Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Canoe is on tour again
for 2009 as part of:
Place, Identity and Memory
Books made by artistsOpens 23 May to 28 June 2009, Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries, Scotland.Then the exhibition tours libraries and other venues across Dumfries and Galloway, ending at Stranraer Museum, 55 George Street, Stranraer, DG9 7JP, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland between the 26th September – 31st October 2009, to coincide with the annual Literary Festival at nearby Wigtown, Scotland’s Book Town. This is a travelling exhibition by IRIS. The aim of IRIS is to develop Dumfries and Galloway as a recognised centre for book arts in Scotland and internationally.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Exhibition News - 2008.
The canoe is now on tour!
2nd - 21st June 08

Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre
Lochmaddy, North Uist, Western Isles,

Tel: 01876 500293

1st July - 30th August 08

Lyth Art Centre
Lyth, Wick, Caithness,
Scotland KW1 4UD

tel: 01955 641 270

Thursday, February 22, 2007

First in Scotland then in Norway.
On the 18th September 2006, my mother found a message in a bottle on a beach near Durness village in the far north of Scotland. The message was written by Finnley (age 7) from Australia while he was on holiday with his family in Durness. The message had only been in the sea for 1 week. I took it to Durness Primary School. Mr Bruce's class were excited about the message. Every pupil then wrote a short message and drew a picture on my handmade paper. I also wrote a message. Everything, including Finnley's original message was put back in the bottle and thrown into the sea again.
I made contact with Finnley in Australia to tell him what we had done. His family were delighted at the news.
You can see more pictures about the message in a bottle in my blog archive.....for September!
3 months later...
it's found in Norway!
On Tuesday 20Th Feb 2007, I received a small package with a Norwegian postmark. Inslide was a letter from Hilde Klaussen, a teacher at Steine Skole in Bo i Veteralen, Norway. This is her message:
The letter you send out in a bottle from Durness in September was found in Bo i Vesteralen on January 7th 2007. Bo is a small coastal town in northern Norway (we're sending a map too so you can see where it is).
Frank Pedersen was the man who found the letters outside Skarvagen in Bo. He took them to our school and there we agreed that 3rd grade should answer you and tell you how the letters were found. They have written some words for you in English and also made some drawings. Now they are excited to see if you would like to write back to them. We have also sent a copy of your letters to Finnley in Australia.
From Hilde Klaussen (teacher) . If you want to know more about our school, you can look at:
This is so exciting! I will certainly be writing to Frank Pedersen and all at the school in Norway. I have already e-mailed to tell everyone in Durness this exciting news. I am also posting the package from Norway to Durness Primary School so Mr Bruce and his class can see them too! They are also excited about this news of the bottle find!
What fun!
Here is an article which was published in the Sunshine Daily Post, Queensland Australia about Finnleys' bottle!!

How a Palmwoods boys message in a bottle got northern Europe talking
6:00a.m. 12 March 2007 By Rae Wilson
IN this world of instant communication, it is refreshing to hear how a Palmwoods lads use of pen and paper landed him friends in Scotland and Norway.
Finnley Cassidy, 8, made headlines on the other side of the world when he cast a plastic bottle with a note from the most northern tip of Scotland - inaccessible for most of the year - while living there in 2006.
Indulging in childhood fun of yesteryears, his parents Brendan and Danielle helped Finnley send a message in a bottle that read: My name is Finnley. Im eight years old. I come from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. I wonder where this will go.
On its first journey, the bottle was picked up three beaches away by an artist who passed it on to a local school.
After adding letters of their own, the students sent the bottle out into the North Sea again.
It traversed the North Atlantic Sea to arrive at a remote beach in northern Norway in February this year.
Finnley said Year 3 students from a Norwegian school had written letters to him in Australia.
It felt really cool. Its like Im famous, he said.
They said, like, Hello, this is such and such and Im nine years old and Im a student at Steine Skole school in Bo in Norway.
Now I want to visit Norway and I really want to go back to Scotland to Durness (where the family cast the bottle).
I told my whole class and they said they wanted to do a message in a bottle and they want to be pen pals with the Norwegian students.
Mum Danielle said it was hard to tell who was more excited, Finnley or her and her husband.
We found an isolated beach and, just as a joke, put a message in a plastic Coke bottle, she said.
It must have followed a current of some sort to get to northern Norway ... and for somebody to be on the beach that time of year is rare.
Finnley was very excited. He found it quite bizarre but I think it was nice to get an understanding of the world and different countries.
But I think we were more excited. It was like a childhood fantasy that it would actually happen.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Journeys over land, sea and through time.

