KYST 37 – from Balka Harbour to Salthammer Odde (Snogbæk), 16.09.18

For at læse denne KYST 37 blog på dansk, se her… See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 37 Late again, I arrived panicked and bleary eyed at Balka’s tiny harbour, annoyed that I had missed the sunrise by a few minutes. Once I had unpacked at the end of the pier arm however, I was greeted by the most incredible combination of light and water, as the first rays of sun broke between the clouds and lit up the layer of sea mist that hovered just over the sea in the bay. With my telescope I watched a fisherman tending to his nets lost in the orange glow of the mist. On the shore, two women on horseback thundered up and down the beach, laughing with an unbridled abandon. Just when I thought the morning couldn’t get any more spectacular, a lone kingfisher darted out and flew low, dart like, over the surface of the mirrored sea, and disappeared into the sea mist. When the kingfisher returned and perched on a nearby rock I resolved to not paint and just soak in the atmosphere instead. I couldn’t though, and soon got overinvolved with a reflective gull. The previous week I had been teaching a field painting course at Bornholm’s Højskole, and the lessons of the week were still fresh in my memory. I tried to not get too upset with the reflective gull disaster, and just carry on (‘…don’t judge and keep working’). I lost myself in some herring gulls feeding in the bay, the sea mist long having been burned off by the rising sun. Before moving off from my perch at the end of the pier, where I had now been for many hours, I tackled the solar reflections on the surface of the water. I wanted to show how the green seaweed, rocks and innumerable jellyfish below the surface of the water replaced the reflections of the sky towards the bottom of the visual plane, but failed. I finally packed my things and started to walk on Balka beach towards Snogbæk, the day’s destination.  I stopped again rather quickly, wanting to capture the sweep of the bay, with Snogbæk pier in the far distance. As I was painting, the first flocks of graylag geese flew overhead, returning to spend the day at Nexø Sydstrand, last week’s start point. I quickly drew the mutating shape of a large flock of several hundred geese, as it passed by. As I continued walking along the beach my eye was caught by the rills, folds and patterns in the sand caused by the action of the waves lapping at the shore, together with the tracery left by mica, crushed mussels and seaweed. A sandbank created a lagoon of completely still water that reflected the clouds scudding by in the dynamic skyscape. I made two studies (see also top) I carried on along the beach all the way to the end of the bay at Snogbæk, where I set up the M60 and had lunch and a really good sleep. On waking I looked towards Salthammer Odde, the great shelf of grey balka sandstone that juts out from Snogbæk and continues under the sea, attracting a rich diversity of sealife and birds. All week with the students we had been concentrating on tonal values and working with ink, which I had bought along. I tried to capture the movement of the feeding frenzy on a bank of seaweed, where gulls, geese, crows, pigeons and starling all worked together feverishly, hoovering up sandflies and the like. I worked again with the ink, trying to capture the dynamic shapes and silhouettes and making inky marks with sticks, feathers and seaweed. I packed my things and walked on to Snogbæk, taking time out to look and listen before continuing with painting again. I turned my back to the town, an eclectic and unpretentiousness mixture of tourist cafes, bars, summer houses and fishermen’s’ huts, and looked instead towards the sea. After a detour to the local supermarket I sat on the sandstone bedrock, hidden amongst the vegetation, and looked with my scope towards the multitude of gulls preening, sleeping and standing stoically in the early evening breeze. The day finished quickly and I had no time to draw the six curlew that arrived just as the sun was setting and my lift arrived.

KYST 37

Weather report = Mostly sunny with passing clouds, increasing. Temperature between 11°C and 18°C. Wind between 2 and 6 m/s from the west/south west. Hours of sunshine: 7 hours.

Lessons learned – all week I’ve been teaching – and stressing the importance of taking those lessons, and applying them ‘in the fied’ once the course had ended. Easier said than done.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.08 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 30 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 39 species (3 new ones = kingfisher, shoveler, pintail: running total 123)

Other stuff = there were very few passerines about, save for starlings, sparrows, wagtails and a lone swallow. There seems to be a lull – the waders have already moved on, but the other birds are waiting.

People talked to = 8 (1 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 1) In my head – 20%, 60% 100%… elation and fatigue after an amazing course at the højskole… thinking of the diverse collection of people that made it such a wonderful week (including my mum). Thinking of how to retain that energy and put it into practice, and thinking of things to do better next time.

