Thursday, 20 September 2012


Today has been spent out and about, looking at art in all its guises.  I just noticed that word "spent". It really has been spent, hasn't it?  Gone forever now.  I'm happy to say I believe I spent it fruitfully, which is not always true.  May that be a lesson to keep with me.  That all sounds very serious - maybe because I am tired after my day gadding about the countryside.  I went prepared today, with a picnic lunch. 

I went south today, heading straight for Old Portlethen, where it did what it said on the tin.  A warm welcome awaited (as it says in the catalogue) at the home and studio of David and Jane Pettigrew.  Over a hundred pieces of artwork adorned the walls of their home and studio, as well as the corridor that joins them.  They obviously work quite happily in the spaces within their home.  I know that I am not tidy enough to be able to do that.  We spoke for quite a long while, about materials and methods, Italy and Manhattan, washing and textures.  Have a look at the website and you will understand why washing (as in washing-line) featured in our conversation.  Before I left, we went to look out over the sea from their cliff-top perch.  What a magical place to live and work.

Stonehaven is always a good place for a picnic and today was no exception.  Everyone else seemed to have the same idea - the esplanade beside the excellent fish and chip shop and tempting ice cream shop was chockablock with cars.  I regretted not taking the dogs with me for an outing, as I would then have had a brisk walk along the beach.  As it was, I slothed in the car, munching and listening to the radio. 

Gallery at Fifty Five has not been open very long.  It is on the main street in Stonehaven.  Three painters are exhibiting there just now; one is the gallery owner, who paints in watercolour.  The other two were very bright and vivid, real splashes of colour.  There is such a variety of work on display during NEOS.

Thereafter I zoomed down the coast road to Catterline, to the Old Schoolhouse.  Combine harvesters worked away in the fields as I sped past.  Again, a wide range of work was on show.  I don't know about you, but I prefer to wend my own way through an exhibition and don't particularly like being told which "end" to start at.  Nor do I like heavily scented candles filling the air with a smog of perfume.  But that's just me.  I'm sure loads of people love it.  Perhaps it works in the same way as having background music playing.  If there is a familiar tune playing, or one which evokes good memories or assocations, is one more likely to make a purchase? Maybe it works the same way with our sense of smell.  Interesting.

The Phoenix Hall at Newton Dee has several artists exhibiting together.  I could not recall having seen any of Catherine Imhof-Cardinal's work before, but I was very taken with it.  So much so that I bought a book about it!  Chatted with Alison Davidson about her work, too, and discovered that she runs classes locally.  Debbie Neill is also exhibiting there - I studied her paintings with interest, as I've signed up for one of her workshops next month.

The last stop of the day was at Mill Farm, near Kemnay - Susie Hunt's studio, where a talented group of folk are exhibiting together (and having a rare old time as well, by all accounts).   Here I was offered a very welcome cup of tea and even a fancy piece (or two).  That's something I have been doing - offering a cuppa and homebakes.  It usually goes down a treat.  I know from my touring experiences, not just this year, but over the past few years, that it is really tiring trekking round the countryside looking at art.  Yes, it is.  Really.  I know that my senses get overloaded, especially the visual, so regular sustenance is required.  (How does that work, exactly?).  That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.  The only problem can be that, having partaken of sustenance of a liquid variety, loo stops are inevitably required.  So, when planning your NEOS route, do try to ensure that both of these needs are met.  Preferably in the same location, without having to pay 20p (as I had to do; Stonehaven, you know where you are!). 

So, the last stop.  Lots of chat with Morag McGee, who explained how raku firing works; I want to see it in action now, having smelt a piece that was done yesterday.  I should have worn my "Fit Like" earrings that I bought from her last year... maybe that would have been a bit obvious.   I sifted through a box of lovely pen and ink drawings by Gabi Reith and found a beautiful one which appealed to me straight away. "Posh Bird" came home with me; I will need to find a suitable frame for her.  There's also lovely jewellery on display in the studio, from fused glass to acrylic and found materials.  And some interesting photographs.  Just as well I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet.  But some seeds of ideas were planted.

The light today was not as fantastic as two days ago, so I took very few photographs.  This was what caught my eye just a little way up a farm track not far east of Dunecht.


I like to think that was my sixth venue of the day.  The smell of the freshly cut wood was amazing.  If only these were scratch and sniff photographs.  While I was packing up to leave the track, a chap arrived in dark coloured estate car and parked a little way further up.  I wondered if he was going to tell me off for lurking amongst the woodpile.  I had been very careful not go to near, heeding the warning signs not to climb on top of them.  But no, he proceeded to shin over the wall and up on to the pile of thickest trunks.  He took out a tape measure and measured at least one of them, lengthwise.  I didn't like to stare too hard.  He looked as if he knew what he was doing, was meant to be there.  Probably a forestry chappie, I thought, though he wore a navy fleece, not a dark green one.  My mind set to wondering; perhaps he was going to hollow a canoe out of one of the large logs, and needed to know if it was wide enough?  Or was he a log rustler?  Is there such a thing as a log rustler? And are they called that? 

Enough already.  It's been a long but interesting day.  Plenty of food for thought.

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