Tomorrow, Friday 23rd June 2017, sees the start of the Rock Trust Postcard Art Exhibition and Auction and I am very excited to be a part of it. Money raised from the sale of my framed piece, Hello Deer Original Sketch, will go to the Edinburgh-based Rock Trust charity to help them keep vulnerable young people off the streets and tackle youth homelessness in Scotland.
It warms my heart that my drawing will be contributing towards a great cause.
As for my drawing Hello Deer, it is a pencil sketch that inspired my original pen and ink drawing of the same name.
I came across this young stag in February 2016 when I was on a weekend road trip in the North West Highlands doing research for one of my creative projects called Landmarks, Landscape and Language. That project resulted, amongst other things, in my two pastel pieces for last year’s Paintbox Summer Exhibition at Riccio Gallery in Dalkeith, Edinburgh.
It’s so cool that one project can produce so many different things, and that the reverberations from it are still echoing now, more than a year later. Who knows what else will come of it?
I remember the day when I encountered this deer by the side of the road. I’d got up early to make the most of the dry and sunny weather that morning and hiked up Knockan Crag, which had stunning views across the Highlands and the coast. I sketched the mountains and took lots of photos for my research and drawings later.
After my hike I got back in my rental car and drove along the road up towards Lochinver. I knew this road well since I’d been on a road trip in this area in 2013 when I fell in love with the landscape and knew I wanted to move to Scotland (I’d been living in The Netherlands and moved to Scotland in 2014).
I didn’t go as far as Lochinver, instead I stopped at the south-east corner of Loch Assynt near Inchnadamph and took some photos, then decided to drive back towards the cottage I was staying at. I had only just got back on the road when I spotted a group of 6 or 7 deer by the side of the road! I’d been on the lookout all morning for any deer, well, for any wildlife, and there they were. Unfortunately, there was nowhere (safe) to stop on that stretch of the road so I accepted that I would only glimpse them and not be able to take photos. The memory of them would have to do!
I carried on in the hope that I would encounter more – because, why not? It was possible there would be more around.
I was right.
Only five minutes later, if that, I spotted another deer at the side of the road and not much further along I saw a lay-by where I pulled in. I grabbed my binoculars and my camera and walked along the verge to get a bit closer. I was aware not to get too close though, it’s still a wild animal and I didn’t want to interfere. It was funny because he seemed to be a bit hidden by some bushes and his head kept popping up from behind them. I wondered if he was munching on the grass below. His antlers were short so I assumed it was a young stag.
He captured my heart and took my breath away.
As he wandered off, out of nowhere a second head with full grown antlers popped up right next to where the young stag had been! My heart jumped with joy. Was this a father and his son?
I stayed still and watched them both as they slowly started to walk along and up the hill, fading into the distance with their colouring blending into the landscape to the point I could no longer make them out (can you spot them in the photo?).
In the meantime, a couple of cars stopped by the side of the road – not the lay-by I noticed – and people got out to take photos. I wondered whether this spooked the deers a bit and why they had started to walk away.
I returned to my car with a big smile on my face and I was eager to start creating new wildlife drawings, my mind spinning with ideas and images.
When I got back to Edinburgh I used my photos, and my memories, of the encounter as my inspiration to make this Hello Deer sketch and then the pen and ink drawing. I wanted to celebrate this beautiful animal and express its beauty, or the beauty that I see in him, and how much I love wildlife. They have such spirit. I’m thrilled he will be featured in an exhibition from tomorrow.
I also love learning how different cultures and traditions see animals and symbols, and what they mean to them. Particularly cultures that are still very much in touch with nature, the land and Mother Earth. I always learn something about myself, too. For instance, when I see a particular bird or animal frequently, and at random times and places, I wonder whether it’s there to give me a message, something I need to know…or it’s there just for my pleasure!
As an example, in Native American Animal Medicine Cards the Deer symbolises Gentleness. And funnily enough, at that time I needed to be reminded of gentleness as I was going through a challenging time. Especially being gentle towards myself. But it’s only now looking back that I make the connection that these deers were trying to tell me that!
I hope you can make it along to the exhibition and enjoy the variety of work that is on display there – I may arrange a time and date when I’ll be at the exhibition so you can meet me and chat with me about my work if you’re interested to find out more. Keep an eye out on my Facebook page for this (make sure you like my page to stay up to date!).
Rock Trust Postcard Art Exhibition And Auction
Friday 23rd June 2017 – Friday 14th July 2017
Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm
Sat 10am – 5pm
Sun 11am – 4pm
Visit the exhibition at Summerhall then bid online for your favourites at: https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/postcardart2017#none
And if you like my Hello Deer framed sketch please make sure you bid on it! I’d love for it to go to a good home where it will be loved and cherished, and for it to raise money for charity at the same time. Thanks!