We Are All Artists Now – or Mad?

This week is Artmap Argyll’s open studios initiative. Artmap is an organisation which supports artists. One of its key public events is a ‘red dot’ studio trail showcasing Argyll artists’ work, in their own studios, to a wider audience. there are 55 artists in Argyll and Furnace has its very own artist, Mike Masino, No. 31 on the map. Mike’s seascapes and landscapes are spectacular, and his art reflects his world travels. What I really like from some of the artists are the impressions or abstract paintings and particularly those exhibits in textiles or wood. Artmap is open until the 28th August.

I was in the bathroom the other day (don’t ask) looking at the patterns or pictures in the wooden panelling that covers the walls and the side of the bath.  There is always something to see in the grains of certain woods, and White American Poplar is very picturesque.  The woods natural beauty with dark and light colours can imitate a number of things; even a loch scene of shaded foreground, sunlit water, shadowed background of hills and a bright sky with clouds.  It’s amazing what a bit of imagination or a good eye for observation can do. 

We had a guest stay with us once in one of our rooms with a similar wood panelled bathroom, who questioned, why use wood in a bathroom?  ‘Er, hello, I thought, have you not heard of the Scandinavians and their use of wood in saunas and bathhouses

Anyway, I want to regale you with my artistic bent, as I’ve had an idea of producing calendars for 2024 made up of the imagery that I (possibly you as well?) can see in the slate tiles covering the floor throughout Powdermills.  The way that each large metre square slate tile has been sliced reveals a wonderful array of indents, markings, waves, and images that seem to form pictures of countries (there is one of the Gulf of Mexico), a camel caravan, rabbits, a person with a rose in their hair, another Lochside and a meerkat.  

I had suggested to Johnny that we could sell the calendars.  The cool, dark grey of the slate, I think is particularly alluring, and with a built-in picture, a large print calendar might sell.  I pointed out to him the image of the Mull of Kintyre on one of the slates in the kitchen.  He was not impressed.   I reminded him of the main rule of marketing, ‘Be the first’, and that there wouldn’t be many artistic calendars like this.

Do you know the classic short story, The Yellow Wallpaper’?  It was written by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1892 and is a feminist masterpiece about 19th century attitudes to women’s mental health.  It is also lauded as horror fiction; the woman in the story sees pictures in the wallpaper and goes mad. 

I mention this book as The Guardian had a recent article about a Belgian university in Ghent launching a Taylor Swift inspired literature course.  Its academic, Elly McCausland, was struck by the parallels between the singer’s lyrics in her songs, The Great War and Mad Woman and English Literature, with recollections particularly of Sylvia Plath’s poetry and Perkin Gilman’s writing.  McCausland wants to use Swift’s work as a springboard to encourage her students to explore century’s old literature.

I’ve only just got into Taylor Swift.  Her album Folklore is amazing. I’ve been encouraged to listen to Swift by two daughters who love her and are going to see her in concert next year, practically, in the only city they could buy tickets for – Krakow in Poland.  Swift is so talented, and her use of words, and literature, is very intelligent, full of atmosphere and youth.  I particularly love her songs, Cardigan, Seven, August and Mad Woman, which reminds me that I’d better stop looking at patterns in slate and wood and get back to the drawing board.  

Anyone for homemade strawberry jam?  ‘Powdermills Jam – jam with boom!  I could have been a lyricist.