I left Tain early, I wanted to get to Cromarty a day before my art residency was kicking off. Drove in my red California VW, listening to the podcast The Daily “Inside the U.F.O. report” as I arrived to Black Isle. And there they stand. Six monstrous structures, I do not know what they are! Spaceships? Is this a U.F.O graveyard? It is a kind of graveyard, but what for me was shocking for the locals has been part of the landscape for generations. Old obsolete or broken oil racks end up here in theirs coast, dominating the view. The metal waste can stand there for years! Some of the locals get work from dismantling the structures, which is why opinions are so divided. It is obviously not a good environmental impact. The impact is not only visual, you can hear the bangs all day long. They are being dismantled.
Once in town, as always I head to the beach and found a little spot for us to spend the night. I was less than a minute in town and I already found the best ice-cream – elderflower & strawberry sorbet! The village is full of lovely little shops that sell super cute local items such as, candles, post-cards, soups, art, antiques … For the size of the town the offer is serious! Second hand furniture shop, some serious food and much more. In the last census Cromarty had 900 inhabitants and so a day in town and I already had meet many locals. Where? At the local pub! It is most of the times the best place to get a real flavour of what is up in town. The Baker, the pub owners, the man with a cocker spaniel litter… Old faces that will become familiar soon.
The space where I am staying is called “Ardyne” lovely, small Victorian home with 3 floors. I am in the top floor – attic – lovely view. I look out of the window and see those massive seagulls flying, screaming, shacking their wings. It is that time of the year, their chicks are learning to fly and leaving the nest, so mum seagull is pretty protective. Which leads me to what the locals said ” be careful with your dog, they can be very aggressive”. Oh dear… we did not make it all the way from Marbella to be attacked by an Scottish Seagull , did we?
We got all settled in, walked around and enjoyed the lovely weather! Veggie quiche from the baker – yes my friend the baker – and a siesta in the sun! Ready for day two and I got settled in the art space. The Stables,self explanatory name, now used for exhibitions, events and as art studios. To loose the hand I am continuing my series “Bubble Gums” in which I sketch very fast faces I have seen and I remember, some of them I just invent. I love the plasticity from charcoal, it stretches and gives a lot of depth at the same time. But I really kicked off on day #3 as I was finally able to get some paint in Inverness. I was a little adventure but I managed.
Took some of my travel images and drew them on thin paper. Landscaper, portraits, clouds, sheep…
I am working on the bigger paper, 50 x 70 cm, to continue the series about the memory. I have always been intrigued by it. When you loose a memory, it is like grabbing a fish in the sea. It slips of your fingers and you know were looking for something but not sure what it was anymore. In this new artistic phase, I am making a real effort to remember my childhood. I have been blocking some of those memories maybe because there are many sad stories in my own narrative and while avoiding to think of the ugly I was also not seeing beauty. Watermelon in the garden, Salzteig with mum and Paula, Pipi Langstrumpf and Mini for Carnival, a dog litter from my lovely Dama and many days running from the swimming-pool to the house wrapped in a towel.
In between productive days in the studio there were some serious visits to the pub to enjoy and suffer watching football, it is the Euro 2020. Mistly Isle … But there was time for Pizza too! Sutor Creek, which could be also included in my blog “Exploring the Michelin Guide” has great pizza in offer. Amazing veggie options and a very juicy quiche. Because of COVID and overall because of the space, it is take-away. The experience is not the focus but the food is top!
I am off soon! But I need to share that I met Mercedes. She is Spanish but has been part of the Cromarty Community for many years. She touched my soul! She is such a lovely vital women, full of stories and energy. She even came over my studio and I drew her, we spoke about life, we had such a great connection! And so Cromarty without even thinking has giving me the space to remember my childhood, enjoy the beauty of being alone and meeting a great women from which, although briefly in time, I learnt a lot.