Thursday, 18 December 2014

extract from a conversation

A. Look at that red thing.
L. Where?
A. There.
L. I don't see anything red.
A. (pointing) There.
L. There's nothing red over there.
A. (still pointing) No, over there.
L. I still don't see any red things.
A. (more emphatically, a little frustrated, again pointing) It's there.
L. (pauses) Oh, you mean the low clouds behind that building? They're reddish from the rising sun.
A. Yes. That's it. I didn't know they were clouds. (pauses) They're beautiful.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Thursday, 28 August 2014

8 Ardtornish flowers

Unusually for me, this small bookwork was made more as a reminder of a lovely holiday with some lovely people, rather than being a "serious" part of my practice. I taught the kids (and some of the adults) in my extended family how to make cyanotypes "in the field," exposing them to the Scottish summer sunshine and washing/processing in the open. These are a few of a series of postcards I made once the kids went off to do other things.

Monday, 4 August 2014

mountain study

Every now and then
I go up into the mountains:
fire and snow-
trudging for hours
along the black line of the river
following it right to the crest
or, when the snow's gone
moving up through the forest
to the thin grass and the rocks
the high country-
up there in the stillness
thinking of nothing
only the body moving

extract (section 2) from Kenneth White's Mountain Study, from The Bird Path - Collected Longer Poems 1964-1988

studio table top

hydrangeas from my folks' garden
various found stones (galena, pyrites, quartz, gabbro)

Friday, 1 August 2014

almond blossom

Vincent Van Gogh, Almond Blossom,  1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
I've just returned from Amsterdam with a postcard of this image, now pinned above my table in my studio. I don't think I was expecting to find the work in the Van Gogh Museum so stimulating since the last time I probably really thought about it was as an undergraduate painting student when I was still a teenager. But it's good to be surprised by artists you think of as being so mainstream you hardly dare give them a second though. Crucially, it was looking at this work in the flesh that made me aware of it's beauty.

Monday, 28 July 2014

ardtornish cyanotypes

This image is from a series of cyanotypes I made from plant life in Morven recently. 

dog rose petals and pollen grains, July 2014

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wittgenstein and Eccles

Ludwig Wittgenstein and William Eccles at the kite-flying station in Glossop, England, 1910.

Friday, 11 April 2014

stilled life with moving trees - a bothy project residency at Inshriach

Inshriach Bothy
view from the porch

I arrived during a week of gales. The Cairngorms are windy at the best of times, yet I’m accustomed to being on the brittle granite plateau where the combination of altitude and the persistence of the wind creates a sub arctic landscape, a place where plants hug the land tightly. However because of the wind’s excessive force and unpredictable cloud level, the snow covered plateau became essentially out of bounds.

arrival at the bothy
I found myself walking in the lower areas of the Cairngorms, along the passes, up into the more modest hills adjacent to the plateau, to hidden lochans, and into the forests – Inshriach and Rothiemurchus, generally less familiar territory for me since I usually seek out high places.

The trees became the most dominant part of my experience. Sat in an elevated hollow, surrounded by a wood of silver birch interspersed with dwarf juniper, the bothy is quite protected and sheltered. Unless you know it’s there, or happen to walk close along the trail, you’d probably be oblivious to its very existence. I spent a good deal of time watching the trees and their movement, and listening to their sound, mixed in with the white noise of the River Spey which flowed in spate and flood nearby.

birch, pine, heather, juniper

 stilled life with moving trees (video documentation of my residency)

I came with a loose idea of some work I could make, thinking that a plan would be wise, but soon abandoned it, and learned to leave preconceived notions well alone, and simply be with the place. Nan Shepherd’s text, the living mountain guided me well in this sense, (and, struck by it’s notable absence on the bothy’s bookshelves, I popped out to Aviemore to buy a copy to leave as a gift).

The work didn’t come, but the time to think, and reassess aspects of my life and practice did, and I felt the repercussions of the trip perhaps more clearly once I returned home. I needed the time away, the space to be undisturbed by modern distractions such as the compulsion to check email. Technology has become particularly invasive and guilty of creating a syncopated rhythm to lifes that can be led more simply. 

As someone who has always loved solitude, I don’t think I’d appreciated how difficult complete solitude is however (thank goodness for a battery powered radio playing Radio 4!). Inshriach can be a quiet place, but on reading the bothy book, it’s clear that for most people, residencies here are anything but solitary, and spur on collaboration.

An Lochan Uaine through Caledonian Pine
from the summit shelter cairn of Meall a' Bhuachaille
But the motion of walking is an antidote to too much solitary sitting and thinking, and a journey to the Lochan Uaine, an unexpectedly bright green lochan nestled amongst the Caledonian pine trees of the Ryvoan Pass, became like a visit to an old, dear friend. Onwards to Ryvoan, and some shelter from the wind for lunch, I made a spur of the moment decision to climb Meall a' Bhuachaille, and despite ferocious winds which made standing near the summit difficult, the addictive lure of a vista, of expansiveness, and of physical exertion made it worth while.

the Cairngorms and Rothiemurchus
Back in the environs of the bothy, life settles into a regular rhythm. Wake up, go to the loo (a composting loo a hundred yards from the bothy), light wood stove, place large urn of water on stove to heat, go back to bed and read or listen to radio until bothy warms up, put the kettle on the trangia (I cheated and cooked on a combination of the wood stove and my trusty Trangia 27), have breakfast, shower (deliciously) outside with the water previously heated on the stove, dress, collect wood from the bottom of the hill in rucksack, re-fill the tea urn with water from the Spey, rest of day is for leisure – reading, writing, drawing, walking, eating,.. At nightfall, light candles, last wood on the stove at 6pm(ish) so that the bed platform isn’t too warm later, retire to bed around 9 or 10, ...etc.

On my last morning, I wake up to snow, the landscape again transformed. After a hot outdoor shower, with the snow still falling, I pack my things, then make the couple of trips back to the car parked almost a mile down the trail, food supplies diminished, and my load lighter than when I arrived. The weight of the city had also been lifted, and I'm reminded (if I ever really need such a thing) that part of me needs to be in the wild. I anticipate being reunited with my 3 year old son, so the departure isn't unwelcome in the way it would have been years ago, but the bothy, a perfectly formed small space packed with the essentials for good living, sends me on my way, nourished, and replete.

the bothy at dusk
nautical twilight
book found in the bothy library
a sun dog through the birch trees
the view North
With thanks to Walter Micklethwait and everyone at Inshriach, and to Bobby Niven of The Bothy Project

all images L Punton, 2014

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

a week long residency at Inshriach Bothy

I'm just about to set off on a week long residency at The Bothy Project's first bothy at Inshriach. A week to think, walk, and make in isolation, solitude and peace.

exterior in moonlight (photo Johnny Barrington)

interior (photo Luke Allan)

see for more info.

Friday, 10 January 2014

last light, first light

Last light, Dec 31, 2013, Ardtoe, Ardnamurchan.

First Light, Jan 1, 2014, from the causeway to Eilean Tioram.