Once again, the year has flown by and it's time again for North East Open Studios, when artists and makers across northeast Scotland open their doors to the public. There will be potters, glassmakers, jewellers, painters, photographers, weavers, embroiderers and woodworkers, to name but a few. There will be exhibitions in village halls, garages, living rooms and sheds, studios and workshops.
This will be my fifth year taking part. As usual, I am not as organised as I would like to be. I will be collecting some last minute orders of greetings cards later on this afternoon. And stocking up on real coffee and raspberries for making muffins in the morning. I have not finished hanging my work. The Cabin is clean and tidy, however, so that is a good start. I'm looking forward to meeting new folk, welcoming back friends and people who have visited before.
To help people plan a day out visiting venues which are close together, I am delighted to be part of the North Deeside Road Trail - 13 artists within 15 minutes drive of each other. I'm venue number 214 this year. I look forward to seeing you in the next ten days! Open daily 10am - 5pm, except Tuesday and Thursday (closed). Open late till 8pm on Friday 18th September.
Here's the map - you can click on it to download a copy.
I signed up for a couple of Christmas Fairs this year. Last weekend I was at the Aboyne Playgroup Fayre in the Victory Hall in Aboyne. I am pretty much a novice at setting up a table, but tried not to let it show too much. I have a list, which helps. It means I don't forget vital things like table cloths, sticky labels and pens and a flask of coffee. Actually, there was free tea and coffee for the stall-holders at this event, which was great. I managed to make not too bad a fist of setting out my stall, in the end (you can judge for yourself - photo above).
I'd been assigned a table at the top of the hall, next to the face-painting. It was fun to watch a series of children be transformed into dogs, butterflies and (a sign of the times) angry birds. More fascinating, for the people-watcher that I am, was to see the personalities of these small beings, already well developed. The confident ones strode up to the chair, sat patiently while the art was applied to their little visogs and then picked up the mirror to admire the results. The shyer ones had a small motif drawn on their arm or hand. And the shyest didn't want their faces painted at all. Or perhaps it's not shyness; perhaps it's just the difference between extroverts and introverts. The sparkly blue butterflies went out into the world (or hall, village, Deeside) saying "look at me, I am pretty!", whereas the unpainted ones did not wish to draw attention to themselves. Perhaps they feel beautiful enough as they are.
Santa's grotto was behind me on the stage, so I did not get a chance to observe the small people there. But I could see the steps leading up there. Again, it was fascinating to see what went on. The small people who dragged mummy or daddy up the steps, desperate to tell Santa their wishes. The mummys and daddys trying to persuade their offspring to to go and visit the man in the red suit with his long white beard and big black boots. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I'm sure there were a few tears in that grotto. But hopefully more smiles than tears.
This Sunday I will be at Redwood Winter Fair in Echt Village Hall from 10am - 5pm. (The Fair is on both Saturday and Sunday, but I will just be there the one day). There will be face-painting, I believe. Hope to see you there!
It's nearly the end of my week's exhibition at the GALE centre in Gairloch. People have come and gone. They visit the centre for different reasons. Some come in search of accommodation - the staff are unfailingly patient and helpful, even when requests are made quite abruptly. I guess it must be stressful to arrive in an area without any accommodation booked and not know where you will be staying that night. Stressful, unsettling, unnerving. And they are supposed to be on holiday. The headline in the local newspaper yesterday was about the lack of accommodation and long queues for ferries out to the islands. I hope this alarmist attitude doesn't put visitors off. There are often still beds available in Bed and Breakfast places which do not advertise on websites, or through official organisations. I have not heard of any tourists sleeping rough in ditches anywhere. The campsites are busy too, with tents, caravans and campervans.
Others come in to obtain information about what to do in the area. Or for directions to the campsites or the harbour or to the nearest cash machine. Or where to get fish and chips.
I've chatted to many of the visitors here this week - from those who return year after year to the area, either simply because they love it, and/or because they have family or family connections, to those who have never been here before. Everyone is positive about their experience. Even on a grey drizzly day, there are comments on the beauty of the scenery and the wildness of the landscape. On a beautiful sunny day, such as today, there are fewer people in to browse the gifts and crafts and souvenirs, or to sample the lovely homemade cakes. They are all out busy enjoying the sunshine, either on a boat trip, or on one of the many unspoilt beaches, or perhaps up a mountain somewhere nearby. And that's as it should be; that's why we come here ourselves, after all.
Every so often, it is necessary to refill one's well of inspiration. That's one of the many things I love about North East Open Studios - I can go out and fill my well with all sorts of lovely things.
These are not necessarily finished pieces, or paintings, or creations. They may be fabrics, or an assortment of tools on a workbench, or raw materials waiting to be made into something new.
Or they may indeed be finished items. Paintings, ceramics, textiles. All with their own colours and textures and depths. Here are a few images of things I have seen during my days out visiting NEOS participants.
I am sure you will understand what I mean.
Tomorrow I'm taking part in the "24 Hour Arty People" event at Oil and Glass in Torry. This is a charity event, being organised and led by Shelagh Swanson, the marvellous owner of Oil and Glass. The event aims to raise funds for Momentum, a charity which I am ashamed to say I had not heard about before. Having read a little about it, I am happy to be spending a couple of hours painting tomorrow in its support.
I'm away to have a think about what I will paint tomorrow (I'll be there from about 2-4pm). I also need to gather my materials and stretch some paper in readiness. I'll be painting at my art class in Udny Green in the morning, so hoping my stamina will last out for two painting sessions in one day. Shelagh is bravely going to be creating throughout the 24 Hour period, I believe! It will be wonderful to see all the pieces that result from this creative marathon - (is this called a creatathon?).
All the pieces created will be available to purchase by silent auction; photos of the items will be available to view on the Oil and Glass Facebook page and it will be possible to purchase up till 9.30pm on Saturday 25th May. It's also Oil and Glass's 1st Birthday on Saturday, so folk can come along and celebrate from 7pm onwards, view the pieces created and maybe even make an impulse purchase! Hope to see you there.
I am at my first fair. I was going to say craft fair, but it's not. It's Voluntary Service Aberdeen's Spring Fayre at Easter Anguston, just west of Peterculter on the outskirts of Aberdeen. There are about 10 of us with stalls - with everything from fused glass pendants to pegbags, inflatable hammers to daschund cushion covers.
It is proving to be an interesting experience. I am learning a lot and my smile muscles have not had such a good workout in a long time. Meeting some lovely people. A grand day out so far, in spite of the rather changeable weather. I'm quite proud of my stand - simple but effective was what I was aiming for. Some sides for the gazebo might be a useful addition for next time - luckily there were only a couple of showers and I was able to move everything into the middle to keep dry. Also, a banner saying who I am. Onwards and upwards!