out with my camera on a few occasions and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. All this means that I've got a lot of images to assess and value their merits and determine whether they deserve to be taken further - this is an onerous but vital part of my job. Its totally unglamorous but ultimately critical!
It's been a proper winter this year and I've loved it!
I've also had to select two images to best represent my body of work for inclusion in the forthcoming Spring Fling taster exhibition to be held in Dumfries and then Stranraer. This is my first time in the Fling and is something I am looking forward to with, I hope, healthy trepidation! Selecting these two images took me hours and hours - I do hope I have chosen wisely. I felt it important to include both a Galloway landscape scene and a fine-art image. I'll post them here (see above) and hope I receive positive feedback from you, my most discerning critics!
I've also been progressing with my flyer and business cards needs and feel more confident with my approach - DL flyers are the way forward Hannah!!!
Exciting news: I this week met with another local artist to consider collaboration. Mary Smith is a poet and writer whose work I have been aware of for some time following her joint-workings with sculptor Matt Baker and artist Silvana McLean - I was very taken with the outcomes of both these ventures but particularly by the moving and emotional words from Mary which connected excellently with the powerful pieces sculpted by Matt at the Cairnsmore of Fleet reserve - worth it, trust me!!! Anyway, Mary and I met and had a think about the potential between us. Suffice to say this has had my thought-processes working overtime and brainstroming ideas together with Mary - already I think we have many many avenues to follow, some which excite me greatly!
See Mary's site here: http://marysmith.co.uk/index.asp
I called in to see Hannah McAndrew earlier in the week and had a chat and a cuppa - cool! It was great to see Hannahs vision coming together as her plans for a wood-fired kiln is developing well - not sure about the wood-stacking though!! Could do better, particularly Pauls poor effort!

My footie team still struggle - come on AFC!!

Until next time - love to you all