Monthly Archives: April 2014

50 Paintings of Eigg Series No. 20

Eigg Series No. 20. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 20. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

detailA peaceful wave in the rain on Singing Sands Bay. The rain was very light so there was a lovely soft glow over everything. I usually use gesso for a semi opaque rainy haze.

So far I’ve painted scenes of Eigg but as yet no details of the flora and fauna of the island, so at sometime in the next week or so I’ll introduce you to my good friend, and traveling companion to Eigg, Donald Ferguson, who took some beautiful photographs of stones, rocks and sand.

Donald also adopted a rock from the Singing Sands Bay which is now attached to a steel cable and swings gently above a large window in his house. I’m sure he can be persuaded to post a video of it, with the view of Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat in the background!

In the meantime here’s an incidental in front of the cliffs of Cleadale, left behind by a glacier millions of years ago..

P1090474

 

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series No. 19

Eigg Series No. 19. Acrylic and ink on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 19. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

P1100792Today’s painting, another view of the mountains of Rum from Laig Bay.

It’s a busy time at the moment but in a few days I’ll be posting more about Eigg. It’s had a troubled history; Viking invasions and Norse occupation, then the increasing greed of landowners which forced many people to emigrate, followed by Highland Clearances.

Poor Eigg, but It’s a story repeated across Scotland of course, and it’s only in recent decades that the Highlands and West Coast of Scotland have seen an improvement in land management. As mentioned in my post on Day 18, Eigg has developed even further, with the community buy out and the renewable energy system supplying the island 24 hours a day.

One of the best documentary series I’ve watched about Scotland’s landscape and history was by Dr Iain Stewart (described by the Scottish Herald as ‘the James Bond of geology’…). Normally he’s in teaching-schools-mode and can be somewhat wearisomely enthusiastic, but he’s very amusing in this series and it’s quite magical..

(Part 1 of 5 documentaries – all 5 can be found on You Tube)..

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series No. 18

Eigg Series No. 18. Acrylic and ink on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 18. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

P1100768Laig Bay and the mountains of Rum in ink, acrylic and varnish.

Mountains always look so other worldly when viewed from across the sea – like a mystical land. But I have visited Rum, back in the mists of time – as a teenager. Even as a somewhat grumpy 13 year old I appreciated the beauty of the island, but had my first experience of the mid-July Highland midge. Dealing with them requires spray repellants with an intense synthetic lemon/oven-cleaner aroma, or a midge head net/bed-net. Or failing that, calm acceptance that this mass hoard of miniature vampires has its rightful place in the ecosystem.

The key is to avoid inland water areas, especially bogs or marshland, seek breezy coastal areas or higher ground and avoid exposure at dusk when they’re most active!

 

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series No. 17

Eigg Series. No 17. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 17. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood (Not for sale)

Today’s painting – one of Eigg’s many primroses…P1100748

These cheerful spring wild-flowers are in abundance on the island and seem an appropriate choice for today’s subject; the 1996 community buy out of Eigg, which earned world-wide renown in the late 90s as an example of positive and successful land reform

Every year the Eigg community celebrates the buy-out with an anniversary Ceilidh, it means a lot to islanders, and it’s an inspiring story. So I decided to get in touch with Maggie Fyffe, Administrator of the Eigg Heritage Trust, to find out more …

Maggie Fyffe

Photograph © Keith Brame

Rose: Hi Maggie, When I arrived on Eigg this year, it was only when I chatted with Lucy Conway that I realised we were staying in your bothy and you were just across the road! But after a few days on the island you realise what a close-knit, friendly community it is.

I recently read your article which described the difficult conditions Eigg dwellers found themselves in before the community buy out in 1996, and looking at the island now, it’s difficult to believe (considering it was 1996 not the 18th century!) just how difficult life had become for islanders.

So firstly, some would say that living on a remote island could be a challenging lifestyle. How did you first come to the island, and what made you want to move to Eigg?

