Mind Blown!

If you don't like rocks just skip this post. It all about rocks.  

We first went to a place called Walligoe steps...365 rock steps down to a harbour, where the herring boats would come in.   The  story goes the women would walk up the steps with a basket of herring on there back after having cleaned them and then walk the 9 miles to Wick, the closest city while knitting socks on their walk.... And I think my day is bad when my car won"t start!  Oh to be a cow and have this view all day 

 

Then we were off to Sarklet  beach...another natural fishing harbour, when the herring used to run. The seals or Silkies and legend has it came in to investigate all the noise on the beach, but they were to far out for my i phone to capture.

 

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at the end of the day we went to Girnigoe castle, apparently one of many owned by the Stewarts.

I wish the stones could talk!

 

Sheligo Beach

I have no clue if I am spelling that correctly, but what a morning.  Every step was another breath taking sight

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There was a house built on this site at one time. Bits of the foundation remain.  I can imagine being nestled in these hills, the smell and sound of the sea and the view....

It is so easy to dream of a different life here, and put yourself in a different time... 

The images do more than the words can ever do.

Aberdeen

So we actually left Aberdeen yesterday.  But what a beautiful city. Grey large stone buildings everywhere...gothic, elegant, grand, absolutely stunning.  Graveyards in the middle of the city, so much more a part of everyday life, so interesting.

Caught up with an old friend...well, really she is not that old, but a beautiful soul,  who manages to bring me joy at every turn.  She is living in this beautiful fisherman's cottage that used to be a  fishing village. 

Behind her house is the most gorgeous beach. A huge expanse of  sand with the smell of the sea and the sound of the waves. Off shore I counted 19 oil tankers on the horizon waiting to be called in.  Apparently docking is 10,000 pounds a day. Amazing the world wide impact oil has had.  

 Another  amazing sight is children getting off the train in the morning in their school uniforms.  All in ties and school blazers and kilts ... quite  a site. Children of all ages in their school uniforms, bantering back and forth,  on and off the train. Really independent. Really an amazing sight.

 

Monday...

So sorry that I have missed a few days!  I have been to the amazing Northlands Glass Conference here in Edinburgh....

it was at Edinburgh College of Art ...and oh how I love schools...and old schools at that...simply fabulous!  3 Opening in 3 days ...simply amazing

So some of the most amazing work at the Dovecot Gallery. Artists who had been at Northlands over the 20 years.   and Then this installation at St Marys' Church curated by the amazing Paul Musgrove.     I think the images do more than my words can.  

The uncool part of our Saturday was that I had just asked my friend to wait a minute as we got out of the cab at St Mary's church, so I could grab a photo of the doors.   Waiting to go into the exhibition above we were suddenly aware of tires squealing behind us ( I froze) and a car piled into a balustrade beside us. All 4 young men got out quickly and safely from the car, but it really shook us up.   Sometimes I am not sure I am meant to travel!

Shopping and grant writing today ...  Off to Aberdeen tomorrow!

 

 

 

Stairs

Every where I go here there are stairs...thankfully and annoyingly......  Old beautiful buildings didnt have elevators, they had stairs.  Maybe because of this older people in this country just get on with it and climb.  If you want to attend a lecture , up you go.  My hotel has 44 stairs to my room and with 2 maximum weight suitcases and a back pack it is not fun.   But you do it if you want to have  room.  Maybe we all have it too easy, in North America.  Not  sure, but thinking....

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Edinburgh!

What a day!  Sunshine, fantastic, intelligent conversations, and shopping...oh and some fabulous food at Jamie Olivers' restaurant. 

So I arrived yesterday and met a girlfriend who I will be staying with for a while. We are here for the North Lands Glass Conference 2016 and it is off to an amazing start with a show this evening with the Scottish Glass Society along with and artist talk.  Always nice to hear about someones process and see some amazing new work.  Some really amazing talented artists here.   

This morning we went to Gallery 10 and spoke with Paul Musgrove and he shared many amazing stories with us and showed us some of the most fantastic work. If you are ever in Edinburgh please make the effort to stop in, it is an amazing gallery.

We were then fortunate enough to have lunch with some glass enthusiast about glass in Canada. Some bright and witty conversation, all around!

