Tuesday 25 August 2009

A Summer Sketchbook - An Exhibition

During the spring and summer of 2009 I was employed by the RSPB to monitor the breeding birds of the north isles of Orkney. I was living out of my campervan; no family ties, kids neither demanding attention, nor dog walking to do, I was alone in unusual lands ripe for exploration. The work entailed visiting the breeding areas during the early morning and at evening time, thus leaving the bulk of the daylight hours for watching the birds. And for drawing them. Occasionally I would seek out new, unexplored areas, but more often I would return to my survey sites and observe my subjects at a more leisurely pace and from a less intrusive distance. This is when I got to see the birds just ‘being themselves’; I really started to get to know them just a wee bit. I also accumulated further data which contributed to a more complete assessment of the birds’ breeding status.

When the opportunity to stage an exhibition was offered, I turned to the many sketchbooks full of scribbles, written notes and colour studies. Re-visiting these images, sometimes several weeks after the event, allowed me to take a new and fresh look at the drawings and the birds which I had portrayed. In some cases I felt the original drawing which I had made in situ was relevant and I reworked the piece only slightly (if at all), adding little to the source image; other pieces, although derived from an encounter with an individual bird or experience in the field, have benefitted from being able to glance back from distance; the salient elements of the experience distilled and refined somewhat. Almost all of the paintings are annotated with the notes made at the scene of the original observation, placing a particular event in time and location. This is my way of interpreting the visual delights of an Orkney Summer.

Here is a selection of works destined for the exhibition. Incidentally, I am going to be publishing a limited edition commemorative catalogue of the exhibition. It will be A5 landscape, 32 pages in colour and will be limited to 50 copies signed and with a unique inscribed vignette. If anyone's interested and would like to reserve a copy, they will be £12.50 +p&p.
Please email (tim.wootton@tiscali.co.uk) to order.