Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Journey far North West Scotland towards Sutherland

Movement Far North West (

Trip to Noto Hanto peninsula, Ishikawa Ken

The towering Niou guardians upon entering the thousand year old Myoujoji Temple (Nichiren Shu), on the West side of Noto.

Sacred rocks and shinto shrine, brief stop on the road north towards Wajima..

Lunch stop restaurant had its own guardian, a slightly plump dragon with a chainsaw, sculpting a mushroom. Pic on right was the lunch set starter. The delicious deep fried prawns with main were about 15cm long, all for around 1000 yen – no wonder the place was busy.

I was fairly impressed with this bench at Shikamachi, apparently the World’s Longest Bench at 460m, the huge sign proclaimed as we arrived. Very comfortable too, and plenty of space.

Journey to Tokyo from Glasgow by jumbo jet and shinkansen

After arriving in Japan I had a couple of weeks to prepare the works, organise mounting, liaise with Gallery 80 and develop my self-styled ‘black box’ multimedia construction. Time was pressing but with lots of kind and well timed help we had everything organised. Special thanks to Aki-san, Tanaka Shin-san, and gallery visitor turned assistant Minachan.

On the way to Tokyo and in Toyama I shot a fair bit of footage and took a good few snaps too… it was a fantastic feeling to be on the Shinkansen again (with bento box and Wonda coffee – ‘the start of a great day’) tunnelling through the Nihon Alps and cruising over the bright green tanbo rice fields.

Working on the coast, South Uist

It was great to be out around the quiet lands, lochs and coasts of the Outer Hebrides, there was a lot to get into photography wise and with drawing and markmaking. There was a good spell of weather, with a lull in the usual westerly winds and salty spray, which was ideal for spending time working around the piles of seaweed, Atlantic Ocean eroded rocks and pools at low tide. Plus some time for Chi Kung on the beach. And for being double frazzled in the sun.

Movement North West through Skye and the Outer Hebrides

Climbing Goat Fell and into the Western hills of Arran

roast chicken and arran brie still sea signpost east route supply structures winding ascent moving quickly fresh burn water not a soul or bird in sight through the rockline getting tired need food goat fell summit sudden wind and jagged torn rock vista food stop lying low following companions wild goat and animal howls no wind again galloping descent wild flowers and distant bright shores gradually cool no sun dark greens merging into purple blues

new day resting at pirnmill slowly up along the allt gobhlach burn twisted small old forest steep gorge thick ferns and waterfalls soft grasses soft breeze midges choking on a cherry scone bogged down stone-bog-heather-slope beinn bharrain warm grey chaotic rock and heather patterns looming hill cloud and soft rain

More images recollected from Arran trip

Found this Calmac staff member supervising the ferry traffic as we drove aboard at Brodick…

I stupidly thought these sheep were actually grazing on the Corrie harbour pier, however we realised they were for tying up boats after the nearby seal drying itself on the rock turned out to be another humorously crafted fake by the canny locals!

Canal journey notes – Firth and Forth Canal

Outdoor Installation Artwork (Abernethy Part 2)

Whilst at Abernethy in the Cairngorms area I made some land art work with a combination of metal, card and also found materials which I salvaged near the river bed. It was really enjoyable and a challenge working in this forested contained environment (midge infested, still itchy thinking about it!), moving quickly to combine the materials and get the shapes, forms and textures going the way I wanted with the surroundings. My initial idea had changed a bit, and the two metre long low piece started to work fairly well from a distance. It was there for a couple of days until the rain set in, which added a different light and new textures. I was fortunate to have some excellent assistants too – Holly Best and Douglas Wilkie – help me move the work into different points and document, changing as it went. The river setting against the pink worked pretty well I think. As the piece got wetter and the blue twilight deeper, we dismantled, cleaned up our traces and enjoyed the walk back.

Abernethy Art Trip 2012 – Part 1

‘Twas an excellent trip up north in the Cairngorms and Aviemore area again this year with the Hamilton College Art Department – very energising, artistically productive and lots of laughs too (mostly at each other, and there was some lazy gentry to paint for too, as well as a sudden escape off Cairn Gorm mountain at midnight chased by some boy racers). Refreshing to work outdoors although it did take a couple of days afterwards to recover from all the activity, fresh air and midge massacres. Alan and Jane had everyone working on Impressionist influenced pieces, mostly made on the spot using watercolour and acrylics. Edith led an excellent workshop working with folded paper body adornment pieces – my effort above turned into a bit of Nightmare Before Christmas theme but I really enjoyed and at least the male contingent of our group wasn’t let down! Alan’s talks got us going each morning and he told us quite a few super quotes, such as:

‘Enter my north room, touching the walls with grass, clouds and trees…’

William Carlos Williams

‘Colour is the place where our brain and universe meet.’

Paul Klee