Joan Eardley: A Sense of Place

Just back from a trip to Edinburgh to see a very special show.
Joan Eardley has fascinated, inspired and influenced me profoundly since I first came across her work at Aberdeen Art Gallery many, many years ago. Like me she was drawn again and again to what appear, at first, to be two very different subjects: social documentary (in Eardley’s case of inner city Glasgow) and wild landscape (North East Scottish coast).
So excited then to see the first major show of her work in a long time at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
Much of the work on show is familiar from Christopher Andreae’s comprehensive 2013 book, but even then there are some surprises and, as ever, seeing paintings (and drawings, sketches and photographs) ‘in the flesh’ is revelatory compared with reproductions in books. 
The beautiful ‘Boats on the Shore’, 1963 (see attached) was completely new to me and whilst the exhibition is full of wonderful paintings any show is necessarily selective so if you want to see the monumental ‘High Tide, A Winter Afternoon’, 1961, you’ll still need to head up to Aberdeen. Of course that means you can pop in to Catterline en route and see the place that inspired so much of Eardley’s landscapes and seascapes.
The show is divided roughly between the two great strands of her work, the street children and tenements of 1950s Glasgow and the remote fishing village of Catterline on the East Aberdeenshire coast. 
Here then is a little taster….
....and my own (heavily influenced) picture of the Todhead lighthouse from Catterline made a few years back - part of the series 'Dreich'
 
https://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/on-now-coming-soon/joan-eardley/
http://www.aagm.co.uk/thecollections/objects/object/High-Tide-A-Winter-Afternoon?l
img_4799Eardley, Joan Kathleen Harding, 1921-1963; High Tide, a Winter Afternoongma-853todehead_from_catterline_2013

The Tay Valley, Scotland

Amidst all the turmoil surrounding the EU referendum here in the UK last week, I was fortunate to spend a few days up in Scotland continuing my series of large format landscapes. This time The Upper Tay Valley in and around Crianlarich....

With 04.30 sunrise and sunset at 22.30, they were long days. Thanks to the good folk at the Crianlarich Hotel who looked after me with my odd time keeping!

A pint of the Colonsay Brewery IPA was a welcome treat at the end of the day...

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The Independent on Sunday New Review and the modern world

Just a quick update on my Scottish Referendum project - the Independent on Sunday New Review in the UK ran a lovely spread this last weekend..... Also, finally joined the modern world! Please join me on facebook and twitter for news, updates and photography discussion

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In the far, far north and west

More from my ongoing Scotland work, this time in the far north and west highlands and islands. The Summer Isles from Achiltibuie...

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Drying the peat for winter fuel, Isle of South Uist...easton_south_uist_01An older image - 'Storm approaching Sandwood Bay'... easton_sandwood_01 One of my favourite landscapes in the world - the mountains of Assynt in the North West Highlands...easton_nw_highlands_04 easton_nw_highlands_03 easton_nw_highlands_02 easton_nw_highlands_01 The wonderful ceramicist Lotte Glob in Durness, her sculpture croft is a gem in this far flung outpost....easton_lotte_glob_durnessThe Knoydart peninsula.... easton_knoydart_01 The Paps of Jura, seen from the Isle of Colonsay....easton_isle_of_jura_01The Isle of Barra.... easton_isle_of_barra_01

The Scottish Referendum Project

On September 18th 2014, the people of Scotland will decide whether they want to break away from the UK and become an independent nation. The Union of England and Scotland has been in effect since 1707 when the two separate countries joined together to form Great Britain. This will be the first time the people of Scotland will vote on full independence from the UK. It is also the first time that 16 and 17 year olds will be given a right to vote in a UK election. Being Scottish, but living in England I don't get to vote on what is potentially the break up of the UK.  Of course, I can see both sides of the argument and so in an effort to understand more, I've been spending some time in Scotland shooting a series of large format photographs of young people born on 18th September 1998. They will celebrate their 16th birthday on the day of the referendum and so will be the youngest people to cast their ballot. It could be argued that being the youngest they also have the most at stake in the future of their country. They are old enough to vote on the breakup of the UK, but too young to consent to having their photograph taken, to young to drive a car, to drink alcohol or to get married. My aim is to give each of these young people a direct voice in the debate without the barrier of a journalists questions or interpretation. Each portrait is accompanied by a hand written text explaining whether the person is voting ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ and their reasons why. I was deeply impressed with all of the young people I spoke to and found them well informed and engaged in the debate, although more than one said to me that they felt it was too much of a responsibility for them to take on when they didn't have, and felt they couldn't know, all the facts and implications of full independence for Scotland. Thanks to all for taking part - democracy and political debate is alive and well in the next generation.

Here's the first few....

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Life's a Beach

Been working on some large format exhibition prints of new work around the British Coast. Here's a little taster.....

Broughty Ferry near Dundee, The Isle of Man and  St Ives, Cornwall (from the cafe at the Tate)

For Sale

A few images from my little series 'For Sale' published in the Independent on Sunday Review yesterday. Shops and online shopping is soooo last year! I reckon you could just about get everything you need by the side of the road - even one or two things you didn't know you needed. Tank anyone?

