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

Sunday, 28 August 2011


The Northern Isles of the UK are being buffetted by bad weather again.  This morning I happened to be listening to Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme, to which an Orkney resident had phoned indignantly, protesting at the coverage given to the American hurricane, while Orkney was being blasted by 80mph winds (which were not even being mentioned!) on this side of the pond.  It's not quite as bad as that in Shetland, but it's still a lively envoi to what has been a dismal summer up here.  The Tall Ships Shetland visit, the Walls Show, the Scalloway Gala and several cruise ship visits are just some of the events which were either wiped out or badly affected by adverse weather conditions this summer.

As yet not weather-affected has been the artistic output from the Tait Gallery.  This week, I've been working on two fishing boat pictures destined for the Catterline exhibition.  Both pictures feature the Bressay Lighthouse, but from completely different angles. One is an aerial view of the Aberdeen trawler "Leswood" heading for sea in heavy weather, the other is from a more lowly viewpoint, of the Fraserburgh motor drifter "Girl Pat" coming in to land her night's catch.  I'll be doing more in a similar vein over the next 6 weeks or so, and I may be recycling a few older works to make up numbers for this event.

I've put the Stonehaven painting (featured on last week's post) in for scanning, with a view to featuring it on the posters for the Catterline exhibition.  I'm starting to make lists of things which will come with me (and it's still more than two months away!) - picture wire, cutters, split rings and blue-tack will be vital.  I've begun to think about gallery labels for the paintings, and I've bought sheets of coloured card for use in their manufacture.  My sister Mary (in charge of transport) and I were discussing the trip over lunch last Wednesday.  As a direct response to last week's post, I now have another volunteer to help with the hanging - that's a full lynch mob now!  The power of social media, eh?

For a few months now, I've ben racking my poor befuddled brains for a suitable exhibition title.  All that I could come up with is "The North Sea, The Mearns and Other Scenes".  I know that this is prosaic in the extreme - exactly what it says on the tin, so to speak.  But it's the best I can come up with, and it is typical of me - prosaic, pedantic and pathetic!

On Friday I was delighted by the smiling face of my niece Elanor Gunn beaming out from a page of the Shetland Times.  She had graduated from the RSAMD with a first class honours degree in violin performance, and my mother was so pleased and proud to see her grand-daughter's photograph in the paper she has read and supported for nearly a century.  We're still somewhat mystified by the same paper's non-publication of Elanor's earlier, and equally remarkable, achievement of being appointed leader of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.  Her tenure of this position came to an end earlier this year, but the distinction is none the less.

On a much sadder note, my first cousin Don Leslie lost a long battle with illness earlier this week and, on Tuesday, I'll be going to what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest funerals Lerwick has known during my lifetime.  My deepest sympathy goes to Marion, Richard, John and all the other family members.

At times like these, the words from "Maunsie's Crรถ", by Basil R J Anderson, come to my mind:

Da years geed by as aye dir geen
Da winter white, da simmer green
Da voar aye saan, da hairst aye shoarn
Aye someen deed, aye someen boarn

Sunday, 21 August 2011


As I reflect on a week in which the sun has shone often and long on my beloved islands (a pity it didn't do so earlier in the summer!), I do so with a degree of satisfaction for a number of reasons.  My mother received her long-awaited and much needed visit from the chiropodist before returning home from her fortnight's respite care at the Wastview Care Centre at Walls.  I was at Whiteness to greet her and help her settle in again, and if we can get another long-term issue, that of her footwear, resolved, then things might not be too bad for her.  Of course there are still problems with her ears, her eyes and what she believes to be an inoperable (due mainly to the fact that she's 95 with severe mobility problems) hernia, but, for now, we'll accept getting her feet comfortable at least.

Since my last posting, I lost another friend with the passing of John Gray at Lerwick.  His funeral took place in the driving rain (which also practically wiped out the Walls agricultural show!) of Saturday 13th August, and I was unable to attend because of a previous arrangement I'd made with my sister Thelma to do a little work at Brugarth, Whiteness, in preparation for our mother's homecoming.  John, who was a year or two older than me, pursued a career, as many Shetlanders did, "deep sea" as an able seaman in the merchant navy, until ill health forced him to come ashore in the 1980s.  He was a big man, with a forthright nature and manner, who detested bovine ordure in all its forms.  I always enjoyed his company whenever we met in the "Lower Lounge" at Lerwick, and I shared his pedantic take on the pitiful output of today's educationally-deprived and electronically-misinformed society.  Even though I rarely go to the pub these days, I, along with many others, will miss his larger-than-life presence around town.

