If I were to label myself, I would say I’m an islander. This would be true for me if I lived anywhere in Shetland, as here you are never further than 5km from the sea. I enjoy that fact, and find ease in it. The sea can be a lifeline, a way of life, a barrier and a comfort. However, I feel even more of an Islander because I grew up on Britain’s most remote Island, Fair Isle. Nicknamed “a jewel in the ocean”, it is only 3 x 1.5 miles in size and currently is home to about 55people.
I feel very grateful to be able to call such a beautiful place home, and although I do not live there currently I very much still see it as where I am from. It shapes my way of thinking and being, but most importantly it plays a vital role in shaping my art practice. Fair Isle is full of creativity, be that fine art and craft, or in every day life. Everyone works hard and is happy to help each other out. It was time to go home for a visit. With my other half venturing with me (my Mum joining us the following day), we headed to Sumburgh to get the Good Shepherd IV for the 3 hour trip to the island…after a late departure due to high winds we made the choppy crossing over the famously rough seas.
Lower Leogh and its surrounding croft was passed over to my Mum by Jerry Stout, who lived there when I was a child. I have very fond memories of Jerry, the house and working the croft with my mum, especially during the lambing season.
We have started to renovate the traditional croft house as a family project, when finished it will have a lovely living space as well as a studio. So, with the good(ish) summer weather it was time to paint the exterior!
First though, a lot of cleaning, scraping and priming had to be done, hard work but I enjoyed the decaying textures and lichen patterns as we worked…almost a shame to get rid of them!
What a difference a lick of paint makes! It’s so lovely to see Lower Leogh looking fresh and alive again. We still have a lot of work to do, mostly on the inside, which we are steadily working through but I can’t wait for it to all be finished…mostly to start using the studio!
As is usually the case when we flew out via the tiny 8 seater ‘Islander’ plane, we got some spectacular views that made me miss Fair Isle as soon as we took off… I’m already looking forward to returning. In the mean time, work in the studio continues and its nearing time to package up all my work to send off to Newave Gallery for my solo show…exciting times ahead!