Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections – Kurt Jackson

23rd December 2011

In which, as the year comes to its end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

And so 2011 with so many extraordinary moments; drawing the Rainbow Warrior 3 being constucted at a German Shipyard and then painting on her deck as she sailed up the Thames on her maiden voyage,sketching a skanking Lee Scratch Perry on a night time Glastonbury stage, scribbling on a baked St Agnes in Scilly sunshine, bearing witness to the unveiling of Ted Hughes’s stone in Westminster’s Poets Corner and then there was a meeting of minds with my first exhibition at the Redfern Gallery in London but maybe the one time above all that comes to mind is Jura, Spring 2011.

We went back to the Isle of Jura, but this time to the far North end to visit George Orwell’s old stamping ground, Barnhill, in all its harsh beauty. The middle of nowhere, remote, isolated, in the wilds. Having deserted the hire car at the end of the track , the kind neighbour taxied us the final five miles in her Land Rover, dropping us off to land outside the solid stone farmhouse, [next to the still flowering golden azalea planted by Orwell during his struggles to write 1984]. Over looking the sound I immediately started to scribble and sketch while the clouds stayed high enough and the rain kept off long enough to see across to the mainland. I listed through my sky, ‘sea eagle, golden eagle, short-eared owl, buzzard,hen harrier, kestrel’ – the most intense bird of prey saturated hour I have ever experienced. After this introduction the following dreich days were spent either painting in the rain and gales amongst the sodden bluebells, marsh cinquefoil, orchids and bracken, spied upon by red deer and cuckoos or inside drawing and painting an interior frozen in time with Orwell’s gaze permanently watching over me from his portraits on the walls and mantelpiece and the old generator thumping away in the background. Weather dominated days walking the boggy coasts and sunny hillsides to the Corryvreckan whirlpools or just nipping down to my crab pots on the shore. Challenging conditions of soggy paper, soggy clothes and damp feet but with amazing shifting light, a saturated colour pallet and misty skylines, with bird song and Mr Orwell’s lingering presence.