To reach our destination Liz and I navigated our way from Lerwick harbour to Sumburgh Head, passing shetland ponies and sheep along the road.
Nothing could prepare me for the jaw dropping scenery as we snaked across the landscape, driving over the airport runway which is closed whenever a flight is taking off or landing. As we approached our accommodation, a recently renovated cottage located next to the Lighthouse, we were greeted by a small cluster of puffins flying to and from their burrows. The dramatically perched Lighthouse on the cliff which was designed by the famous engineer Robert Stevenson is home to one of the largest puffin colonies in Scotland.
Looking up to Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, ink and gouache on paper
Despite being the beginning of August we were still able to enjoy the last of the puffins who weren’t quite ready to leave the comfort of their burrows for the harsh Atlantic and North Sea.
Dark clouds over Fitful Head, gouache and wax crayon on paper
Throughout our stay we were given permission to use the Visitor Centre/Cafe as a studio space, this provided us with an uninterrupted view of the landscape and birds, a place of refuge and contemplation when the high winds were too strong to work outdoors. We spent many evenings mesmerised by the flightiness of fulmars and bonxies (great skua) as they circled the cliffs unaware of our presence. Who needs a television!
Storm over Fitful Head, gouache on paper
The continual change in weather became the focus of many of the works I made on Shetland. Passing showers, gale force winds, storms, blazing sunshine, fiery sunsets, misty mornings and rainbows. All of the elements which I endeavoured to embrace and battled against. The experience of being in the landscape, watching it fade and re-appear as dark clouds descended above created a sense of urgency and energy in my way of working.
The lighthouse itself is a fantastic place to be based. I’m looking forward to continuing my exploration of Shetland on my return next June 2017.
To see more photographs and examples of work made during my two week residency please follow me on Instagram.
Thank you to all the staff who made us feel so welcome and to Angela Hunt for all her help.
Shetland Pony, Waterless Lithograph, 21 x 29 ins
Submerge Head Lighthouse, Pastel on paper, 21 x 29 ins