Highland Rake



The mid-term break was grey, wet and cold so I decided that the children could do with a dose of culture at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Although they were not excited at the prospect, they enjoyed the visit. I was bemused by some of the artist statements, wondering whether they are taught how to write enigmatically at art school. I was impressed by the range of the collections. There were several famous Impressionist and Pre-Raphaelite artists’ works as well as pieces by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. I was still fuming after a phone call with a representative of the Scottish Arts Council that had started encouragingly regarding artist travel grants. It ended quite quickly after I explained that my exhibition involves textiles and I was informed that this puts me in the “craft” category for which there is no current funding. I constantly find this distinction between Art and Craft infuriating. I appreciate skill and technique in any medium. I wonder what William Morris and his followers would have made of the separation of his key principles. I have been asked to write an article about the Yurt with regard to “Form & Structure” by C June Barnes for a chapter in a forthcoming book. I will try to write a suitable piece that is esoteric enough for the subject but that is not incomprehensible arty drivel. Before I am bombarded by emails from incensed artists, let me say that I daresay that most of them are perfectly sensible, creative people who do not usually wear smocks and berets while smoking French cigarettes. Admittedly, I did not meet anybody like that at the North East Open Studios AGM. I have decided to join NEOS this year and will open my studio for a week in September.

I worked away at drafting and typing projects for the Yurt book. I had to calculate the yardage for each project and check that I was giving the correct sizes for each unit. I will pass the notes on to some quilter friends to proof-read when I have sketched out some accompanying diagrams. I am still not completely satisfied with the precision of some of the joins in my Celtic Drunkard’s Path piece. I was lent a book on “Piecelique” by Sharon Schamber that offered another method of dealing with curves then discovered that there are several books on the subject on Amazon and I wondered why I had made myself figure it out by trial and error. My inaccuracies were probably caused by the loosely woven fabrics and in the end I decided that some antler buttons could be used to disguise them.

I investigated how I could print my blog out in book form since it would be useful to flick back and pick out references to the Yurt for the book. If I had used Blogger from the beginning then it would be relatively easy to “slurp” the entire blog into a publishing website but my website based blog is not recognised. I spent a very long time figuring ways around this and even worked out how to export it all BUT still got stuck with an error code. As a distraction I also became an electric guitar online-buying geek, shopping around for a full sized guitar for Fergus, reading reviews and watching demo clips on YouTube!

Mo and I went on a jaunt to see Yurtman, Paul Spencer, at the edge of The Highlands near Balmoral. We drove along the very scenic South Deeside Road all the way. The sun was glimmering on the birch trees despite the leaden sky. He was working on 5 yurts in various stages of construction. He has a large yurt that he rents out as a weekend retreat. It has an outdoor shower with a twisted birch branch as a rustic door handle. He has agreed to be interviewed for my book when he is less busy. He let me have a length of sturdy green canvas to make a waterproof bag for the Yurt to travel on the Landy roofrack. We stopped in Ballater to look for antler buttons but none of the shops had any. We each ended up buying something trendy to wear in a boutique then were advised to try the charity shop for buttons. I didn’t get any buttons but ended up buying a 15 metre roll of hand printed linen that I could use for bedroom curtains. I’ll just have to redecorate the room to match the fabric!


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