Setting up ‘the line and the circle’

North East Open Studios 2013…. is almost here….today was setting up the exhibition! Only one more day until the opening.

20130905-174349.jpgthis is the space i will be exhibiting in, it is huge!

20130905-174507.jpgsomething i thought might take, at most, a couple of hours took four. Setting up a solo show has been a new experience, it has been a long time in the making, starting the collaboration with Catriona in the summer last year and a residency in October 2012 at the Salmon Bothy.


i love that the zulu sail matches the iron oxide paint of the salmon bothy windows20130905-175452.jpg
and my image and illustrations match the NEOS catalogue colours
Finally the hard work of ideas, inspiration, researching, drawing, developing, making, preparing the paper, printing, drying, framing, delivering, hanging, presenting, marketing and exhibiting finally come together


The line and the circle

A project I started about a year ago is building momentum and tonight we were interviewed on a local radio station.

The background to the project can be found here

And the radio recording found here

20130831-222428.jpg arrival at SHMU FM, in time for the show this evening.

20130831-222521.jpg being greeted by the hosts and waiting in the green room for the earlier show to finish.

20130831-222612.jpgHowarth and Ian getting ready to start the show. 20 seconds…..5…4…3…*…*…mike live

20130831-222756.jpgMark updating facebook during the show at the same time as asking questions, fielding comments and questions from listeners.

20130831-223035.jpgCatriona waiting to perform her poetry, introduce her music choices and discuss our collaboration.

20130831-223147.jpgRitchie and colin, groupies/hecklers and photographers chilling on the studio sofa.

A brilliant time, hope you like the show, you can listen here

The exhibition opens with an event on 6th September 2013, at the Portsoy Salmon Bothy, more information and dates to follow.

I colori di guardia sanframondi

Im now coming to the end of my residency, time to review and reflect on what I’ve learnt and look forward to taking new skills, ideas and contacts home with me to Scotland.

We sent out the invites, got everything ready and laid out the nibbles and wine and waited until the rainstorm finished…..and everyone appeared! Thank you to all who came along, you made it a fabulous end to a wonderful residency.

Images are taken by clare galloway of Arthouse Guardia



















Painting with stones and metal – part three

It always surprises me that when I actually watch someone and then have a go myself, how much easier it can be than my initial thoughts of doing it. Painting with egg tempera is one of those skills…once I was shown how to do it I was off!

Gather everything together…..pestle and mortar, eggs, bowls, paper, minerals, disposable palate and painting equipment

Separate egg yoke from egg white and prepare egg yoke.

Whisk egg yolk with a little vinegar.

Mix egg yolk with mineral powder on palate

A small amount of water may be required to prepare the mineral, use of a muller and stone would have been useful here, to reduce the size of the particles for painting to get a smoother finish.

Amounts of paint required need to be estimated prior to making up as the length of time the paint will keep is restricted due to the natural nature of the ingredients.

Natural colours found around guardia from stones, metal and found objects.

I colore di guardia – colour wheel.

It will be a while before I can test the other stones and soil samples in the kiln, but i’ll post an update when I have one. In the meantime, this technique will be useful for a couple of projects I have coming up in the next few months….watch this space.

Painting with stones and metal – part two

A couple of the techniques I was hoping to explore, before I came to Italy, were casein painting and egg tempera and I was delighted when Helena said she taught egg tempera to her students and she’d be happy to give me a demonstration.

During the first couple of walks, here in Guardia, I collected a selection of stones and soils as well as some oxides from around the town.


In the process of walking about i found out that the mountain Guardia Sanframondi is built on used to be an island and the surrounding land a lagoon! No wonder it is so lush, the romans and greeks made it their ‘garden’ and is where the area got its name, Campania, from the Latin, Campania Felix or fertile countryside.


We visited the paleo-lab at Pietraroja, where we had a brilliant tour through time, learnt about fossils, got to make our own ammonites and see the dinosaur found in a stone by a young boy. The baby dinosaur, looks like a velociraptor (like the ones in jurassic park) and is almost fully intact with its internal organs clear to see!

Outside the paeleo-lab.

Anyway, back to the stones…i was able to collect a few samples of limestone with iron oxides flowing through them, some interesting vitrified stones and some fossilised stones that had the most amazing molluscs and shapes in them. My trusty mini microscope came in really handy.


In Naples we bought some natural pigments from an art store to compare colours, texture and ease of application with the ‘found’ pigments. Lastly, I collected some charcoal, which i think may be from grape vine wood, found at Forre di Lavello e Grotte near Cosano mutri, a popular picnic place full of lovely walks, grottos and a huge river. All great materials and inspiration for making paint!

Stone and metal oxide pigments mixed with water and applied to watercolour paper.