On our walk home we went to Grass Market and I found my favourite used clothing shop...got some great deals!

 

 

Uggghhhhhh!

Because the next few days will be at a Glass Conference in Edinburgh http://www.northlandsglass.com/conference/   I spent the morning getting caught up with paper work...which makes me quite grumpy when I am in a  such a fantastic city ...but i did manage to get out for the afternoon, walk and enjoy the sights.  I think part of why I love it here so much is it hasn't changed that much since my last trip about 6 years ago. Jamie Oliver's Restaurant, Pipers Pub and my youngest sons favourite comic book store all there still.  Why do these places stay and ours seem so transient? Is the economy that much stronger here or are Scotts just more stubborn?  Something to ponder over the next while!  

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Disappointment...kind of....

Well it was one of those days...overcast with the threat of rain.  

Part of my grant  from the Ontario Arts Council is to follow my family tree.  As Glasgow feels like home, it really really does, It makes me believe in genetic memory.  So I have been corresponding with the MItchell LIbrary here in Glasgow, looking for some specific family graves. I had emailed them in February and again in May , with no luck finding someone to do a search for me.  So yesterday I was off to the library prepared to do a search for hours on microfiche.   I met the most lovely researchers, most generous with their time and offering assistance, but alas I ( the public) am not allowed to research their lair records.   So they took the names of the relatives I am searching for and will get back to me in 8 to 10 weeks!  Even though I will be back in Canada.   Oh well, I see another trip to Glasgow in my future!

Don't you just love the sense of humour?

Don't you just love the sense of humour?

So having no idea what to do with my free time, I went to GOMA , found an amazing art store and went to Marks and Spencer for my dinner of clotted cream rice pudding...how heavenly!

amazing columns

amazing columns

Sunday Church

It has been years since I have attended church. For a variety of reasons I have drifted away.  While in Glasgow one of my desires was to go to the Glasgow Cathedral.   http://www.glasgowcathedral.org/about/

On the way here West Jet lost my luggage , so if I really wanted to go to church, I would have to go in jeans and runners...... somewhere my mother is  cringing in disbelief, but I went anyway.  Thankfully my girlfriend went with me, because as we reached the entrance the ushers were dignified gentlemen dressed in full tuxes!   We were met with the kindest welcome, my girlfriend, much braver than I was doing the talking but I can honestly say I have never been welcomed into a church with such enthusiasm and kindness.

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We were, of course asked where we were from and after several stories and a brief history of the cathedral the Usher we were talking with stated that he believed that 'Canadians are the calmest among us" . LOL   What a joy to be part of this service. Women in hats and men in their suits...we were obviously noted as not local as a few parishioners  turned to talk to us and welcome us after the  service.

This Cathedral..not as ornate as the Italian, but for some reason it has such grandeur and strength I am forever drawn to it. It has held my imagination since I last saw it 6 years ago I am so grateful to be able to return.  If you ever have the opportunity please at least glimpse inside.

Oh and on the way home saw my dream van!

 

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Fireweed

So its been quite a while since I last posted...fingers crossed , this will change.   I am currently travelling through Scotland with the help of a grant from the Ontario Arts  Council.  I am grateful.

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So this post has been rolling around in my head for a while , Fireweed. I am not sure that is really the plants name but thats what I know it as. It is one of my favourite wild flowers.  The flowers on the plant start  blooming from the bottom and finish at the top...it takes almost a month to finish blooming as it boldly announces the end of summer and takes us toward fall.

This year it was an especially tough time for me to watch it bloom. This plant  counted down the time until my youngest left for university.  The flower scattered on the sides of  the road, in my yard, and outside my studio...always visible always counting and reminding.  Everyday brought new tears and challenges as this beautiful flower marked the passing of time for me.

   As I walk around the Necropolis in Glasgow with a girlfriend I haven't seen in a while, I found it,  the fireweed.... still blooming here in the city and still with time remaining on its blooms!   As I am reacquainted in a fantastic visit with friends, I realized we can go back, we can restart, we may just need to shift our perspective :)

 

Changes.....

So my husband has recently semi retired....... we are struggling to find our new normal......  guy without a schedule and a compulsive, work addicted wife......

