Abandoned Car, Shetland

Abandoned cars are a feature of the landscape in Shetland. This one is in the initial stages of decay.

Abandoned car, off the Vesquoy road, Walls, Shetland. 23rd July 2021, 5:30pm

Here is another abandoned car:

Shetland: vehicles in space

There’s a lot of empty space in Shetland. As I walked around, sometimes I encountered abandoned vehicles. Here is one. This was the last of a sequence of such car wrecks on a track.…

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Shetland 2021 – Poppies

These poppies were in the vegetable garden.

Poppies, Burrastow. 1 July 2021 on watercolour paper

These poppies were so stunning that I had to try to draw them. There and then. They are also ephemeral.

In a few days the petals had dropped making splashes of scarlet on the grass.

I drew this on special paper: handmade watercolour paper from the Vintage Paper Company. It is very heavily sized and takes the colour well. It’s also stiff, and easy to use out-doors.

The red is Transparent Pyrrol Orange waercolour from Daniel Smith.

Shetland 2021 – Fish farm debris

On the coast near a place called Breiwick, The Quilse, there is a heap of strange tubes. These are from the local salmon farm.

Fish farm debris. 18th July 2021 in Sketchbook P1

They make huge loops in landscape.

These black tubes seem to be indestructible. People find all sorts of uses for them: fence posts, cattle grids, boat slipways. I imagine they would make rather fine musical instruments. I have never heard of anyone using them for this.

But their primary use is to create the salmon cages that float out on the shallow seas in the area.

Picture from “Scottish Salmon Think Tank” website. See how big the structures are!

I saw these tubes on a walk from the Historic Site. I’ve drawn in this location before. In this sketch, you see the black tubes as the small scratchy lines in the centre distance.

Fish farm debris, 13th August 2019

New Year 2021

Happy New Year!

My New Year card for 2021 shows a telephone kiosk.

New Year, 2021, “Connection”, woodcut 6″ x4″, on Japanese Kozo paper

I am of a generation for whom the telephone kiosk was, at one time in my life, an important feature of communications. You looked for them. You found them. They were either working or not. The inside smelt of old metal, coinage, leaves and urine. The phone was heavy and cold. The thick cord was twisted. You had to have the right coins. Sometimes coins jammed in the slot, or went straight through the mechanism without registering. So if you were experienced, and organised, you had a whole series of coins of different denominations ready to put in, in case the first one didn’t work. If your call was important, or if you needed to write something down, it was helpful to have a friend with you in the telephone kiosk, standing by with the coins, poised to enter them rapidly as the pips went. There was a risk-based calculation about what denomination of coin to enter, and in what order. You might enter small change first, while you worked out if the person you wanted was in, then drop in the big money for the important conversation, so that the pips did not cut you off at a critical point. You might enter a variety of change at the beginning in the hope that some of it would be returned if the call was shorter than you expected. But your money was not always returned.

Connection, Woodcut.

Above all, a telephone kiosk represented hope: the hope of connection. That’s my hope for 2021.

Also in the woodcut I put some people. These might be the three wise men, looking for hope and salvation in a humble building.

I based my woodcut on phone boxes I have encountered recently. It is a K2 phone box, like the one at Lower Marsh, Waterloo. You can tell, because it has six rows of windows.

Here is work in progress:

The background gold colour is, amazingly, watercolour: Daniel Smith Iridescent Gold. The red is Schmincke relief printing ink. The paper came, via friends, from “Paper Nao” in Tokyo. It is kozo paper, I think K-148, and brilliant for hand-printing. It doesn’t crinkle, it takes the colour well, and it’s really strong so it doesn’t tear when you pull it off the plate.