The Natural Eye, SWLA Exhibition at Mall Galleries

I have been lucky enough to have no less than five works accepted for the SWLA exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, this October. Dead chuffed. In addition to the five works (all of which are currently in the Recent Works section of this site), I will also be displaying some of my sketches from Scotland, as one of the bursary award winners. I’ll be travelling to the UK to see the exhibition, which I’m looking forward to very much. ‘The Natural Eye’ showcases some of the best nature inspired art around, in a fantastic setting.

Here, at last year’s Private View, Sir David Attenborough gives a speech about wildlife and art. Total geezer.

Ten Days on Christiansø

DSCF7039I had the most amazing 10 days on Christiansø, also known as Ertholmerne –  the tiny group of islands off Bornholm, where I had an exhibition in the minute Palivaren Gallery. I had been to Christiansø several times before, but only on day trips, so I jumped at the chance to stay there a bit longer and get to know the place  a little. No cars, no animals (apart form birds and amphibians), incredible organic granite architecture and some fantastic and eccentric people. I really fell for the place.DSCF7038

One of the things that really interested me, especially as I had just been at Bass Rock with 60,000 breeding gannets, was ‘Suleima‘, Christiansø’s famous solitary gannet. It first arrive in 2011 or 2012, and has been there ever since. Thousands of miles from any other gannets, it must’ve been blown off course during a storm. It sits rights in the harbour and is a most obliging model. I got carried away telling the story to my kids, and I’m thinking I might make some sort of illustrated story about it.DSCF7040

Scottish Seabird Drawing

DSCF7048Really the most amazing week in Aberlady, Scotland (the following is summary I sent to SWLA for their website)

Late last year I was lucky enough to be awarded the SWLA’s Seabird Drawing Course Award for July 2014. I had first heard of the award when trawling through the SWLA website one autumn day, and I thought I might as well give it a go and apply, as I had nothing to lose. Actually the first thing I did was fire off a quick email to check whether I was eligible – I wasn’t sure whether I was too old, or whether the bursary could be awarded to non-UK residents (I live in Denmark).

Once I had received a positive reply confirming that I was indeed eligible, I set about making a short application and getting together a few examples of my work. Actually it wasn’t hard at all articulating what I could get out of the course – I was desperate to spend time with other artists and see how they worked. DSCF7049

I arrived in Aberlady a day or two early, and by the time I met the other course participants on the Saturday evening in the Ducks pub, I had reached a fever pitch of excitement. It soon became apparent that many if not most of the other people had been on the course before, some several times, and straight away I became aware of the warm, friendly and supportive atmosphere. There was an intriguing mixture of people and abilities, from comparative novices to professional artists, and it became clear quite early on that this was not an ‘art course’ in the typical ‘this is how you make olive green’ sense. Rather, the course was an opportunity for a wide range of people to work together – to discuss and compare and feed off each other – all under the watchful eyes of the tutors.

DSCF7060The next six days then, were spent visiting various seabird colonies in the environs of Aberlady – principally the local estuary, Dunbar, St Abbs Head and Bass Rock. We would meet in the morning at the hotel, pick up our lunch packs, and drive together to one of the localities. The day would be spent looking, drawing and painting, and then we would head back to the hotel for dinner. After dinner we would have a very informal session where we would lay our day’s work out for each other to look at. The four tutors were all extremely approachable and provided support, encouragement and advice in very different ways, which was really a breath of fresh air.  A particular highlight was looking through Darren’s portfolio on the last day. Some of the other participants also got to see John Busby’s studio while I was on Bass Rock. I would have liked to have seen more of Greg and John T’s work. The other course participants were no less inspirational and encouraging, and a real eye-opener for me was seeing how they worked and discussing their work with them.

DSCF7062A quick word on the places we visited. On the first day I couldn’t understand why everyone was getting so worried about the weather, and whether or not we would get to visit Bass Rock. Surely it couldn’t be that good? It was, and then some. I will never forget my two days on the Bass – deafening noise, an unholy stench, a stinging wind, and gannets as far as the eye could see – truly an other-worldly place. St Abbs head was almost its equal, an incredible collection of cliffs and rocks that, after a day or two of drawing, you couldn’t help taking home with you.