So we did a mini vacation without a kiln....... I know, breathe deep , it will be O.k....

It is always a great opportunity to look at your work... where you are going and what you are doing.   On my recent trip to Salt Spring Island I met amazing people who seem to have much more artistic depth than I do ...and I am envious.   One gentleman, draws  regularly

( something I gave up years ago,) He also  paints and does the most amazing wood creations..... . He made me wonder how different my art would be with more media. 

So after yet another trip to the hardware store I discovered this amazing paper...I am obviously still obsessed with my layered landscape work so it felt only natural to see if I could capture emotion with another material.  I began by layering torn squares, but found them much too boring, so by wrinkling and then smoothing and stacking I created something that held fascination for me.  What an analogy for life.   The wrinkled and worn, created more interest and intrigue......for me, not that I don't adore young people, but our scars definitely add interest to our story.

As I added layers the wrinkles and scars of each sheet became less visible but began to create interest as a whole.    This needs more thought and exploration.  I do have to say, as I am sitting in Winnipeg airport to go home with a 3.5 hr delay, and only 5 hrs sleep ...... I need to remind myself how each adventure and chance meeting enriches my life and my work........ I am grateful and amazed!

Spring

It is spring in the North...... The lilacs are just out, along with the honey suckles and many kind of small flowers I cannot identify.  I walk the dog in the morning, we do a  half hour down to the public docks where she can go for a swim. It smells so wonderful here.   As I walked the dog this morning each blade of grass had a tiny drop of dew right on its tip...still facing the sky. My ferns are still unravelling to expose all of their graceful glory and he irises are in mid bloom with the deep purple blooms nodding stoically to me in the breeze.

Lilacs

Why can I not remember how flipping amazing this part of the country is when it is -40C here in January?  Why cannot remember the tiny little hummingbirds that rest outside my window on the overhead wires.  I feel like I am seeing this place for the first time.    My husband has sold his business, so afternoons that were spent working on art but surrounded by his customers and staff are now spent in my garden , still working , but in this amazing place where the smell of fresh grass and flowers fill my senses.   I am not sure if it my time in Norway shifting my perspective, or my recent time in southern Ontario, but I do know I am grateful.  Like the new beer commercial says "where you come from makes you what you are"! I am starting to believe this more and more.

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Driving ........Again!

This time I had a road buddy....my amazing wonder dog, Katie.    She was completely content in the car, with the heater running on my side and the air conditioning on her side,  she quickly discovered she could lay on her doggy bed and still glance out of the window.   Road side stops were new and exciting, as we drove through the States (they have the best rest areas ever!  And unlike Canadians they realize people need to use the bathroom all year around!)  The rest stops were pure delight for Kate with new smells and new discoveries at every step.   Birds and geese were the most exciting as it has been a few months since she has last seen those.

Katie on the road to Ottawa!  

Katie on the road to Ottawa!

 

It was great to have a buddy with me this time.

As I drove , leaving Saturday of the Easter weekend, I began to wonder what was happening to the traditions I was  raised with.   As  a kid we would drive to Saskatchewan every second year to see my Grandparents, and I loved those visits.  They were simple holidays, no Easter table cloths or "good" china...but the house was filled with LOVE and I knew I was loved.  No matter how long we stayed, they were always grateful for the visit, just content with life......   But what will my children remember?  The oldest  son in University is madly studying for exams, The youngest is watching movies with his Dad at home,  and he didn't want to spend another holiday on the road, and I am stuck in between driving to make yet another art show deadline.......Hmmmmmmm.     IN this crazy North American culture where we are all working harder and constantly striving to better, I think I need some time to set some ground rules for myself... The Norwegian thought of " you must not be competent in your job if you need to work overtime"   comes to mind...and reminds me I need to find the balance!

