I have been very fortunate to find a writers' group to join in my new location. They have been very welcoming and I already feel very at home with them all. It's such a pleasure to share writings with others who write, and to hear everyone's contributions at our monthly meetings. It is often only when you read a piece out loud that you find the stumbling blocks - literally tripping over words and so finding out that they are probably not in the best order after all. There is always something to learn, things that can be done better.
As a result of joining the writers' group, I've recently had the great pleasure of being invited to record some of my short stories for the wonderful local radio station - Two Lochs Radio. A couple of these have been broadcast in the half hour programme, Westwords, which is broadcast on the first Wednesday of the month (at 9pm), and then repeated on the first Sunday (at 8pm). There are short stories, poems and longer pieces, all by local writers, delightfully interspersed by little snippets of appropriate music. One of my longer short stories is to be included in the next programme, on Wednesday 4th March (and then again on Sunday 8th March). If you are not in the local area, you can listen online, via the Two Lochs Radio website.
In the meantime, I thought I would share one of the stories which was broadcast for the first time at the start of this month, "Beyond the Begonias". It is also available in print in my first self-published volume of short stories, "A Short Collection of Small Stories". For anyone who is interested, it is one of my "alphabet" stories, where each sentence starts with the consecutive letter of the alphabet (and the story thus consists of 26 sentences). A little leeway is allowed when it comes to the letter "X"!
Beyond the Begonias - short story
After the rain stopped, she started planting again. Blood red begonias in big terracotta pots. Celia’s favourite flowers; she scooped handfuls of compost from the bag beside her, pressed the plants in firmly, watered them carefully. Digging her hands into the warm brown peatiness, she felt something akin to relief. Even breathing had been hard, recently. Forever looking over her shoulder, watching her back, thinking carefully before she spoke.
Gordon had become impossible. Hard to believe that the inert form sitting benignly beyond the French doors had once been a loving husband. Inch by inch, he had tortured them both into a living hell. Just when she had got to the point when she knew she must leave, a different plan emerged in her head. Kneeling on her cushioned weeding mat, a voice within had spoken quite clearly. Laughable though the thought was, Celia turned it over in her mind for several days. Moving through time in a stupor of misery, she nurtured the idea from tiny seed to little seedling. Now it was firmly planted; had taken roots, put out grasping tendrils. Only the timing had to be completely right. Piggishness on Gordon’s behalf had become the norm; she simply could not tolerate it one minute longer. Quelling her doubts, which were numerous, irrational and invalid, she acted quickly.
Right after supper one evening, she summoned him to the rooftop terrace to examine a fictitious missing slate. Shoving him over the tiny balcony had been easier than she had imagined. The body landed close to the new flowerbed, dug that morning by the young gardener she had recently employed. Under the dim sulphur glow of the streetlamps that night, she dragged the corpse into the hole. Violent waves of nausea overcame her and she gave her stomach contents as a parting gift. Where he had gone, no-one would ever know. Exiled to another country, run off with that brassy woman from down the road? Yes, maybe.
Zinnia, that was the name she had been trying to recall; that would be perfect for the new bed, Celia thought with a smile.
I hope this finds you well and ready to embrace a new decade.
I have quite a few bits of news to share, so here goes....
Poolewe Tuesday Market
I'm delighted to announce that I'll be taking part in Poolewe Tuesday Market this year. It's on from 10am til 2.30pm every Tuesday from the end of March until the end of October, in Poolewe Village Hall, with a wonderful range of artists and makers and food producers selling their wares. I'll have a table there with my artwork, gift items and cards nearly every week. Details of dates will be listed on my Pebbles on the Beach Facebook page (under Events). Very much looking forward to this, hope to see you there!
An Talla Solais Members' Show in Ullapool
I was thrilled to sell a couple of "Shipping Forecast" paintings at the Members' Show at An Talla Solais in Ullapool at the end of last year. The icing on the cake was also to have my work mentioned in a glowing review of the exhibition by Ian Mackay in the newly launched (last year) "Art North" magazine. Do look out for this publication, it's full of wonderful articles and reviews - you can subscribe to it online.
