Sunday, 14 April 2013
Here's the "Aldebaran", a wooden-built Danish trawler, tramping along in fresh weather east of Sumburgh Head. She, and hundreds of others like her, used to fish around Shetland in the late 1960s and early-to-mid 1970s. In bad weather, Lerwick harbour used to fill up with these, and other Scandinavian vessels, providing a valuable feed for my almost obsessional interest in these splendid little ships.
At around 65ft in length, the "Aldebaran" was built in 1960, was just a fraction under 50grt, and was powered by an Alpha 240bhp diesel engine. According to the 1977 edition of Denmark's Fiskeri
Årbogen, she was owned by an A Bjerg of Harboøre, on the shoreside of the Nissum Bredning, which is an inlet of the large sprawling expanse of inland waterway which occupies a large part of the north-west Danish mainland. How do I know all that geographical stuff? I just looked it up in my Collins European Road Atlas, of course! I've never been to Denmark, although some of my paintings have. Regrettably they all had return tickets!
Why have I painted a Danish trawler? Well, it could have been a Norwegian whaler or great-liner, or a Swedish "bung-bung", or a larger steam trawler from Germany, Poland or France, or any one of the many types of fishing boat which could have been seen in Lerwick harbour during my formative years. The Danish trawler just appeared out of the mix somehow. I like to indulge in a bit of nostalgia now and then as regards subject-matter, and, judging by my list of commissions over the past few years, I'm far from alone in this. Many people reflect fondly on a time when boats were of a more graceful design, even if the work was back-breaking (the more so when the catches were bigger!).
The fact that this painting is of a Danish trawler is pure chance, then, and it's my entry for this year's OBA competition. I was persuaded to enter again by an old friend, who told me to "do them one of my seascapes, and put my heart and soul into it!" This is a best-can-do then, and I'll see what they make of it. My picture of Lower Voe didn't seem to trouble the judges last year, but the administrator in charge of the entries says she loves my seascape. I bet she says that to all the boys - wish me luck!
Sunday, 24 February 2013
My creative visits to this blog have beeen so few and seldom over the past year that it scarcely merits the description. I could roll out such excuses as feeling out of sorts and experiencing computer problems (both of which are true) but the fact is that, for whatever reason, my muse has been absent, and consequently so have I.
I've continued to go through the motions with my artwork, and the pre-Christmas stalls were very successful. I hope you like my Cat and Dog painting (above), which was a rush job for a wedding anniversary present. I didn't have much time to plan it properly, but I think that what I came up with just about worked. The JPEG above has exaggerated the "blueness" of it quite a bit.
I'm hoping to get a good rant together for publication here, one of these fine days. Let's face it, there's been plenty to rant about recently, and I've been going through a good few topics in my mind. Please bear with me meantime - the muse will return to me soon.
This is the second painting that I've done with a print edition in mind, prompted by requests from visitors to my Toll Clock Centre stalls (the first being the "Swan" at the back end of last year). There is still a long list of gaps in my print and greeting card "repertoire". According to the good folks who take the trouble to visit the stall, my display is the poorer for the lack of Whalsay, Burra Isle, "up nort" and Unst representation. I'll do my best to make amends in the months ahead.
The MV "St. Ninian" was the third vessel to bear that name for the North of Scotland, Orkney and Sheland Steam Navigaton Company. She was built in 1950, and ran a weekly service between Leith, Orkney and Shetland, carrying passengers and freight between these destinations. When Leith ceased to be part of the company's operations, the ship was sold to Canadian owners for further trading in the early 1970s. During the early 1980s, renamed "Bucanero", she was being used for excursions in the Galapagos Islands, but I have no knowledge of what happened to her after that. Maybe somebody out there knows?
In my painting, she is pictured approaching Lerwick harbour in fresh weather, viewed from near the Bressay lighthouse, with the Scord of Quarff and Clift hills in the background.
This commissioned painting shows the 40ft seine-netter "Pilot Us" (LK271) coming in past the Bressay Lighthouse on a fine summer's evening. This boat, built in 1931 at Fraserburgh, is now owned by Shetland Museum, after a long and successful fishing career for the Watt family of Scalloway.
I have a childhood memory of being one of a number of people standing on Blacksness Pier, Scalloway, looking at a huge skate lying on the foredeck of the "Pilot Us" - this would have been around 1960, I guess. At that time, she was one of a number of smaller fishing boats which went long-lining for better-quality fish during the summer months, the "Roost" off Sumburgh being a favourite "hunting ground" for them.