My ideas start from the origins of ‘log books’. A piece of wood trailed from a ship to determine its speed through the water was called a 'Log Chip'. Records of these speeds were written down to be kept. This book was called a 'log book'. Other sources indicate that in the early days of sailing ships, the ship’s records were written on shingles cut from logs. These shingles were hinged and opened like a book. The record was called a 'log book'. Later on, when paper was readily available and bound into books, the record maintained its name. Perhaps this meaning has come from this: a 'log board' consisting of two parts shutting together like a book, with columns in which are entered the direction of the wind, course of the ship, etc., during each hour of the day and night. These entries are transferred to the 'log book'. A folding slate is now used instead.
The contrast of handmade paper production and uses in the east and west continues to intrigue me. Particular materials and techniques chosen for construction, the size of the ‘books’ and their content directly relate to specific sites. ‘Books’ and paper objects made were digitally photographed on site as if they were archaeological finds, before being placed in the ‘boat’ to start a new journey. These photographs also became an important part of the final artwork and display. My display case is made from an old canoe from Balnakeil. It was transformed into a display case by Alan Herman, a woodworker from Balnakiel Craft Village. It stands at just under 6ft. My exhibition is in No 1 Bard Terrace. This room was also my studio while in Durness. The canoe will continue it's journey on tour in Mackay country during 2007. Contact Ronnie Lansley for details:

The collection of images printed on my handmade papers.

Georgina Coburn reviewed my exhibition for Northings, if you want to read it, follow the link:

Also see by Norman Gibson:

by Tina Rose for Craftscotland:

and also by Tina Rose for CraftHighlands:

Kelp papers
Kelp was traditionally collected from two areas in Durness Parish, the stony beaches of Geodha Brat and Burragaig. Kelpers worked on these shores from the 1760’s to the 1940’s. Kelp was dried, then burnt before being sold. Burnt kelp was an ingredient for making glass and soap. Kelpers wages were between £1 and £3 per ton. These papers are 1m long andmade from kelp collected on Burragaig beach, mixed with linen rag with embossed words.

Balnakeil Bay Bank Notes
On the 22nd August 1847 or the 12th August 1849, an emigrant ship called the Canton was Shipwrecked off the rocks at Clach Mhor Na Faraid. Some accounts say that all except a black pig were drowned, while others say only the crew were lost. Many things were washed ashore, including Clydesdale bank notes. These had been cut in two diagonally making them triangular in shape. One suggestion is that this was done for security reasons by the owner(s). One half went with the ship and the other would be brought or sent later to wherever the ship was headed. To be reunited on completion of a safe passage. The first Clydesdale Bank Note was issued on the 7th May 1838. In this box there are papers with watermark designs based on this first bank note. Notes were originally signed by hand, I’ve added my own initials. I photographed the bank notes on Balnakeil Bay where they were found.

Loch Meadaidh peat ~ Loch Caladail limestone
On Saturday 5th August 2006, I buried 2 identical books made from white linen fibre in the boggy ground next to Loch Meadaidh which is in peat (acid ground). On the same day I also buried 2 identical books made from the same white linen fibre in the boggy banks of Loch Caladail which is in limestone (alkaline ground). I kept one book as a control. I returned on Tuesday 10th October 2006 to retrieve my books. I dried them out in my studio then compared the results. Over the 9 week they were in the ground there had not been any significant change in the papers apart from a slight colour change. The five books are inside this box.
Loch Meadaidh
Loch caladail.