Delighted to say that some of my items (cards, keyrings, mugs and coasters) will soon be stocked by the lovely "Cabinet", which is the shop in the same premises as An Talla Solais gallery on West Argyle Street, Ullapool, IV26 2UG.
Open from the end of March until the end of October. Opening times to be confirmed; open when exhibitions are open.
Thanks so much for your interest in my work, it is greatly appreciated.
all the best
Pebbles on the Beach has moved...
Since the summer, I have been based near Gairloch on the northwest coast of Scotland. I am happy to say that this is where you will find me for the foreseeable future. The move is opening up new opportunities, as well as giving me the chance to strengthen existing connections. I am looking forward to the next chapter.
I currently have paintings (all from The Shipping Forecast series) in two exhibitions - the "Out there in Torridon" exhibition at the Loch Torridon Community Centre Gallery, and the Members' Show at An Talla Solais in Ullapool (my first time exhibiting there, delighted to be taking part!).
Opening times :
Torridon - Mon, Wed & Friday, 11am - 3pm.
Ullapool - Open every day 11am - 1.30pm and 2-4pm, until 22 December.
I am delighted to say that I will be exhibiting at Inverewe Garden in 2020 - more news about this soon.
I'm taking part in two events in the coming weeks - firstly -
I will have a selection of my products at the fairs - shown above are Shipping Forecast calendars, mugs, coasters, small original linoprints (new designs), customised sketchbooks (watercolour paper) and small original watercolours.
As always, thank you so much for your interest in my work, it is greatly appreciated.
All the best,
Photo credit : Ailsa Watson
For National Poetry Day
I wrote this free-form poem (with minor alterations) at the start of this year. It was a contribution to the Sustaining Life as a Creative Programme, run by the wonderful Creative Learning team in Aberdeen, which I was very fortunate to take part in.
The brief was to describe our creative journey.
I am the small pigtailed girl
Perched on the window seat, with
sugar paper and poster paints,
brush and water pot,
the wooden trolley
I am that girl in shorts and tee-shirt
on the west coast shore
searching for crabs every summer
before rockpooling was a thing
collecting shells and pebbles,
sticks and stones
I am the girl playing in the
corrugated iron shed behind
my granny’s house
wildflowers in a jam jar on the rickety table -
the hedgehog visiting -
imagination my best friend
I’m the schoolgirl sailing on the loch
with my first love
I'm the teenager climbing hills with friends
gazing over Scotland -
hills and heather
burns and boulders,
I am the student, drawing in my lab book,
Learning the nature of science
I am the scientist, fishing for facts about
Trout and mackerel and herring,
I am the translator, editor, creator,
putter-together of research volumes,
organiser of conferences and treasurer of troves
I am the mum with no clue -
doing, not making,
(except soup and cakes and occasionally marmalade)
with a head crammed full, jammed full
a scarcity of time to call mine
I am the thirty-something friend,
persuaded to trade
My violin for a fiddle,
To play tunes with people
Who would become pals
To add another dimension
I am the mandolin-playing ceilidh band member,
calling out dance steps
- Oh, the feeling of power!
I am the teacher of students,
The organiser of labs and lectures,
Marker of essays,
Developer of screen-based things
With no song to sing
Or dance to bring
I am the escapee,
Fleeing to evening classes -
Some shaky pots, a few pale paintings,
My sketchbook brought along
On family holidays
For rare moments of
I am the e-learning adviser,
Brain addled by screens,
Quitting the squeaky lino floors
Before it was too late
I am the pupil once more, online
And for real,
(because I respond well to being
I am the walker,
Walking with purpose -
In three years.
And Ben Nevis
No hesitation –
I am the delivery driver,
Dropping off veg
I am the spinner of stories
Weaver of yarns
I am the open studios partaker
Opening the door to my shed,
Pretending it is a studio,
letting people in to my life
To ask me questions
Which I find hard to answer –
When, What, Why, How?
