At the end of a recent talk at The Fruitmarket Gallery, I told of my desire to be a lighthouse, guiding people through the journey of creating their own books from conception to completion. How apt then to arrive here, at Bressay, on Shetland, for a short residency.

Everybody needs to be able to press the ‘Reset’ button once in a while. I am very grateful to the Shetland Amenity Trust and Sumburgh Head Art Residency scheme for the opportunity to concentrate on my own work in a uniquely pertinent surroundings. The engine room has fabulous machinery (and acoustics.)

This is home for two weeks.

One has to stock up on materials first….! Shetland sketchbooks from The Peerie Shop.

Also important to put up a mission statement: Forget Reactive Be Responsive. OK.

I began painting lines of hill.

And established a daily habit of walking up above the lighthouse. Great perspective from up there.

These landscapes will become book covers.

Most mornings i’d hop over the wall to see what the water was doing, and wave to the pairs of fulmars on the cliffs.

Radio Four is a lifeline when solitary. Not a bad studio view eh?

There was treasure to be found on the jetty below the lighthouse.

Every morning at 7am the Northlink ferry from Aberdeen would steam by. Sometimes i’d go and wave a welcome in my pyjamas.

Slowly ideas made their way onto paper.

The Annual Shetland Lighthouse Bookart Workshop took place in the middle. They created a series of bindings in a slipcase. Great gang. Great work.

Afterwards I found these discarded pages and glued them down in sequence.

Creating a concertina. To be continued…

Finished binding twenty-one Lines of Hill.

Wrote a poem.

Painted pages sea blue.

Watched the Swan go by.

Made posters to spread the word about an Open Studio.

Reveled in the light. Content.

Cold mornings. Clear skies. This cloud made my day!

Have you ever heard a lighthouse gate singing in the wind?!

All too soon, it’s time to show what’s been achieved. And offer the chance of making a book. Tea and shortbread.

Unique bookworks. Inspired by Shetland.

I’ll miss this.


Rumi said: “Be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder.”

I want to be a lighthouse.









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