I like phone boxes. They appear in various of my drawings, see for example, these posts:

Some previous New Year Cards are here:

New Year 2018

Here are my greetings for the New Year, sent as cards. They are woodcuts, two plates. The orange/red colour was printed first. The black colour is the Schminke “Aquadruck” black relief ink diluted with extender kindly lent to me by Connie at East London Printmakers. Her extender was from the Caligo range, and was slightly … Continue reading “New Year 2018”

New Year 2019

Happy New Year! I made a woodcut. This is a greetings card, about 7″x5″. It is from two woodblocks, one orange and one blue. Here is work in progress at East London Printmakers: In the background you see the Albion press I used for printing. It is a wonderful cast-iron machine. As well as the … Continue reading “New Year 2019”

#Inktober2020

Here are my Inktober drawings for 2020:

Inktober 2020 prompt list

What is inktober? It’s a drawing challenge. There are prompts each day in October. The challenge I set myself is to do a drawing for each prompt, in ink, square. You can see the prompts here and on Inktober.com
Why do I do it? It’s different from my “normal” work. My urban sketches and other art generally take several hours, and are from life (non-fiction).
I do the inktober drawings quickly, in less than half an hour normally, and from imagination (fiction). Inktober jolts me into other worlds. It’s also a challenge, and enjoyable. I also like to see what other people draw, from the same prompt. The drawings are posted on instagram with the tag #inktober2020.

I did it last year for the first time. It surprises me that I can do it.

Sketching on the journey South

On the ferry from Lerwick to Aberdeen I had an “outside” cabin with a window. From there, I had a view of LK62, named “Research”.

Despite the name, this is not a research vessel, but a trawler. It was launched in November 2018, according to a very informative article in Fishing News.

Aboard a quite different vessel, the Northlink Ferry, I arrived in Aberdeen the next morning. Aberdeen was in lockdown, and I planned to spend as little time there as possible, just two hours, before my train left for the South. My idea was to sit in the sun outside the ferry terminal, eating my packed breakfast, before a gentle stroll to the railway station. Ha! I arrived in Aberdeen in the middle of a rainstorm. Roads had become rivers. On the periphery of my vision, a drain cover had lifted, and the water rose from it in a translucent pillar. I struggled towards the station through floods and wind.

…the floor was covered in a thin layer of water….

Aberdeen station was a huge glass tent, with the rain battering, and lightning visible, dimly, through the roof covering. It also resembled all the tents I have ever known in that the floor was covered in a thin layer of water. I sat down damply on a damp metal bench. All the trains were cancelled. Fortunately, I had some banana cake. I drew a picture. Then I found a helpful official and a bus.

The bus was going to Edinburgh. I drew a picture on the bus. After having been in Shetland for three weeks, I noticed that there were huge trees, everywhere. The sun came out.

On the bus: wind turbines, fields, barns, and TREES.

Shetland: Lera Voe phone box

This is the Lera Voe phone box, which is on the road between Burrastow and Walls.

The Lera Voe phone box

The phone box is a landmark. This year it was renovated, and fitted out as a sanctuary and small room. There is no phone in there any more, unless you bring your mobile phone with you.

Henry Anderton did the renovation. His project was partly financed by a reward he obtained for having found a message in a bottle on one of his beach-cleaning outings. You can read about it in this article from the BBC, published in February 2020.

The article says of Mr Anderton: “He has bought the phonebox, near Walls, for £1 and been supplied with the regulation red paint from BT. He said: “We’ve now launched a crowd funding operation to help out the renovations – we’ve got to find a door first.”

Evidently he found a door, because when I visited in July the phone box was complete, bright red and in great shape. There are shelves and a seat inside.

I wanted to draw the phone box with Lera Voe in the background. This is the view from the field behind the phone box. You can see the voe, and the hills beyond. The road is just behind the phone box in my drawing. “Voe” is a Shetland word meaning “sea inlet”.

Here is work in progress on the drawing.

Here is the article from the BBC mentioned above, as a PDF file.

I have drawn phone boxes before.

Here is a group of phone boxes in Smithfield, London:

Phone boxes in Smithfield, EC1, London. See this blog post.

Here is one in Austin Friars, EC2, London: see this blog post.

These phone boxes , which were called Telephone Kiosks, were designed by Giles Gilbert-Scott in the 1920s and 30s. Giles Gilbert-Scott was a prolific architect, who also designed Cambridge University Library, the North Wing of the Guildhall in the City of London, and Bankside Power Station which is now Tate Modern.