It seems that some
Wish they had my life, whatever they
May think that is – living the dream –
An endless stream of ideas, most of which
Get washed away in the shower -
Down the drain, never to be
I am the artist, maker,
Creator of things
Which bring joy
I am the West coast
Still walking the tideline
In search of shells and pebbles,
Bleached bones of wood
Filling my pockets
Again and again
Still looking out to sea
I hope this finds you well and that you have enjoyed the summer - it definitely feels as if we are moving into autumn now.
I am happy to be taking part in North East Open Studios again this year - at the same venue as last year - the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside, Aberdeen. There will be nine of us showing a lovely range of work - from furniture to textiles, fused glass to painting, mixed media and printmaking. We call ourselves Art at the Phoenix for this event. I am number 302 in the NEOS book.
I have continued with The Shipping Forecast series of paintings and will have more of these on show, as well as small mounted works, mugs, coasters and of course greetings cards and 2020 calendars. There will be updates on my Pebbles on the Beach Facebook page throughout NEOS.
Opening Times -
I look forward to seeing you there!
"Occasional Rain" - original watercolour
You are invited to my Solo Exhibition : 4-29 June at the Acorn Gallery in the Acorn Centre in Inverurie.
The exhibition is open during cafe opening hours, so you can enjoy
coffee and cake, or a light lunch during your visit!
Open Tuesday - Thursday 10am - 3pm, Friday & Saturday, 10am - 4pm.
The Acorn Centre is within Inverurie West Parish Church, on
West High Street, Inverurie, AB51 3SA
"Fair, moderate or good".
The main focus of the show is a collection of new "Shipping Forecast" paintings, continuing with the theme I started last year during North East Open Studios. This is a series of seascapes of various sizes, all with titles based on phrases from the the well known and loved Shipping Forecast, broadcast every day on Radio 4. There will also be a few paintings of Bennachie on show.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition!
"Falling more slowly" "Occasionally high later"
"Good, occasionally poor" 80cm x 22cm approx.
February already! I hope this finds you settling in to 2019 and keeping warm in the recent wintry spell of weather.
This year I have taken the plunge and signed up for "Dream Plan Do", a scheme run by the Design Trust to help artists and makers (all creatives in fact) make a success of their business. It centres around a journal/workbook which asks lots of questions; some easy to answer (not many!), some more difficult and some downright scary! There is also a Facebook group, where we can compare notes, organise to meet face to face and agree that we need to reduce the amount of time we spend on social media... So far, it has certainly made me think about what I am doing and why, and where I am heading. There may be some changes ahead, but all good ones, I hope. I will keep you posted.
In the meantime, here are some exhibition dates for your diary - quite a long way ahead, but I guess it's good to be thinking about warm days ahead while we are still in February!
I will be taking some work over to the west coast to be part of the new "The Living Land Sea Sky" exhibition at the Loch Torridon Centre, which will be on from 14th May - 31st August. Current (winter) opening hours are 11-3, Mon, Wed & Fri. Easter to October, open 10-4, Monday - Saturday.
Delighted to say I'll be having a solo exhibition at the Acorn Centre in Inverurie. This will run from Monday 3rd June - Sat 29th June. Opening hours to be confirmed nearer the time.
Next up is the annual Milltimber, Bieldside & Cults Festival Art Exhibition, which runs this year from 22-25 August (Thurs - Sun). At the Phoenix Centre, Newton Dee, Bieldside, in Aberdeen.
And last but by no means least, I'm delighted to say that I will be showing my work as part of Art at the Phoenix at Newton Dee, for this year's North East Open Studios (NEOS).The dates for this year's event are Sat 14 - Mon 23 September. There will be ten artists and makers at the venue this time.
As you probably know, I produced some more "Shipping Forecast" paintings back in October - now it's time to get them framed and ready to go out into the world! Images above and below show a couple of them.
