You know what makes me grumpy? All the Grumpy Old Men who appeared on the BBC TV series were younger than me, that's what makes me grumpy. Mutter, mutter....

The Grumpy Old Artist

The Grumpy Old Artist
Would YOU pose for this man???

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster
Catterline Event, 2011

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Helford River, Cornwall

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Full-riggers "Georg Stage" and "Danmark"

Other Recent Works

Other Recent Works
Fordyce Castle and Village

Hay's Dock, Lerwick

Shetland-model Boats at Burravoe, Yell

Tall Ships Seascape

The Tour Boat "Dunter III", with Gannets, off Noss

The "Karen Ann II" entering Fraserburgh harbour

Summer Evening, Boyndie Bay

1930s Lerwick Harbour

Johnshaven Harbour

"Seabourn Legend"

Greeting Cards!

Greeting Cards!
Now Available in Packs of Five or in Assorted Sets of Four

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Everyone loves a public hanging, and the main reason for my trip to the Banff area was mine, which was taking place at Duff House from Monday 22nd June. This was my first at this prestigious venue, and only my second Scottish mainland event. Never mind that my display was only in the ground-floor tea-room - one has to start somewhere. Maybe someday I will ascend that hallowed horseshoe-shaped staircase as an exhibitor.

On the appointed day, after I, the condemned man, had eaten a hearty breakfast, I met Jo Edwards, who supervisies the exhibitions programme, at 11.15am as previously arranged. As is normally the case, I had arrived far too early, and had made the acquaintance of a tree-stump, near the front of the house, to which I was to return on many occasions over the next few days, to enjoy the sunshine and have a smoke. I had a quick meeting with Jo and John Mair, who was going to be in charge of the actual hanging process, and we discussed the forthcoming event. She agreed to display the A4 Aberdeen harbour prints in the shop, and to display the Tait Gallery leaflets in the tea-room. With my main issues resolved favourably, I arranged to meet John Mair again next morning at 10am, and left, to walk back to my lodgings with a spring in my heart and a song in my step.

So, next morning, I found myself sitting on my tree-stump, surveying the Baroque mansion, designed by William Adam in 1735, and constructed over the ensuing four years - quite a short time to finish such a magnificent building, I would have thought. It was built for William Duff, Lord Braco, later the Earl of Fife, but he and the architect quarrelled, mostly over the cost, which was the then-astronomical figure of £70,000, and the 1st earl never actually stayed there.

From then until 1906, when the then Duke of Fife gifted the building to the councils of Banff and Macduff, the building had an interesting and sometimes violent history. Apparently, one Countess of Fife attempted to murder her husband, presumably because he had come into the house wearing his muddy boots, had aimed poorly in the toilet, broken wind in bed, or done some other of the things which drive wives to completely the wrong kind of distraction. If she had succeeded, would it have been earlicide?

Since 1906, it has been a hotel, a sanitorium, and accommodation for German prisoners during the second world war. It was given into the care of Historic Scotland in 1956, extensively restored, and re-opened in 1995. It is now jointly (and apparently successfully) operated by Historic Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council, as a venue for the arts.

I met John Mair, and we started to hang my paintings, by means of mirror clamps to hold them in place on boards suspended from the ceiling with chains. The walls are a warmish pale green colour, which set the pictures off well. We managed to hang 8 paintings by 11am, when the tea-room opened to the public, and we had to suspend operations. We arranged to meet again at 9.30am the next day to finish the job.

By 11am on Wednesday morning, the paintings were all hung, numbered, and the numbering altered on the price list to accommodate the hanging order we had completed. I went upstairs to the 1st floor, where artworks by such old masters as Allan Ramsay, Sir Henry Raeburn, El Greco and Cuyp are displayed, along with Chippendale furniture and other historical artistic gems. It felt good to have my work exhibited in the same building as these masterpieces.

The next day was the official opening of my exhibition. I hung around the tea-room, chatting to anyone who looked remotely interested in my efforts, of whom there seemed to be quite a few. Two people, one of whom worked in the building, mentioned that boats owned by their fathers were among those featured in my paintings (the "Silver Wave" and "Faithful Star"). This was the kind of reaction I had been hoping for, along with a few sales, of course. There were no takers on the first day, but I still have high hopes of a few red dots before the 9th of August, when the paintings are all taken down to make way for the next exhibitor.

As I sat on my tree-stump, later in the day, I reflected that, however the venture turns out financially, it has been a pleasure, honour and privilege to have my work displayed in this beautiful and historic venue. And, one never knows, they might just ask me back!

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