The phone box at Lera Voe is a “K6” phone box, designed by Gilbert-Scott for the jubilee of George V in 1935, following his successful design of the K2 phone box in 1924. The K6 is distinguished from the K2 by the embossed crown, and the fact that it has 8 rows of windows, rather than the 6 rows of the K2.

It would be possible to date the phone box had I been more careful in drawing the crown. The crown is painted red on the Lera Voe phone box, as it was on the original phones boxes. Only in the 1990s did BT start painting the crowns gold.

There is a whole history of crowns on phone boxes. Here’s a summary [data from Wikipedia and “The K6 project” ]:

  • From 1926 to 1953: the Tudor Crown was used, first on the K2 then on the later editions including the K6.
  • From 1953 onwards: the St Edwards Crown was used, except in Kingston upon Hull
  • Then in 1955 the Scottish Crown started to be used, in Scotland also in certain other places.

So if anyone happens to be passing the Lera Voe phone box, I’d be very grateful for a photograph of the crown, to see which one is on there.

Update:

Thank you to a kind friend for sending the photo below:

Crown on the Lera Voe phone box: clearly a Tudor Crown

This is a Tudor Crown. This phone box therefore was installed some time between 1935 and 1953.

Shetland: vehicles in space

There’s a lot of empty space in Shetland. As I walked around, sometimes I encountered abandoned vehicles. Here is one.

Drawing the car wreck

This was the last of a sequence of such car wrecks on a track. Having passed two, towards the end of a long walk, I encountered this one, the third, and thought I would take a rest and draw it. The car number was even on there.

Here’s “Chieftain”: a huge and solid vehicle. He is out in the wild, perhaps not “abandoned”, but he is evidently not in daily use, which is a pity, since he looks very useful.

I tried very hard to describe the heaviness and strength of Chieftain. He is also very large. I should have put a few birds in too, for scale.

Shetland: walk to the lighthouse

I walked over to the distant headland, called Whites Ness. It was a long walk.

The walk round the peninsula of Whites Ness is way-marked.

OS Maps: lighthouse, Vaila Sound

When I reached the end of the peninsula, I saw that there was a lighthouse marked on the map.

I wondered if it were really there. Would it be a real lighthouse, or maybe simply a buoy off the rocks?

The path was not very well marked, and seemed to be mainly uphill. I was a good way through what was already quite a long walk. And I had to walk back. But I kept on going. It seemed an unlikely location for a lighthouse. Of course I had in my mind those lighthouses I have seen, built by the Stevenson family in the 18th Century, red and white striped, towering over cliffs.

Here there were relatively mild rocks, smooth grass and a few sheep.

But then, against all expectation, there was the lighthouse. I was delighted. There was no-one around to whom I could exclaim: Look! Look! There really is a lighthouse.

It was not a lighthouse like the one in your head. It looked a bit like a prop from a Dr Who episode of the 1960s, or perhaps some construction which had been assembled from assorted parts of IKEA flat-packs. But it was a lighthouse, beyond all doubt. I sat down and drew it.

It was hard to find somewhere to sit down so that I could be sure that my art supplies were not going to take an impromptu roll down the slope and into the sea. There were a selection of rocks, none at quite the right angle. I chose the safest, and drew my picture.

Then I packed up my things and started on the long trek back.

That evening a friend produced a useful coastal navigation guide, which informed me that this lighthouse was: “Fl.WRG8s16m9-6M”. We decoded this as: Flashing, White Red and Green, with an 8 second repeat, 16 metres above sea level, visible 6-9 nautical miles out at sea, on a good day. Anyone who is more familiar with the notation, please correct me if I have this wrong. I also found a map online.

Shetland: garden flowers

In the polytunnel there is fennel. I learned that you can eat the flowers. They have a very sweet aniseed flavour.

Oranges, Hybrid Woundwort, fennel flowers.

I became adventurous. There are other edible flowers in the garden:

Edible flowers and herbs from the garden

Salad with flowers, and fishcake.

In the evening, the sun shone through the petals of a lone poppy.

I admired its tenacity, out there on its own.