"Fair. Moderate or Good." 98cm x 24cm approx.
Christmas cards now available!
This year's Christmas cards were designed during a break on the west coast. The colours were influenced by what I had in my palette while painting some more of my Shipping Forecast series of paintings. In fact, I used what was there, so have ended up with less-than-traditional hues in the new cards! I was also inspired by collecting ferns and berries on my daily woodland walk, to construct a little "Christmas tree" photo design. Cards are now available to purchase from my website and from some of my local stockists.
Next year's calendar features some of my most recent paintings in The Shipping Forecast series. As in previous years, it's a slimline calendar with the back of each image printed so you can send it as a postcard. They are now available to purchase in my website shop, and also from some local stockists.
Delighted to say I have some original work in two exhibitions which are opening soon. The first is in Aberdeen, at Submit, organised by Peacock Visual Arts. The venue is W OR M in The Castlegate. Open 4th December - 19th January 2019. 10-5 daily until 23 Dec, then 10-5 daily 8th-19th Jan. All work is unframed. Below is one of the paintings I will have on show. ("Orange & Blue" - still life).
The second exhibition is on at the Moray Art Centre in Findhorn. It's on from 27th November until 3rd February 2019. Opening times - 10-5 daily Tues - Fri, 12-5 at weekends. "Storm 5 or 6" shown below, right, is one of two paintings I have in this show.
Many thanks for your continued interest
and all very best wishes for the festive season.
Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to come and visit the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee during North East Open Studios last month (October already, how did that happen?!). It is always lovely to catch up with old friends and to meet new folk. Many interesting conversations were had, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback about my new work was very much appreciated. It turns out that lots of you are very fond of the colour blue!
I often find myself listening more than talking, during NEOS, which suits me fine as I am more naturally a listener than a talker. And so it was that I came away enriched by Shipping Forecast related stories; the lady who had the "Sailing By" tune played at her seafaring father's funeral, the friend who came to hate geography lessons at school, because they were made to transcribe the shipping forecast as it was broadcast, and she could never keep up. Another visitor who lamented listening to the midnight broadcast, as it meant that, once again, she could not sleep.
There were other stories too - an older gentleman who had been a cabin boy on a boat which sailed up and down the west coast of Scotland in the 1960's, who recognised the view of the Torridon mountains from Gairloch, in one of my paintings. He told me what his weekly wages were, and that beer in those days was 6d a pint (not that he was drinking it at 16, of course...). I love this sparking of memories which my work can produce; that recognition of a place, or a time, or a feeling. To me, that's one of the best parts of NEOS.
A word that I heard many time during the week about my Shipping Forecast series of paintings was "atmospheric". I'll take that, thank you.
Many thanks again to all who came to visit; your interest and support is greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, if you would like to get hold of my cards or other items, please see my Stockists page for where you can find them. Some items are also available from my online Shop here on my website.
This will be my eighth year taking part in NEOS (North East Open Studios). I'm number 269 in the book this year and will be at the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside in Aberdeen again. Eleven artists and makers will show their work there; we call ourselves "Art at the Phoenix". There will be a lovely mix of paintings, mixed media work, textiles, ceramics, fused glass, wooden furniture and more. Delighted to be part of it again - also thrilled that my daughter, Ailsa (number 268 in the book) is showing her textiles and illustration work at the same venue. Looking forward to welcoming visitors!
We will be open daily 10am - 4pm, from Saturday 8th - Sunday 16th September.
I will have some new work on show - a series of paintings with titles such as "Rising Slowly" and "Backing Southwesterly", based on The Shipping Forecast - the weather programme on Radio 4. They are mostly sea and skyscapes, inspired by the coast and ever changing light on the west coast of Scotland.
I've also been experimenting with lino printing and collage this year, and will have some of this work on display as well.
I have continued to do watercolour sketches throughout the year, so will have some new card designs available. Look forward to seeing you soon!