A week of conversation, exploration and creation with artists from the Bergen Atelier Grouppe (BAG) and from the Scottish Society of Artists (SSA) courtesy of David Faithfull and Imi Maufe.
Day 1 – Ferry crossing to Craignure followed by bus across Mull to Fionnphort. Jon Macleod discovered me blindly trying to find artists in the local bar, before taking me to Tormore, where I was introduced to David F, Imi, Marit, Randi, Sarah and David R.
Day 2 – The Scottish contingent was augmented by the arrival of Rhona. Then followed a tour of Tormore with Jane Brunton, who talked about the etymology of local place names and their Norse origins. The walk took us to a cave for the temporary storage of dead kings on their way to Iona and around a disused granite quarry.
In the afternoon David rowed Jon and I to the nearby scorched island, where we tramped among it’s crispy undergrowth.
Day 3 – Geological tour of Iona from John Faithfull and his insightful assistant Spud. The day started in thick fog as we walked to the Southwest point of the island. After a morning of quizzing John about the prior lives of stones and pebbles we found on the beach, we headed to a marble quarry. The sun emerged as we meandered along the coast, visiting reeking caves and paddling in chilly water.
In the evening we were joined at last by Katie; the final member of the throng.
Day 4 – A day of sailing around the Treshnish Isles on the beautiful Birthe Marie. Starting with a sail around Staffa and then on to Lunga Island with it’s chaotic population of puffins, guillemots and razorbills. On the seas we were kept company by porpoises and minke whales.
Day 5 – A day without an itinerary in which everyone got on with their own thing. For me, this was taking my canvas for a walk. Imi took me to some puddles full of iron deposit to make a first mark on the canvas before I headed off across the moors and beaches dragging the canvas behind me. After this I spent the remainder of the afternoon in a rocky paradise, sitting and drawing in hot sunshine in the red granite quarry.
Day 6 – A morning walk in a nature reserve led by a local ranger. We saw beautiful woodland, an ancient oak tree and a nervous adder, as a well as numerous midgies. In the afternoon I was finally tempted to swim in the sea and was delighted to find the temperature less villainous than I had imagined.
The evening came with an extraordinary sunset as David F, Sarah, Randi and Marit went to catch fish for Friday’s barbecue.
Day 7 – My final full day, which started with a Imi’s swim walk. Beginning in the quarry, we swim-walked through some key sites and down to the sea, where many of us swam. I spent the rest of the day in my quarry paradise, hanging my canvas high on the quarry wall with David F’s assistance.
In the evening we gathered for a barbecue on the beach. Head chef David Rios prepared pollock to be cooked in the sand with hot coals as well as building the most extraordinary cooking fire I have ever seen. Jane Brunton made a welcome return with a (W)ord cake and we sat around the fire into the night.
Day 8 – The day of departure for Rhona, Katie and myself. I rose early to photograph my canvas with the rising sun on it’s faice. After saying my goodbyes I caught the bus to Craignure before crossing to Oban and an abrasive return to civilization.