Maggie: We were living on the east coast but had always wanted to live on the west coast. We were involved with a craft workshop near Portsoy – Keith Schellenberg visited & expressed his interest in setting up something similar on Eigg – he offered us a job & the rest is history! (that was 1976)

Rose: Can you tell me what you do now on Eigg?

Maggie: I’m employed by Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust as administration secretary. This involves doing accounts & paperwork for IEHT and its 3 subsidiary companies, Eigg Trading, Eigg Construction & Eigg Electric. I’m also voluntary treasurer for Eigg Residents Association & Eigg Community Hall.

R: Can you tell me a little more about that time back then, how was it for islanders and what were the issues they faced?

M: Most of the indigenous islanders lived on crofts so had security but anyone working for the estate lived in a tied cottage & felt insecure

R: What was it that made islanders distrust or become frustrated with landowners over the years, can you give a few examples of their approach to caring for the island?

M: It’s hard to explain – but mostly because of the unwillingness to grant leases on houses & businesses. One catalyst was (Landowner) Keith Schellenberg trying to evict the Carr family (who had five children) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust warden, John Chester – the community was in agreement that we couldn’t let that happen.

This was followed by Maruma (the second landowner) purchasing the island; after the initial reaction of “cautiously optimistic” it soon became apparent that he didn’t have the money to make the improvements he’d suggested

R: What would you say was the turning point from hoping landowners might live up to promises, to deciding to go it alone as a community?

M: Although it had been talked about – the turning point came when the original Eigg Trust (a group of 4 people connected to Eigg with an interest in land reform) brought their ideas for a buy out for the community’s consideration. A vote of all residents was held with the result of a big majority in favour of supporting this.

R: What was the response to that decision, from landowners, other trusts and the media in general?

M: We had some negative press but in the main, we received a lot of support from the media

R: I’ve read that the the island was valued at 2 million. How did you build support for your bid to buy the island as a community, and how was money raised?

M: We received somewhere in the region of 10,000 donations from members of the general public (only £17K was received from public bodies) including one donation of £1m!

R: Can you tell me a bit about the bidding process, the outcome and how you and the islanders felt after the result?

M: In November 96, our initial bid of £1.2m (based on an independent valuation & all the money we had raised) was rejected as it didn’t reach the £2m asking price. We carried on fundraising & by the following March, we decided to submit a further bid of £1.5m – this was what Maruma had paid for the island & we were unwilling to exceed this amount on principle.

It was at this point that we discovered that Maruma had defaulted on a loan & his creditors had taken over the sale. After a nerve-racking week, they eventually accepted our offer on 4th April 97 and islanders were jubilant!

R: Would you say there’s a definite difference in Eigg since the buy out?

M: It’s the difference between night & day. To name but a few…all trust properties now have long term tenants (with long term leases) and 3 farms also have appropriate leases. 7 houses have been renovated. We have built An Laimhrig which houses a shop, tearoom, craft shop all of which are leased to residents to run as their own business. We have initiated an ongoing forestry project with all the work being done by local folk.

We have installed an award winning renewable energy system which with 24 hour power has improved life no end. And the population has increased from 63 in 1997 to 96 in 2014 with a lot of our young folk moving back to live.

R: Lastly, would you say the experience changed you as a person? If so in what ways?

M: I used to be a craft worker & would never have guessed that I would end up being an admin secretary ~ a job that can be quite taxing at times but incredibly rewarding ~ every day is different. You’ll maybe need to ask someone else about how I’ve changed but I’m incredibly proud of what the community here has achieved…

R: Thank you Maggie for sharing the inspiring story of Eigg’s community buy out. And (though I’m over a decade late in saying this!); congratulations to the islanders on all they’ve achieved for the island and its inhabitants.

In the next few weeks I’ll post more information about the island moving to renewable, environmentally friendly energy..

And lastly – for further reading about Eigg and the Hebrides, a book by Alastair McIntosh ‘Soil and Soul – People Versus Corporate Power‘ is available Here

16 paintings of Eigg (34 to go!)