Sango Sands Seapapers
On Thursday 3rd August I threw this book into the sea at Sango Sands. The pages of this chunky book were made from a variety of different handmade papers including linen fibre, ellie poo, all my out of date herbs and waste paper. I wanted to discover what the effects of the sea would have on the papers and the binding. It looked alive while floating in between the waves. Now dry, and still full of sand, it looks like it has been on an exciting journey.

Grow your own hut circle ~ for limestone soil
There are many hut circles in the landscape around Durness. In this box you’ll find a kit to grow your own ! The size is based on one at Cnoc na Moine which has a diameter of 8.5m (28ft). This area is limestone ground. I purchased a mix pack of wild flowers for Calcareous Soil – (chalk and limestone) and added them to the paper pulp. Species Include :- Agrimony, Wild Basil, Ladys Bedstraw, Birds-foot-trefoil, Burnet Salad, Wild Carrot, Cowslip, Oxeye Daisy, Rough Hawkbit, Common and Greater Knapweed, Black Medic, Wild Migonette, Hoary Plantain, Field and Small Scabious, Selfheal, Kidney Vetch, Yarrow, Yellow-Rattle/Field Scabious. The flowers will grow when the paper is planted and watered.
Hut Circle at Cnoc Na Moine.

Grow your own hut circle ~ for peat soil
There are many hut circles in the landscape around Durness. In this box you’ll find a kit to grow your own ! This one has a diameter of 8.5m (28ft). I purchased a mix pack of wild flowers for acid (peat) soil and added them to the paper pulp. Species Include :- Wild Basil, ladys Bedstraw, Betony, birds-foot-trefoil, Meadow Buttercup, White Campion, Cats-ear, Oxeye daisy, Rough Hawkbit, Common Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Ribwort Plantain, Ragged Robin, Perforate St Johns-wort, Scabious Devils Bit, Selfheal, Common Sorrel, Common Toadflax, Yarrow, Yellow Rattle/Field scabious
Hut Circle in the Back Garden of No 1 Bard Terrace!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Achiemore Side School ~Cape Wrath Academy
Achiemore Side School on Cape Wrath opened after 1834 and closed in 1947. It has also been know as Cape Wrath Academy! While open, it was under the authority of Durness Higher Grade School (now Durness Primary). Ten children attended the school in the earlier years, dropping to only one pupil at the time it closed. Achiemore side school was very small. Length 694cm x width 322cm, with a small porch measuring 152cm x 208 cm. All that is left are the foundation stones. I made a series of papers from banana skins collected from the Sango Sands Oasis restaurant in Durness. Banana skins mixed with linen made a texture similar to the stones. I added double banana skins for David Hird, as this is one fruit he doesn’t eat! David is one of the Cape Wrath tour bus drivers and has written a book about Cape Wrath due out in the spring of 2007. With the help of Jean Addison and Mike Fitch from Balnakeil, we went back to Cape Wrath to join the papers together in the shape of Achiemore side school on site. I’ve added rusty coloured papers to mark the corners, as there was rusty metal in each corner stone. There are many travelling services, which visit Durness including a mobile bank, cinema and library. Now there is a travelling school! I unr0lled Cape Wrath Academy in the playground to the side of Durness Primary School. Mr Bruce and his class all stood inside Cape Wrath Academy, now in Durness!

Donalds Top Ten!
Donald’s top ten wild flowers for Durness: gentian, eyebright, knapweed, wild pansy, orchids, mountain avens, Scottish primrose, grass of parnassus, thrift and harebell. Inside this box you’ll find prints made from my stone carving to illustrate each flower and also their seeds. There are so many flowers in Durness Parish, that I decide to ask the local ranger, Donald Mitchell to choose his favourite.