March 5th, 2010 Doug
Download the Hi-Arts podcast featuring an interview with Sharon and David at Two Ravens Press.
Screen shot of Hi-Arts podcast page,
“In 2006, SHARON BLACKIE and DAVID KNOWLES set up an independent publishing company called Two Ravens Press. JIM McAUSLAN travelled to their croft on the shore of Loch Broom, just outside Ullapool, to find out about this unique venture.”
Click on this link to hear the podcast
October 21st, 2008 Doug
Donald Murray’s excellent collection of poems is available from www.northidea.co.uk
August 16th, 2008 Doug
“River Tay (The Tay Whale)” 2007
“River Tay ” (detail)
May 8th, 2008 Doug
Go and take a look at the new Sporran Nation website, with fantastic designs by Highland based artist Jennifer Cantwell.
The website address is www.sporran-nation.co.uk
Go to the Sporran Nationals area of the site, and look for a strange looking man in front of Maes Howe in Orkney. Look familiar?
April 2nd, 2008 Doug
What makes me tick most?
A fine collection of poetry, such as Alan Jamieson’s above, probably does more to feed my work than anything else at the moment.
Ever since art college, my main vice has been collections of poems, and currently my studio resembles a library! I love to receive new collections and can’t wait to make the exciting journeys with the writers through their imaginations.
I enjoy working with poets on collaborations and I am currently developing ideas that will allow me to continue the experience.
I consider myself a type of poet or storyteller, though I am replacing words with images.
February 16th, 2008 Doug
Where does it all begin? With my thinking process it all starts, as usual, in the little black Moleskine notebooks. Never far from my side, and always at the ready for ideas, notes and sketches.
The contents of the books varies, depending on what I am working on at the time; lists of materials needed, quotes from books I have been reading, or working notes for the next stage of a project.
Sometimes it’s the first sketches of an idea which can spring to mind at any time, as with the notebook pages below, that were drawn at 21,000 feet on a flight back from Shetland. And the locality of where the drawings were done can bear no relationship to the images, as with the bottom pages, exploring an idea first started after a trip to the Western Isles, and drawn on the steps of the V&A in London while taking a tea-break from working with the weaver Sue Lawty.
At the moment I am in the studio spending time unravelling and editing the notebooks, choosing the important elements and developing them further in my sketchbooks. I am constantly collecting ideas and images and the working notes in my books are often in a shorthand form that only I can decipher (sometimes I even find it difficult to untangle my own witings!)
February 14th, 2008 Doug
Sitting in the studio during these long February nights, I will often turn to the bookcase and thumb through my collection of guidebooks on the Scottish islands.
While talking to a group of students about my work recently, I was asked if I had any hobbies? Normally, the answer would be that due to the all-consuming nature of producing art, you have little time for what can be described as ‘hobbies’.
Then I thought, “yes, I do have a hobby. Island Hopping!
One of the great pleasures I get from doing my work is the opportunity to travel and visit some of the beautiful islands off the Scottish coasts. I like nothing more than boarding a ferry or aircraft to make the crossing, and add a new island to my collection.
What’s interesting about them? All the islands have their own distinctive sights, colour and culture. I am currently reading through some of my favorite books, such as Hamish Haswell-Smith’s ‘The Scottish Islands’, or volumes from the David and Charles ‘Islands’ series from the sixties and seventies to whet my appetite for the trips to come.
I love finding old, well used books on my favorite subject when searching second-hand bookshops. A recent trip uncovered ‘Tramping In Arran’ and ‘The Road To Rannoch and the Summer Isles’. I particularly like to find fragments of paper or postcards written by the previous owner during their own island hop.
So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be spending some spare time planning for my next trip to the islands, revisiting a few old favorites and hopefully adding some new ones to my collection.
November 24th, 2007 Doug
crossing n. travel across water (we had a smooth crossing)
I have always loved crossings by sea, whether the short twenty minutes across the Clyde onboard the Loch Linnhe to Great Cumbrae, or the often changeable twelve hours on the Hjaltland from Aberdeen to the Auld Rock.
There is something special about the physical act of boarding a boat and sailing to islands, no matter how far. For me, I think it is about the space between the places, that distance that not only separates you physically, but also mentally and spiritually.
I am working on a sequence of new works based on the experience of crossings, trying to explore the ideas so that I can portray all aspects of the act I have mentioned above. I have been researching notes on the four different crossings from my own experience, and I am now developing them into new works.
They are all very personal in their subject matter, and I have found it difficult opening myself up to the publics view this way. Often, artists will create pieces of work that are deeply personal in subject, but manage to shield themselves through the use of symbols and metaphors. I am going to be no different, I think.
The following notes are a direct transcript of my sketchbook pages. They were written on a train journey, on the way to work at the V&A Museum in London, with weaver Sue Lawty. They may seem disjointed and erratic, but they are clearly trains of thought written at the time (no pun intended!).
Fife: Learning and growing - an empty book waiting to be filled (box?)
Whether or not aware of it, the colour of the landscape and place being absorbed, and the ground for the work has been put in place.
The river was a physical barrier to the learning/growing, having to walk what before was a great distance to the other side and explore.
Into an unknown space. Seeing it close-up, what was always only a mysterious and grey coastline.
Being on the outside looking in, seeing your world from a different viewpoint. Walking on a new shore, with new colours and details. Able to distance yourself and see things clearer.
*Initial journey that is still ongoing and you need to go back and stand on that shore and look across the river to the skyline and sea.
Mull: Crossing over to an island to re-collect and re-build yourself (in theory) finding yourself and your space again.
Strange contradiction of needing to recharge, and at the same time bringing energy and thinking to the space, open to experiences.
Being welcomed by Ravens, accompanying the boat. Finding the true you, doing all of the things that make you tick.
The beauty and space from sitting on the cliff-top at Crackaig, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean to Iona, Staffa, Tiree etc. Strong sense of ‘place’, soul food.
Being allowed, or given time and space to be doing, finding yourself, in your space.
Lewis: Going with empty, or fragmented boxes. Grey rainy shore, heading into wide sea crossing, with uncertain weather conditions.
Crossing over and loosing sight of land, surrounded only by sea, port and starboard.
Questioning work/image/motives. Open, clean, remote landscape. Not bleak, truly wild. Helping to find links between what I want to achieve and previous. Helping me to find out what I am, in the wider picture.
This crossing made my longing for this landscape and the sea crossings more evident, ‘cianalas’ as they say on the Long Island.
This was a crossing in more than just a physical sense, it was a strong change in direction both mentally and working.
Great Cumbrae: A most difficult area. The ‘haven’.
Using the short distance of water to shut off your being. Again using this space to renew yourself and to be in the place that suits you the best. Finding your ‘haven’, a safe harbour.
Similar to the Fife work, close enough to look back. Crossing over tight and tied up, bound by forces that need to be loosened and removed. Unhealthy and restrictive.
The crossing, though short, is enough distance to do this. Walking to the bay, the pilgrimage to your to your sanctuary, is great for removing any remaining bindings.
Being welcomed by birds calling, the wind, and the waves shaping the beach, and reshaping me.