Monday, 2 May 2011
THE END OF A LONG AND WINDING ROAD
On the way to Nibon, we passed the end of the side-road which leads downhill to the isolated croft of Gunnister, which stands near the head of the voe of the same name, while on the other side of the valley is the other hamlet of Ennisfirth, access to which is by another side-road leading from a more northerly turn-off from the main road north. Perhaps the most remarkable thing I noticed about this area is the complete lack of new buildings (apart from the holiday chalets), which have been springing up aplenty in other parts of the islands over the last few decades. And another thing - that road must be the devil's own to negotiate in wintry conditions!
The trip north was the result of my contract to supply the St Magnus Bay Hotel with a series of paintings on the theme of the North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company's relationship with this area (and former ownership of the hotel). I had consulted my OS map and, according to that, the best vantage point for getting a photograph of the Ness of Hillswick (which the ships would have had to pass on their way to and from the anchorage in the bay opposite the hotel) would be the end of the Nibon road. I bribed my sister with the promise of a meal in the hotel's restaurant (which does an excellent carvery on Sundays), booked our table, and off we set yesterday. The photographic part of the mission was reasonably successful, the meal was excellent, and we delivered the five paintings which represent the first completed works in a series of many for this impressive establishment. We took the paintings to the first-floor drawing room, which is a spacious and grand affair, and I feel good about having an association with this splendid and historically significant building. I wish the new owners every success in their venture.
The commission is also a long and winding road, of which the end is yet nowhere near in sight, and I have somehow to fulfil this along with my Catterline exhibition. As far as I know, I still have to produce the latter for sometime around the beginning of November, although I have yet to hear anything from them about actual dates. I hope to get these soon. More on the St. Magnus Bay Hotel commission, and the two historical incidents which are connected to this place, and which I have been asked to portray on canvas, in the near future. Enjoy your week!