Central Fife Open Studios 2019

I’m taking part in a local open studios event over the next couple of weekends, Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th and Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th. The venue is a small workshop space and gallery which I currently co-run in Inverkeithing in Fife. I’ll be sharing the space with my co-director of the space, Mary Farrell, who is a jeweller and printmaker. We’ll have open doors from 10.30am-6pm on all four days. Open studios gives me the opportunity to talk to interested visitors about what I’ve been up to over the past year, and talk a bit about inspirations, processes and what I’ve been developing. I really like how unexpected connections and developments can be revealed when you put together in a space work from different sources. I’ll mostly be showing work I’ve done at two courses which took place over several days each, one by Fraser Taylor in Fife, and one with Andrew Paterson in Edinburgh, both tutors with whom i’ve done classes before.

You can pick up brochures at Maker, which gives details about all thirty artists and makers taking part across central Fife.

Maker, 2a High Street, Inverkeithing, Fife KY11 1NN


drawing and printing

drawing and printing



The Hill

I don’t know where else I’ll find a rustling wind 

Moving and reminding me of life.

Everywhere seems so still

But here the earth still shakes 

Shimmies and dances,

So of course soon it will be killed. 

Like everywhere else of natural value

Humans are like death machines

Sucking away the rustling wind.

My own despair on seeing behind the veil of reality

Of how we are here, but arbitrarily

And the universe traverses on

Its timelines untroubled by our small concerns

And by this I mean the birth and the death of humans

So with our brief and imperfect senses

How I feel we should live here but lightly

Is not shared. So they continue to seal the tomb 

Of the earth.

The small and temporary bliss I feel when I stand here on this hill

Is like the small and temporary bliss of living at all

what I want to do

I don’t want to flatter people, I want to excite them. I want to challenge them a little, or a lot if they can take it. Perhaps i’ll practice the art of challenging people just as much as they can take, so that they dig deeper each time. I think being flattered is a theme of our times, and that it is poisonous to people’s ability to think for themselves, think more holistically or think of themselves as part of communities.

painting and perfuming

I find lots of similarities between composing a perfume and painting. Creating accords is analogous with mixing  raw colours to make the perfect colour to convey what you are imagining or what from life you want to recreate. Paints, like perfume materials have different textures, opacities, weights.. Putting them together in a painting is about balancing instinct and control, with each colour/texture suggesting or demanding what needs to be done around it, what needs to happen next…And its all about your responses and memories and dreams... Yes, I would go so far as to say that perfume is the main medium I am working in at the moment.

Here in Scotland there is an embryonic interest in perfuming by independents, or smaller brands. There are a couple of people making perfume here I believe, and some critics and bloggers, but its yet to really take off. This interests me too, the combination of being a country in political flux and struggling to express itself culturally and the potential for something like perfumery. I’m fascinated by the idea of expressing the nature around me that I love, the feelings it evokes, and landscapes, and also the emotive and philosophical responses to that land and natural world. 

Quote: Giacomo Leopardi

“We say that someone of serious intelligence and determination is bound to achieve great things in the world, that surely he won’t remain obscure, whatever his circumstances. But the habit of prudence in matters requiring careful thought inevitably precludes quick, deft resolution; prudence retards progress and delays execution. Because of this, men of great, hard-working genius are often, almost always really, prisoners of their own irresoluteness - they are indecisive, shy, tentative, uncertain, fragile, inept at following through. Quite unlike those who rule the world, where decisiveness, not prudence, gets more done more quickly - that’s why the world is always left at the mercy of mediocrities.”

from Zibaldone di penssieri

Vero Kern

I have been wearing Onda Voile de Parfum for two days after hearing the sad news that Vero Kern has died at the age of 78. I love Onda, a deep, dark and mysterious vetiver, spicy, woody and honeyed perfume. I also have it in eau de parfum which has a wonderful passionfruit top note which makes it exciting and a bit loud. I’ve worn the latter during open studios or other times when I want to say I’m here and I’m just as you find me, no compromise! I find Vero Kern very inspiring, an lady full of life and vigour and sexiness. I’m inspired by her story that she only started as a perfumer in her 60s. I believe she was also a friend of Andy Tauer, another independent perfumer I admire, and there is a wonderful short film of the two of them on one of their regular walks in the local park together, smelling lilac blossoms. With Vero Kern’s passing I renew my intention to explore the vivid and so-alive world of smells, and materials, and perfumes, and I renew my intention to just start being damned uncompromising. A fire in my belly for social issues, planetary action, love for nature, and for independents, people making things they love and pour passion into, making where they live and work places full of life and sensory joy. I go into 2019 taking no prisoners. Thank you Vero!

Vero Kern (image taken from Grain de Musc)

Vero Kern (image taken from Grain de Musc)

Poem: ee Cummings

into the strenuous briefness


handorgans and April


i charge laughing.

Into the hair-thin tints

of yellow dawn,

into the women-coloured twilight

i smilingly

glide. I

into the vermilion departure


(Do you think?)the

I do,world

is probably made

of roses & hello:

(of solongs and,ashes)