I have a feeling that I will be posting things about this residency for a few months, as it has gone by so quickly and I have been so focused it has been difficult to keep up with things as they have happened. There are a million things I’d like to share – okay, maybe not a million, but at least ten or fifteen more things. Let’s see … starting with the wonderful send-off Scottish Tea my friends had for me before I left Chicago, then the day trips I’ve taken since being here, my studying of the various cliffs and their resident birds, friends I’ve reconnected with and new friends I’ve made, different themes in artwork that have emerged over the period of time I’ve been here, how different paintings came to being, my pencil sketchbook and watercolor sketchbook, how we’ve gained 4 minutes of sunlight every day and now it’s 8:30 pm and it still looks like the sun hasn’t fully set, and of course what it’s been like to live in the Occasional Keeper’s Flat for the last month. I’m sure I will think of more after I get home and begin to digest the whole thing.
For now I’ll just share a bit about opening day of Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, which opened to the public for the 2016 season on Friday morning. This meant that the Marine Life Centre, Gift Shop, Radar Hut, Lighthouse Tower and Cafe opened their doors and were ceremonially announced by the sounding of the foghorn.
The foghorn has not been functionally in use since 1987 but it and the three diesel engines that run it have been immaculately preserved, so it still sounds the same as it did 30 years ago, and this is a deep bellowing sound that reverberates right through you and the ground you are standing on, and echoes far out into the sea.
The engines started sometime after 11:30 am and then we heard a clattering sound which precluded the first and most powerful bellow out into the world. Then I guess the pressure needed to leave naturally so the horn went off every few minutes, always following the clattering sound, getting softer each time until it stopped about an hour later.
Then I got to go up into the lighthouse tower, which was surprising in its interior elegance. It is not a tall tower but the spiral staircase and additional steps to get up to the top are steep and narrow. Lovely photo opportunities!
I mentioned an exhibit of work I had done while here, located in the cafe, recently named the Stevenson Centre (after designer of most or all Shetland lighthouses, Robert Stevenson, grandfather to Robert Louis. See more about that here). I’d call it a very informal exhibit, and additionally I had little watercolors in the gift shop and people could visit my little upstairs studio if they wanted to.
Also, my day was made by a delivery of flowers from my parents (and their cat) to wish me well at the opening and this weekend. XO Mom and Dad! It was a really good day.