Hello everyone and thank you for viewing the Eigg series which I’m painting from the 10th April to the 29th May

Also, sincere thanks to the people who have bought some of the paintings (this will help fund the next stage of the Eigg project throughout the year) I hope you enjoy the paintings!

Below is a round-up of all available paintings so far. These are all 5×5 inches, £45 each (including postage), and have a small hook attached to the back. (If you would like a fine art print of these at double the size (10×10 inch giclee print) these are £38 including postage).

Feel free to email me with any queries at rose.strang@gmail.com

Many thanks for your interest, and to Eigg Box and The Small Isles for the facebook shares and likes!

Available paintings:

(to find out more about the paintings, simply click on ‘Home’ and scroll down the previous blog posts)

Ink and acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No. 16. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

Eigg Series. No 14. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 14. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

Eigg Series. No. 13. Ink, gesso and varnish on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No. 13. Ink, gesso and varnish on 5×5″ wood

Eigg Series. No. 8. Ink, sand and acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No. 8. Ink, sand and acrylic on 5×5″ wood

Eigg Series. No 8. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 8. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5×5″ wood

Eigg Series. No 6. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 6. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eigg Series No 4. Acrylic on 5x4 inch wood

Eigg Series No 4. Acrylic on 5×4 inch wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following paintings have sold:

Eigg Series. No 15. Acrylic and ink on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 15. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood (Reserved)

Eigg Series. No. 12. Acrylic on 5x5 " wood

Eigg Series. No. 12. Acrylic on 5×5 ” wood (Sold)

Eigg Series. No. 10. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No. 10. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5×5″ wood (Sold)

Eigg Series No 9. Acrylic and ink on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No 9. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood (Sold)

Eigg Series. No 5. Acrylic on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 5. Acrylic on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink and varnish on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink and varnish on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 1. Acrylic and ink on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No. 16

Eigg Series. N. 16

Eigg Series. No. 16. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

P1100712Today’s painting – a view of Laig Bay and its silver/white sands. This was one of those days when I struggled to paint and despite years of painting it never seems to be in my control!

 

On some days it’s almost as though every stroke of paint adds something to the painting, while on others every brush stroke detracts, so I worked on three at the same time, the thinking being that one at least would work!

Having enjoyed the way ink stains gesso, today that effect was driving me mad and the sands of Laig Bay stubbornly refused to turn silver/white. Solution – cover it in varnish, blast it with a hairdryer and start again. Such are the minor challenges in my day.

Off the topic of Eigg somewhat, but still on the subject of painting – last night I was excited to see there was an excellent documentary ‘The Madness of Vermeer’ (BBC iplayer or catch up BBC4). Utterly fascinating and a revelation to discover just how chaotic and traumatic his life was.

Of the classic artists Vermeer is without doubt my favourite – and the Northern Renaissance in general, probably because it’s a light I understand, having lived in the north.

But also for the same reason others love Northern Renaissance art – the sense of utter stillness; so at odds with the chaos of Vermeer’s life. It seems that he spent a lifetime trying to capture in paint the ideal conditions of peace that eluded him all his short life.

Poring over Vermeer’s work in loving detail, presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon pointed out the deliberate rough edges amongst the perfected brushwork, which catch the eye and reflect light. Also the use of sand to capture light (at least I’m doing something Vermeer-esque!).

It was the conclusion of the documentary that so moved me, I won’t paraphrase and will just add this link for your viewing pleasure! –

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0074pym/Secret_Lives_of_the_Artists_The_Madness_of_Vermeer/

And a photograph of a Laig Bay wave in nothern light..

P1090245

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No. 15

Eigg Series. No 15. Acrylic and ink on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 15. Acrylic and ink on 5×5″ wood

P1100676

Today’s painting – an impression of Laig Bay, with wave and mountain. This line and shape is making an indelible impression on my brain and possibly I’ll develop it onto large canvas for upcoming exhibitions. These will be in June at Gallery Ten and in July at Whitespace. Lots of painting to do!

 

The interior of Cuagach Bothy, very cosy

P1090322

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a standing stone looking east..

P1090672