Please play the audio below to listen to Ros introduce the exhibition
At the start of June the Kyles of Bute was to have been visited by a flotilla of Fife boats. This event would have been the fifth such Regatta, an event designed to celebrate some of the most iconic and beautiful yacht designs of all time,bringing them back to their birthplace in Failrie and the stretches of water that knew them so well. (History of the Fifes)
To mark this event Tighnabruaich Gallery invited a selection of it’s artist to produce new work in response to the Fife Regatta. From portraits of the Fife boats to explorations of the beautiful water and coastline of Argyll’s Secret Coast,each artist was encouraged to consider the important role in which the Kyles, sailing and boats have played in the history of our communities.
Although, sadly, the 2020 Regatta has been postponed, we decided to continue with the exhibition, challenging ourselves to create an online, virtual festival, the Secret Regatta.
The exhibition includes paintings, collages, prints,photographs and sculpture by artists Jane Hunter, Heather Nevay, Paul Boyle,Chris & Michaela Goan, Tom Shanks PAI RGI RSW, Mary Taylor, Deb Wing, Alastair Houston and Kevin Fleming. Exhibited alongside these pieces is work created by the children of the local schools, Tighnabruaich and Kilmodan Primary.
Throughout May a series of challenges were set for the children via video and live Google Meet sessions. The project was designed to encourage the children’s creativity and to aid them in producing a finished piece. The children’s work is for sale and all money will be donated towards an Arts Fund for both schools.
Water plays such an important part in our life on the Kyles. We see it every day in all it’s changing moods and behaviour. High tide,when the water laps gently against the sea wall, or throws spray, waves and seaweed up and over the road during a storm. Low tide, when you feel you could walk to Bute, marveling at the steep incline, imagining being under the water when it rises, exploring the life under rocks and seaweed, discovering crabs, starfish, sea anemones, butterfish and guppies. The sun glints and shimmers on it’s surface, creating a glitter path, the wind whips and swirls up spray and white horses, or the water transforming into a smooth, flat mirror, reflecting the hills and the colour of the sky. Every day is marked by the mood of the water, forming a backdrop to all our lives.
When I first took over the gallery a visitor informed me,in all seriousness, that it would save me much time if I acquired a boat and used it to travel to work each day, Colintraive to Tighnabruaich. This reminded me of the summer trips I would take on my Dad’s put-put boat, across to Tighnabruaich for an ice-cream, a sausage sizzle at Wreck Bay, or an adventure to Inchmarnock.
It also reminds me of Mary Taylor, whose work is in the exhibition, and of how her journey to school in Dunoon started on her father’s fishing boat. There being no ‘New Road’,Mary would travel to Colintraive on the water, jumping ashore onto the rocks,and trekking to the road to catch the bus.
Boats were essential in days gone by, a way of daily life,the rhythm of the sea directing those lives.
So, after the initial disappointment and despondency upon hearing of the Regatta’s postponement, an idea began to float and take shape in my mind. As I considered and mulled it over, it began to grow and develop, picking up speed. Why not create an online, virtual festival celebrating not just the Fife boats but also our own relationships and stories of the water and coastline of the Kyles.
I have spoken before of my fascination in the stories that are sparked by an artwork and by the conversations that are shared between folk. The Secret Regatta provides that same opportunity, only on a slightly larger scale!
There is much to be learnt from a shared celebration of our Secret Coast and the communities which live on it.
Not only is The Secret Regatta an exhibition of my artist’s explorations and experiences, through the month-long project with the schools, the local children, their families and teachers, have also participated and shared their thoughts, stories and artwork.
For the next two weeks we are inviting you to join and share with us your experiences of the Kyles of Bute, your memories, your photographs, your artwork. Perhaps,like me you learnt to sail at Tighnabruaich Sailing School, or, like my son,you have fascination for the Lifeboat and the Puffer Boats. Perhaps you grew up in the villages and can remember life when boats were more useful than cars. (Get Involved)