I hope you like my painting of Stonehaven (above).  Two of the rooms in the Ship Inn (the white building on the right) will be occupied by my sister Mary and myself on the nights of 6th and 7th November, while we attend to the hanging of my exhibition at the Creel Inn, Catterline (a few miles south of there), which will be opening, if all goes well, on Tuesday 8th.

I've spent a lot of time these last two weeks organising and collating accurate quotations from various suppliers (of framing, ferry passages, posters and such essentials) in order to get a grant application, for some of the exhibition's costs, prepared.  This went off in the post on Thursday morning, and I was very glad to see the back of it!  The funding body is the Shetland Islands Council's Economic Development Unit, and I'm very grateful to them for their help with this project and several others in the past.  Unfortuantely the Unit does not help with mainland accommodation costs, but, when I think of the alternatives with regard to transporting an exhibition of paintings to an off-island venue, I do not consider a couple of nights' hotel residency an extravagance.

Now all I have to do is produce ten more paintings over the next two months (I've started work on four of them already) to make up the display numbers.  And no-one can help me with that!  Have a nice week!

Sunday, 7 August 2011


I reached the almost invisible milestone of 63 years of age on 16th July, and, with the inevitability which attends man's attempts to administer the unmanageable, my mother turned 95 exactly a fortnight later, on Saturday 30th.  It was a good day for a party, if nothing else.  This summer is going down as one of the gloomiest on record!

Two afternoons before this momentous day dawned, I was walking along Lerwick's Hillhead, thinking of my mother and her forthcoming birthday, when the notion struck me - quite suddenly and violently - to nip into George Robertson's electrical goods shop to take a look at their selection of TVs.  (I should explain here that Mum's current TV screen, at that time, was 22", which was really too small for the size of her living room.  She was having difficulty distinguishing the Gs from the Qs on Countdown.)  In the shop, I was pleasantly surprised to see a 32" job, with all the channels and technostuff which Mum would be capable or desirous of using, for less than £300.  I checked its availability with one of the shop staff, went home in a state of breathless excitement and contacted all of my siblings regarding their views on a birthday present from the five of us jointly.  They were all enthusiastic about the idea.

My sister Mary and I visited the same shop next day, bought the set, and off it went in the boot of Mary's Urban Cruiser (it just fitted!).  The following day, all of us who were within a car journey's distance gathered at Whiteness to celebrate Mum's special occasion.  My niece Caroline's husband David did the installation of the new set, while the rest of us kept Mum's attention diverted in the kitchen.  She is delighted with her present, and we all wish her many happy days to enjoy it.

As pleased as she is with her new telly, a visit from the chiropodist would have delighted her even more.  The NHS has been letting her down badly in the foot-repair department, a representative of which last paid her a call in February.  Her severe mobility problems are not improved by this neglect, and I have witnessed her practically pleading with a telephone answering service for some much-needed attention to her feet.  It breaks my heart to see her suffering this way, and, if I try to intervene on her behalf, I run up against the bollard of patient confidentially, which the NHS use both as a blunt weapon and a shield against any inconvenient treading on of their own bunions.  My mother is 95, for heaven's sake, and not as well-equipped for bureaucracy-battling as she once was.  All she wants and deserves now is a chance to live out her remaining days on this earth in as pain-free a peace as possible.  However - as my late Dad used to say, there's more than one way to skin a cat, and most of these methods involve constructive letter-writing.  Let's see, who can I write to about this?.........

I heard of another significant date (aside from birthdays) last week, namely that of my my exhibition at the Creel Inn, Catterline.  I have now had the long-awaited confirmation that my paintings will be on display there during the months of November and December, and the space will be available sometime in the first week of November.  I hope to hang on either Sunday 6th or Monday 7th.  My sister Mary, who is doing the driving, is hoping for the former date, and my nephew Kenneth, whose help was invaluable during the last Creel Inn hanging in early 2008. will be off work that day to assist.  Everyone loves a good hanging!

Now, I have to get Tay-CAD to do some quality posters for me, and I need to get some decent framing from the mainland.  An advert in the Press & Journal wouldn't hurt (except for my bank balance) and I have fares and accommodation to sort out.  There's a grant aid form to fill in.  Oh, and there's the small matter of getting a dozen more paintings done over the next three months!

Have a nice week!