We were lucky-ish with the weather, and whenever it did rain, it really did help to see other people huddled under their umbrellas, desperately trying to record what they were seeing. Back home a spot of rain usually sent me scurrying for cover, and if there is one lesson that I have learned from this course, it is that the best, most exciting work is often that produced when you are being most challenged by the environment.

Peregrines at Vang Bruddet

DSCF7033This Spring I’ve been visiting a place called Vang, here on the island of Bornholm. Vang is the site of a large granite quarry, which is still operational today – though in a very limited sense. Peregrines returned to Bornholm early this century, after an absence of 50 years or so, and this year a pair decided to nest on one of the ledges of rock in the Vang Quarry. DSCF7032Once I found out about this I’ve been visiting regularly and watched the chicks grow from dirty white balls of fluff to fully fledged apex predators. The peregrines were kind enough to nest on a ledge where they were easy to see. In fact, the spot where I sketched them was stable, sheltered from the wind and afforded fantastic views. Perfect. DSCF7035Actually, I was surprised just by how still the falcons were, once they had fed the chicks, and sometimes hours went by with little or no movement. Not that I would ever criticise a bird for being too still, but sometimes I forgot about the birds and became more interested in the way the shadows moved over the rocks with the passing of the day.DSCF7031

Some of the more finished stuff I did can be seen here.

Old News

The text below is copied from my old website (from Spring 2014) gullbarnaclemiddlebig

Christiansø

This summer I will be exhibiting at the Palivaren gallery on the tiny island of Christiansø. Can’t wait – I’m going to make a holiday of it and camp on the island while the exhibition is on.

Bursary
In June 2014 I will be travelling to Scotland to take part in the SWLA Seabird Drawing Course, for which I have been awarded the bursary. Very chuffed to have been chosen, and looking forward to it immensely.

SWLA 2013
I have a painting chosen for this year’s SWLA exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London – their 50th anniversary. I am especially chuffed because David Attenborough, no less, will be opening the exhibition.

Cheng Kim Lok Gallery
In January of 2014, I will be exhibiting at the Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust’s Cheng Kim Lok gallery. Looking forward to that one already.

Exhibitions 2013
On the 22nd of March I will be exhibiting a couple of paintings at ‘Svanekegaardens Censurende Udstilling’ – a Open exhibition with four Danish selectors. In July of this year I will be holding a one-man exhibition at Galleri Huz 16 in Sandvig – I look forward to presenting some of the linocuts I am working on at the moment.

Jan 2013 – NaturBornholm commsission
I’ve just completed an exciting illustration and design commission for NaturBornholm – a couple of panels describing commonly found plants and some activities for chilren and families. I did the illustrations and the graphic design and I’m really happy with the result, which will be uploaded soon in the gallery section.

UK trip, Autumn 2012
I’ve just returned from a trip to the UK, where I got to see my painting in the SWLA exhibition in the Mall Galleries, as well as visit a whole host of galleries, large and small. It was inspirational to see other ‘bird’ artists’ work, none of which I’d actually seen in the flesh before. A really high standard which leaves me a little overwhelmed, but also, and most importantly I hope, inspired…

SWLA 2012
I’m very happy to get a painting accepted for this years’ annual Society of Wildlife Artist’s exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. This is the most prestigous showcase for Britain and Europe’s most exciting and interesting wildlife derived art, so I am really chuffed to get in…

Ude af Balance
September 2012. This is something a bit different – a huge anamorphic installation, painted directly on the floor and walls of the gallery. The idea is that, when viewed from a specific point in space, the floor painting appears 3-D. See youtube video here, and more photos on the gallery.

Fugle
August 2012. Really happy to be asked to join this exhibition of bird paintings, sculptures and ceramics with some of Bornholms and Denmark’s best (bird) artists. including John Olsen, Inge Lise Westman og Astrid Anderberg (Swedish actually).

Rasch Udstilling
8th to the 25th of February, 2012. An exhibition at Gallery Rasch in Rønne, Bornholm, together with Esben Bagger, Per Jensen and Ulla Lyme.

Teaching
Looking forward to a new round of teaching. Children at Bornholm’s brilliant Billedskole, and adults at the equally fantastic AOF, where I will also be taking life-classes.

