Sunday, 5 August 2018

solo exhibition - in a lighthouse, on an island!


How to get there - at bottom of this post.




the exhibition:

flight studies, 7th June
pencil, c.15x21cm
£150



flight studies, 6th June
pen, c.15x21cm
£150



(hidden on reverse of) flight studies, 6th June



razorbill on egg, Main Light cameo
pencil, c.15x21cm
£150



shag studies, 7th April
pencil, c.15x21cm
£100



yellow ring, black letters
pencil, c.15x21cm
£100



razorbill & Bass Rock
pencil, c.15x21cm
£150



incubating eider
pencil, c.15x21cm
£150



puffin studies (2)
pencil, 16.5x35cm
£180



Altarstanes to Bass Rock
ink, c.35x18cm
£400



at Lady's Bed
ink, c.35x15cm
£350



Greenface, razorbills watching me
ink, 35x18cm
£400



looking to Bass Rock
ink, 24x28cm
£400



Altarstanes in the rain
watercolour pencil & watercolour, 24x28.5cm
£400



Fluke Street & South Horn,
island moon
watercolour, c.16x35cm
£450



North Horn, looking to Fife
watercolour, c.16x35cm
£450



South Horn & East Lothian coast
watercolour, 15x21cm
£350



where swallows nest
(old lightkeepers' washhouse)
watercolour, 14x14cm
£300



hider eider
watercolour, 15x21cm
£350



Holyman's Road
watercolour, 15x21cm
£350



Low Light, where we stay
watercolour, 15x21cm
£350



island moon
watercolour, 15x21cm
£300



razorbill sundown
watercolour, 15x21cm
£350



razorbill, Isle of May
watercolour, 15x21cm
£400



Isle of May puffin
watercolour, 15x21cm
£400



South Horn, 4th June
watercolour, 24x28cm
£400



sheltering in South Horn
watercolour, 24x28cm
£400



giant's sentry box
watercolour, 34x15cm
£450



Pilgrim's Haven
watercolour, 34x15.5cm
£550



the lighthouse:











How to get there:

from Anstruther

from North Berwick




island links:

more exhibition pics plus follow the SNH Isle of May blog 


SNH National Nature Reserve

Isle of May Bird Observatory

CEH Isle of May seabird research



Fluke Street, South Horn, moon... from top of Main Light having just finished hanging the exhibition.
- Thank you Maurizio!


Sunday, 22 July 2018

Scotland By Rail - Bass Rock, North Berwick -150,000 gannets



Nature and landscape are what I'm all about, I've lived close to the Forth all my life, I've visited North Berwick lots, seabirds are a particular inspiration ever since beginning my stays on the Isle of May, so why on earth had I never been out to the Bass Rock? I don't know but it's sorted now.

The Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick harbour runs trips to the Bass on many days through the year. You can't land except under special circumstances (for example, spend a lot of money) but £22 gets you an hour or so of boat ride around Craigleith island (puffins, razorbills, guillemots, gulls) then around the Bass Rock (gannets up to 150,000 of them). It costs less if you're a child, or free if you're under three, which Oren is.

The boat is good, seating is under a perspex roof or fully in the open. We chose the latter for maximum thousands-of-gannets-wheeling-over-your-head impact. If you sit at the rear the thrum of the engine combined with loudspeaker human commentary and loud gannet commentary means hardly anyone hears how much your baby isn't enjoying his first time on a boat.

We were three Scots and three Italians - Silvana, Maurizio and Marco who I'd been sketching, painting, photographing and making banana jokes with on the Isle of May for the past week.

We were missing island life so we travelled with Jennifer and Oren to North Berwick by train, 40 minutes to Edinburgh, 8 minutes to change, 35 minutes to North Berwick. All went to plan, Oren loves trains much more than boats.

*** See end of this post for Seabird Centre via ScotRail Offers ***


From North Berwick station it's a fifteen minute walk along High Street or shore to the Scottish Seabird Centre. We chose the shore, nice sunny day at the seaside...


Sea haar. Unexpected but totally atmospheric and not stopping people having fun on the beach, some in bikinis (the Italians were very impressed).


outdoor bathing

Scottish Seabird Centre

Arctic Tern by Geoffrey Dashwood (unveiled by one of The Two Ronnies

King Penguin Group by George R. Graham


Secretly some of us hoped the fog would stay but as we sat having lunch in the Seabird Centre cafe the sun broke through and the Bass suddenly appeared a couple of miles to the east.





Before the boat we looked around the very good Seabird Centre shop, the ruins of a possibly 7th Century chapel, the harbour and rocky headland. There were no bananas but there was a brilliant patch of wildflower planting on the steps to the harbour. Only a few square metres but containing around thirty species of flowering plants native to the local coastline, some no longer found there because of over-foraging. I saw no butterflies but there were bumblebees aplenty and at least ten Silver Y moths zipping among the flowers. Silver-Ys are day fliers unlike the majority of moths. If more of us would plant little wildflower patches like this, what a difference we could make.




Onto the boat. Craigleith. Then the Bass. I find it hard to know how to describe in words the sight, the sound, the smell of the world's largest colony of Northern gannets. The island is now de-vegetated, almost every possible part colonised by these shining white, black wing-tipped, 6ft-wingspanned seabirds. The colours are sea and sky plus shades of monochrome, lots white of course, and the warmly off-white ochre of gannet head and gannet guano. The island cliffs rise sheer from the waves, exactly as I remember from circumnavigating Stac Lee and Stac an Armin, St Kilda, on a National Trust for Scotland cruise some years ago with my friend Chris. See Chris' book about life as a schoolteacher on the also-remote island of Foula -




Tantallon Castle









So much to take in and the boat constantly bobbing so I hadn't much time to sketch or photograph or binocular. Probably best would have been to simply stare but instead I tried to do all these things, plus comfort not wholly happy baby. I got the scrappy sketches you've just seen done then made sure when we got home to work up larger drawings to keep the scenes in my mind. Hopefully one day I'll turn them into larger canvasses. I say that about a lot of my sketches.








and a few photos:








Fascinating blog of a PhD on Bass Rock gannets

The status of the Gannet in Scotland in 2013–14 - Scottish Birds journal, 3-18




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How to get there

Trains to North Berwick take 35 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley 

See 'Lothian and The Borders - Glasgow - Edinburgh - North Berwick/Dunbar' timetable and 'Buy Tickets' on ScotRail website.




*** Seabird Centre ScotRail Offers ***

Get 2 for 1 entry to seabird Centre when you show a valid ScotRail ticket for the day, until end of 2018

One child goes free when you show Kids Go Free train ticket or Club 50 Smartcard


Many thanks to ScotRail for enabling and supporting my ongoing Scotland by Rail work.