Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Mini kayak expedition Skye

To build up our paddling fitness again, Jaap, our neighbour Lucy and me planned a 3 day kayak expedition to the Isle of Skye in the weekend of the 14th of May. The whole week it had been stunning weather with temperatures of about 20 C (at least on the West coast, not with us unfortunately!) and wall to wall sunshine. However, change was on its way so we worked out a few options. Initially we planned to go round Neist point and then explore Wiay Island.

We first stocked up our supplies in Broadford and enjoyed a delicious (late) breakfast at Cafe Sia. The moment we left Broadford, the only road leading to our destination closed down (and would be for several hours) due to a severe road accident. Change of plan; our new launch point would be Elgol. We did a trip from here almost 3 years ago ( It was wonderful to be here again, in beautiful weather (again!) and Lucy had never paddled here before so we could show her the way.

Launch at Elgol ©Fenfolio2016
Launch at Elgol ©Fenfolio2016
With a head wind of 4 (gusts up to 5) from the North East we first made our way into Loch Scavaig and the start of Loch Coruisk with stunning views to the Cuillin mountains.

Paddling in front of The Cuillins ©Fenfolio2016

Jaap on Loch Scavaig ©Fenfolio2016

Sky, mountain and bothy ©Fenfolio2016

Approaching Loch Coruisk ©Fenfolio2016

Early in the evening we arrived on headland Rhubha an Dunain where we wanted to set camp (like last time). Unfortunately we couldn't land from the North due to the wind and lumpy sea so we decided to get out on the South side of the headland instead. There was plenty of space to pitch our tent but it took some time to found the least windy spot!

Our campsite at Rhubha an Dunain ©Fenfolio2016

View towards Rum and Canna ©Fenfolio2016

Lucy using her petrol stove in prep for her Greenland trip

Overnight the wind died down completely and with a clear sky it was surprisingly cold. Unfortunately there was no firewood to be found here so we wore all our layers and down jacket (me also in bed!).

Calm but very cold night ©Fenfolio2016

The next day we explored this fascinating headland. There are some really interesting historic sites here such as a dun, chambered cairn and an ancient canal thought to be built by Vikings!

Exploring Rhubha an Dunain ©Fenfolio2016

Jaap on ancient dun ©Fenfolio2016

Picture perfect view to Rum and Canna ©Fenfolio2016

Lucy exloring chambered cairn ©Fenfolio2016

Ancient canal ©Fenfolio2016

Happy girls ©Fenfolio2016

Ruins from a house ©Fenfolio2016

Once we had packed all our stuff we paddled back through Soay Sound. Suddenly a large group of feeding seabirds got our attention. At closer inspection we saw about 8 harbour porpoises joining the feeding party!

One of the many harbour porpoises ©Fenfolio2016

The coastline was stunning here, showing off its perfect geological features.

Beautiful coloures and textures ©Fenfolio2016

Dykes and sills of igneous rocks ©Fenfolio2016

Dykes and sills of igneous rocks ©Fenfolio2016

Late in the evening we set camp on the Isle of Soay, near Loch Doire an Lochain on the smaller part of the island. The weather was still fantastic, making our bedroom window view spectacular!

Our campsite on Isle of Soay ©Fenfolio2016

Our campsite on Isle of Soay ©Fenfolio2016

Another beautiful calm but very cold night ©Fenfolio2016

Luckily there was plenty of firewood to be found here and we made ourselves comfortable behind big rocks sheltered from the wind.

Fireman ©Fenfolio2016

Cosy fire ©Fenfolio2016

The next day we explored the island of Soay and in particular the derelict shark factory, started by author Gavin Maxwell. Many basking sharks were processed here for their oil just after WW2. It is now mainly used by local fishermen where they keep their crails.

Derelict shark factory on Soay ©Fenfolio2016

Nature taking over ©Fenfolio2016

Crails ©Fenfolio2016

Sea still life ©Fenfolio2016

Beached vintage video recorder  ©Fenfolio2016

Greylag goose eggs ©Fenfolio2016

Hopefully many more mini expeditions like this will come this season!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Art & Design exhibitions

Over the last 4 days Aberdeen has seen the Look Again Festival celebrating its innovative visual art and design projects. I had the opportunity to visit a few features in the city and came home inspired and actually happily surprised about what Aberdeen has to offer creatively.

The Brutalist Playground by recent Turner Prize winners Assemble and artist Simon Terrill was fabulous for children AND adults.

Copy from festival guide; Brutalist Playground

The pop-up mirrored pavilion literally reflected the historical architecture of the Castlegate, celebrating Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Copy from festival guide; Mirrored Pavilion

 Inside the pavilion a few fellow artists (including Anne who I exhibited with during NEOS last year) showcased their beautiful designs.

Copy from festival guide; Look Inside Design Collective

And in one of the empty shops in town Unreal Estate was set up; a conceptual artist-run estate agent showing work of ten Aberdeen artists and designers who have explored the city's archive to produce an alternative take on Union Street. At the entrance you could pick up a leaflet about each of the exhibited artwork (similar to a real estate agent!) and learn more about the building which was the source of inspiration for that artwork. I loved the whole concept and it's so clever to come up with this!

Copy from festival guide; Unreal Estate

One of the Unreal Estate flyers, front page

One of the Unreal Estate flyers, back page

In the weekend we visited Edinburgh and immersed ourselves in the culture there! First we explored the area Stockbridge where we stayed in a fabulous Airbnb apartment. I instantly fell in love with the village-like atmosphere, coffee shops, restaurants, boutique shops and delicious outdoor market which takes place every Sunday. I will have to come back again as two days are really too short!

When we just arrived and enjoyed our tea in one of the nice coffeeshops, we met Tommy, an artist and owner of Saorsa Gallery in Stockbridge. We had a really nice chat (he gave us some recommendations which is always handy!) and visited his gallery the next day. We love his vibrant paintings and unusual technique (painting on the back of frame glass).

We visited the Botanic Gardens where the Ideal Hut Show had just been opened. We just happened to be there at the right time. Really quirky designs!

The Ideal Hut Show sign

Some of the quicky designed huts on display in Botanic Gardens


Some of the quicky designed huts on display in Botanic Gardens

All elements of this hut taken apart

Inside out...

...and outside in

A room of one's own

Funny jokes about architects and engineers on this one

Press release "The Ideal Hut Show"
In Inverleith House we saw British Art Show 8. Unfortunately that was not my cup of tea!

We ended the first day at The Modern Art Gallery where the exhibition of Modern Scottish Women was shown; "This revelatory exhibition of work by Scottish women artists concentrates on painters and sculptors. It covers the period from 1885, when Fra Newbery became Director of Glasgow School of Art, until 1965, the year of Anne Redpath’s death. The eighty years which lay between these events saw an unprecedented number of Scottish women train and practise as artists."

Dorothy Johnstone by artist Anne Finlay, 1920

The next day we went to RSA Annual Exhibition where we saw Home; a large curated exhibition of leading Scottish and invited international architects exploring the theme "home".

RSA Home exhibition (scan from catalogue)

 In the same building there was also the Academicians Gallery and I was in particular blown away by Kate Downie's mixed media work.

"Walking the Dragon I" by Kate Downie

Also printmaker Barbara Rae and painter Janette Kerr had some beautiful work shown.

"Night Beach" by Barbara Rae

"Twisting and Turning" by Janette Kerr

I'm still buzzing after this wonderful weekend away and have already noted down many ideas for my next art projects. I look forward to getting started with some new artistic explorations and putting a few of these into practice the coming months!