Observation: Inspiration
2nd September to the 30th of September, 2011
Marine Studios, Margate, UK
A really interesting group exhibition at Marine Studios in Margate, along with Lindsay Sekulowicz and Tacy Kneale. Photos in theexhibition section on this website.

Tryk2 Gruppen, mk II
4th September to the 16th of September, 2011
Galleri 2rn, Årkirkeby
This is a group exhibition of prints I am partaking in, along with the following Bornholm-based artists: Alice Østerbøg, Angelika MoussonLene Degett, Annelise Mark Andersen, Andreas Østergaard, Anne Cirkola, Jette Elmann Olsen and Josva Kleist. Galleri 2rn is a lovely small gallery that is connected to a fantastic independent printing workshop, Tryk 2. Photos in the exhibitionsection on this website

Linocuts
I’ve added a new section of limited edition prints on this website. Really, really excited about exploring this medium.

DOF Tidsskrift
I’ve done some illustrations for DOF Tidsskrift magazine. A goshawk chasing some pheasants, and some other assorted birds.

Logo
I’m doing the logo for Bornholm’s DOF (Bird organisation). A razorbill. It should be fun as the form and colours (black and white) of a razorbill lend themselves to a striking design.

Dinosaurs mk II
The illustration is finshed now, and can be seen here and here.

Dinosaurs
I’ve been asked to make an illustration depicting Bornholm’s eight different dinosaurs, to be used in NaturBornohm’s dinosaur exhibition. This is an exciting commission, one I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into. More later..

20 x 20
I’ve been included in quite an exciting exhibition held by ‘Bornholms Kunstforening’ (Bornholm Association for the Arts). 64 artists have been invited to submit five or less works, all of which can fit within a 20 x 20 cm square. I’ve produced five watercolor landscapes, all of which are based on sketches I’ve done in the last couple of months of the wintery skies and landscapes here on the island (it’s been quite a winter). I’m looking forward to seeing what else is going to be on the walls.

2011 Manifesto

During 2011 I’m hoping to expand the commercial illustration side of things and get some more commissions. I’m working on some illustrations for Moby Dick, one of my favourite books, and looking forward to getting stuck into some linocut prints I’m working on. Also I have a freezer full of interesting dead birds waiting to be painted – hawfinch, cormorant and rough-legged buzzard amongst others. I want to try to improve the dynamic tension between the medium’s needs and my wishes. I’m really looking forward to doing more landscapes and skyscapes – getting out there more. But most of all I’m looking forward to being in my new studio which is nearly finished. Bring it on, I can’t wait!

Tryk2 Gruppen
29th August to the 10th September, 2010
Galleri 2rn, Årkirkeby

This is a group exhibition of prints I am partaking in, along with the following Bornholm-based artists: Alice Østerbøg, Angelika MoussonLene Degett, Annelise Mark Andersen, Lone Schiøtz Nielsen, Ben Woodhams, Jette Elmann Olsen, Josva Kleist. Galleri 2rn is a lovely small gallery that is connected to a fantastic independent printing workshop, Tryk 2.

Ben Woodhams – Fuglemalerier
2nd July to the 1st Augsut, 2010 (dates tbc)
NaturBornholm, Bornholm

Bornholm is very proactive in celebrating its wonderful and diverse natural environment. NaturBornholm is an ‘activity centre’, and Bornholm’s largest tourist attraction, that focuses on Bornholm’s geology, flora and fauna. They also show temporary exhibitions, and I am lucky enough to be showing there in the height of the summer season.

Naturligvis – en Udstilling med Hans Henning Pedersen og Ben Woodhams
22nd March to the 16th April, 2010
Galleri Rasch, Bornholm

My first ‘proper’ exhibition on Bornholm. See here for pictures and posters. Galleri Rasch is a wonderful independent gallery situated in central Rønne, Bornhom’s largest town. The gallery shows a mixture of local, national and international art, showcasing emerging artists as well as more established names. My exhibition ‘Naturligvis’ (= naturally – sounds better in Danish) was with Hans-Henning Pedersen, a Bornholm sculptor/wood turner who makes the most incredible wooden vessels. Hans-Henning is a well-resepcted name in these parts, so it was good for me to show with someone of his experience.