Stormy Weather - more 'Dreich'

Images from a recent trip in the West of Scotland. Who'd want to be anywhere else? from my ongoing series 'Dreich' - all made in two sizes:

46” x 34.5” on 50” x 40” paper, C-type print on Fuji Crystal Archive: edition of 5 plus 2 AP

22” x 16.5” on 24” x 20” paper, C-type print on Fuji Crystal Archive: edition of 10 plus 2 AP

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Uisge Beatha: Water of Life

Just back from two days up in Scotland. Chris Coe, one of the founders of the 'Travel Photographer of the Year Awards' very kindly took me up to Glasgow to meet the people at Cutty Sark Whisky where, with the expert guidance of Master Blender Kirsteen Campbell, I was to blend my own whisky as part of the TPOTY prize. I've always been fascinated by the Whisky story and have photographed in a number of distilleries over the years so the opportunity to learn about the blending process and tour the bottling plant was a honour beyond words.

So...cue the pictures.

First up, Kirsteen in the blending room, all wood panelled the way it should be - apparently the room was moved piece by piece from the original blending room in a beautiful old Georgian building in the city to the modern HQ and bottling plant up the road.

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The alchemy begins....

Cutty Sark is blended from a mixture of fine grain whiskies and famous single malts such as the Macallan and Highland Park. Chris and I were taken through a 'nosing' and tasting test with Kirsteen explaining and demonstrating how the different liquids affect the blend. The range of flavours and nuances was extraordinary - whether it was the different grains, the level of smokiness imparted by the burning of peat under the malting floor or type of cask in which the whisky has been matured. Of the samples we tried I was astonished at the difference the same whisky exhibited after maturing for the same length of time in either American oak casks or Spanish oak casks - totally different flavours imparted from the different wood.

To me the difference between the grain whisky and the malt whisky was very identifiable and so we began by blending only the malts to establish the basic taste that appealed to me. Like a scientist in the coolest science lab you're ever likely to see, Kirsteen led me by the hand, blending 10 mls at a time of various single malts to get to a really tasty blend with just the right level of smokey peat and a slight sweetness from a malt matured in American oak casks.

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Then it was a question of balancing the flavour of the malts with the grain whisky to bring a smoothness to the overall blend. CEWhisky60

OK, here I am pretending to know what I'm doing (but fooling nobody, I imagine)...

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With the vast range of whiskies, casks, strengths, peatiness, etc. etc. the blending process is an art that takes years to learn. Of course, I was never going to be an expert in one day, but it was made a lot easier for me by the fact that we blended from a narrower range of malts selected by Kirsteen based on the type of whiskies I like.

Each different variation we worked on was marked down in chalk on the slate worktops and only with constant comparison with previous versions was I able to arrive at something which I am really proud to call my own. I do have a note of every malt, type of cask and quantity of each that went into it, but of course I'm going to claim that as a 'commercial secret' so don't ask. Suffice to say it tastes bloody lovely!!

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With Kirsteen and my final blend... CEWhisky66

and the little sample bottles that Chris and I were given to take away with us whilst Kirsteen makes up the full quantities for bottling. CEWhisky73

An enormous thank you to Chris and Karen Coe at Travel Photographer of the Year and to Wendy, Jason and Kirsteen at Cutty Sark.

What a privilege!

Craig

all photographs ©Chris Coe 2013

Look what arrived in the post this morning.....

Well, how about that. A BIG thank you to the good people at Cutty Sark Whisky who have very kindly sent me a lovely package to 'introduce me to the brand', before I head up to Scotland to meet Kirsteen Campbell, the Master Blender, to learn all about the whisky blending process and to shoot a commission for them. All part of the TPOTY prize and something I'm really looking forward to. In the first instance however, I think I better unscrew these caps and begin the voyage of discovery... Cutty_Sark

Travel Photographer of the Year 2012

I am delighted to be awarded the Cutty Sark Award for the Travel Photographer of the Year 2012 from an outstanding field of photographers worldwide. My thanks go to the judging panel, a hugely respected group of photographers and industry professionals whose work I admire. To have my photography selected as Overall Winner from the highest quality international competition is an immense thrill. http://www.tpoty.com/winners/2012

Regular readers of this blog will have seen the images in previous posts, but here's a little reminder...

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Land Rover shoot

Here, as promised, are a few pictures  from the recent LandRover trip. Shooting the LR Defender in locations all over the UK and meeting owners and enthusiasts of this classic vehicle as it celebrates 60 years of production.

and whilst we were up in Scotland on a diabolically dreich (that word again!) day, here's a snap of me shot by my assistant Wayne Pilgrim who says "You can look at this two ways, either you have this incredible talent for controlling your subjects. Or the fact that you are just plain crazy, and have no thought for life and limb". But of course, this is not Wayne's natural habitat...he's more likely to be found snapping an all together different animal... you can see his fashion and beauty work here.

and this is what I was doing...

Dreich

Well, last day of April and I've heard of April showers but come on...that was ridiculous! Although it did help me with my ongoing personal project 'Dreich' - a wonderfully descriptive Scottish word that I remember my Grandmother in Edinburgh using. Still in general use it means variously damp; dank; dull; dreary; dismal with regards to the weather but for me it can mean an exciting challenge photographically. More to follow, but here's a selection shot this month...Not sure if some of these mightn't more accurately be described as a squall but whilst it felt damp, dank and dreary it looked fabulous...