 

Home

4 days traveling to get home.   -31C here this morning, but grateful for many things along the way.  On the plane from Oslo  I sat with an amazing Canadian/Icelandic man  who helped Inuit start their own fishing business, so he shared some of his life and Iceland's history with Canada. Made my connection by the skin of my teeth in Toronto thanks to some generous folks who let me cut in line in security..... Had a hotel room and bed probably 3x the size of ones I have slept in the last 3 weeks.  Met a dear friend for breakfast who I don't get to see as often as I would like, she helped me process my last 2 weeks, and  set some goals for the future.  The pilot on my last flight home is one I have seen flying in the North for many years, he makes it feel like home.   And flying home over the frozen North.........as the commercial says .....priceless.   Amazing how some time away can make us appreciate what we take for granted!

 

The long way home!

Sorry this is late. I could not get on the internet tonight.   We left Berlevag at 9 am sharp...which is a small miracle when you consider that herding artists is like herding cats, not always successful. We drove 45 minutes along the most spectacular hi way  only to find that the mountain pass was closed and we had to wait 1.5 hrs for a convoy.  A snow plow leads and we all follow. When they close the road there is a permanent arm that comes down and blocks the road, like we have at a railway crossing and a permanent sign that posts times of convoys.   For someone who normally feels isolated I cannot imagine being cut off from the rest of the world. But I really like the convoy idea.

The Reindeer were in herds across the Tundra, and we found these two hanging out near someones house. We saw many herds running freely.   The sun was spectacular and it turned the snow to shades of yellow, pink and blue. A ride that we were told would be 4 hours was 7.5 hrs....time seems to be of no real consequence here.   Last night while eating dinner, the most amazing choir sang in the lobby of our hotel..... no matter what the language it always amazes me how music moves me.I hope I can one day do this with my work.

Fish drying racks.

Fish drying racks.

Today to Oslo and tomorrow home (well not really...it takes me 2 days to make it home!)

 

Last Day In Berlvag

So today was our last day with glass.  We had the critique and saw amazing people doing spectacular glass.  Great to see new ideas and new work being created.

Today it snowed so much it was up to our knees.  I looked at one of the Sparrks today ( the  kick sled) thinking it would be very useful to take home.  It was 18,000 Krone.  Hmmmm  I may need to walk for  awhile.

 

 We are supposed to leave at 9 am tomorrow and right now all the mountain passes are closed. So we hope to meet a plow and convoy over the mountain pass.  Interesting way to live and travel. 

I was also in a store today..an old fashioned hardware store...it was so fun....we found studded bike tires ...a really great idea!


The Northern Lights

Do not get excited...I do not have a photo, but the Northern lights danced and ran and chased the stars last night.  I saw them in glowing green on the midnight blue sky.  I have never seen them move so fast , twirling and swirling above me

Again, my insignificance is verified.

Today we went to Konsfjord, the one place in Norway that was spared the burning by the Nazis at the end of the second world woe.  Everything was burnt because this area was valuable as a sea port so better to ruin it then let others have it I guess.   I will never be a war strategist! So therefore Northern Norway has lost most of its history.... Pretty interesting

It is light here by 8 and dark at 2:30...it is warm but the most incredible wind!


The Wind

It never stops. Our building shifts, groans, and hums all night.  The windows, rattle constantly.  The rope on the flag pole vibrates at a very quick pace.  We walk to the studio with our heads down.   The temperature is warm here but the wind is unrelenting. It create the most beautify snow drifts.   ere many of the entranceways are made of expanded metal...so the snow falls through, something I will take home with me!

I watched a really large fishing boat in the harbour rock and roll this morning. It was behind the breakwater and tied to the dock. I am grateful I do not make my living off the sea.

My son and his team won a basketball tournament, and again I am removed, away and an observer.   I often feel like a bystander, as the world passes me by as I am locked in my bubble of glass again.  The world passing me by.

Something I need to consider.

 

Light House

Today we went to the most amazing light house.... well for me I did not even photograph the light house...the landscape and the slate that surrounds it...I could breathe

It is Zero here today but still quite windy..now in the late afternoon it has started to snow.

The ocean , snow and rock...quite the combination

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And this didn't post yesterday as it was supposed to because I left my laptop in the main lodge and it was so windy here..I could not go outside. The door was ripped out of my hand as I attempted to go out side to retrieve my laptop an I could not have imaged walking back with it in the storm.  But I did learn to make curry from the amazing Purnima Patel.  If you get a chance look at her site  www.purnimapatel.com... A really fantastic person.