detail from a watercolor/gouache sketch, based on a Vreedenburgh painting
latest updates: Fishing
Lobster Fishing, Mull of Galloway – Watercolour
This small boat was spotted at the foot of the gigantic cliffs at the most south westerly corner of Scotland. Although this painting might suggest a sort of calm scene the boat was heaving up and down in an alarming manner as attempts were made to retrieve the lobster pots. All of the time the swell threatened to dash this small craft against the cliffs and what cliffs. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Mull of Galloway you will drive over some flattish and remote country then suddenly will be presented with an astonishing view from the lighthouse which nestles at the top of these huge sea cliffs. The view is spectacular and the panorama enormous, the sense of space being mind-boggling. It is possible to see Ireland on a clear day. The horizon fills everything and seems to extend for miles – but only on a day of fair weather. It can get a bit wild here in this exposed part of Scotland.
(Mull can mean many things in our language depending on they way it was translated from the Gaelic. One of our largest Islands is known as the “Island of Mull”, Mull being spelled “Muila” and pronounced “Moola” hence its name “Eilean Muila”. In the case of the Mull of Galloway the Gaelic is “Maol” pronounced “Mull”. This means a rounded summit or hill, a small mountain or, here, a shaved head – which has translated into a bare headland. If you want to learn Gaelic my advice is – don’t! He he. It will drive you nuts).
France. Brittany. winter time. Short visit in Concarneau at the end of the day at a time where trawlers sailed back to the port.
We could even buy fresh scampis.
Watercolor (Winsor & newton) & brown ik (Faber Castell)
Old fishing trawler – Ink in an A4 Watercolour Moleskine
I’ve been reading up about our bygone fishing industry for a project. Fishing was a huge part of the UK’s and Scottish industry in the 1800′s to the mid 1900′s. There were two main types of fishing techniques. Sailing trawlers either used nets to catch herring, which were once an abundant species or other types of fish, such as mackerel, which were pursued at different times of the year. Cod was fished further afield in the distant waters of the Atlantic. Fish could also be caught on long lines of baited hooks. Thousands of women followed the herring boats as they tracked the fish up and down the coast. It was a recognised “career” for single girls to follow the herring although married women would follow their husbands if they were part of a boat’s crew. When the boats landed their catch, the women gutted the fish, packed them in salted barrels and these were exported to the continent of Europe and as far away as Russia. A skilled girl could gut and pack two or three fish a minute and, because the saltly fish and sharp knifes were uncomfortable and dangerous they bound their fingers with rags for simple protection. For domestic use, and for “long lining”, local women collected bait (mainly shellfish) and baited the “long lines” of hundreds of hooks, carefully storing these in barrels until the lines were “shot” from the boats. The men in the boats had an equally hard and dangerous time, many of the earlier boats were of an “open” design exposed to the seas and wind. Our folklore is full of tales and songs about “great storms” and “fishing tragedies”. Our best remembered is the great storm of October 14th, 1881 where 189 fishermen were lost, 129 from the east coast village of Eyemouth, many drowning within sight of the shore where their helpless families watched in horror. (Read about why all those men were obliged to venture out in foul weather and the part the chuch played in all this)
Although there has long been a memorial to those lost this event still touches a raw nerve and a new one was recently erected. The rocks, that the figures are gazing at, are those the boats foundered on.
My painting is meant to show the type of boat used. There were two main types, the Zulu and the Fifey. This is a Zulu. Some of these boats had up to eight of a crew as the constant trimming of the sails as well as hauling in the lines or nets was back-breaking work. Other countries also had their fishing industries, with their attendant dangers and these should not be forgotten. I often give thanks that I am living in this age.
Fishing boats, Southend Pier, Gigha.
Watercolour/ink on a watercolour Moleskine.
Gigha (pronounced “Gee-ah”) is sometimes known as “God’s Island. It lies off the west coast of Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula and is only about 4 miles long. This drawing is from a photograph I took when staying on the island in 2003, a year after the local community managed to buy the island to safeguard its future. I remember the visit coincided with incredibly hot, record breaking temperatures and I spent three days, painting next to a small beach with a wet towel around my neck. Happy days!