I am a freelance Artist, illustrator, comic creator and Potter based in Lochcarron in the North West Coast of the Scottish Highlands. I run ‘Balnacra Pottery’ a studio space in a 200yr old former blacksmiths building East of Lochcarron at the community owned ‘Smithy Community Hub’.
I have been a volunteer in local community groups for many years. I was a retained Fire Fighter Crew manager for 12 yrs, ran a comic con, also worked in youth support work and much more.
I have over 30 years experience of running, organising & delivering a wide range of Arts and Crafts workshops, classes, training programmes and events, including Hi-Ex, The Highlands International Comic Expo which ran from 2008 – 2012. I have been exhibited internationally and have appeared on TV and radio.
I was trained in Ceramics at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1980’s and trade as ‘Balnacra Pottery’ 1995 – present.
photo by John Michel O’Shea.
The Inspiration for my work, comes from a fascination with Animals, Archaeology, History, Anthropology, Ancient Art. How people have always related to the world about them. The natural cycles of the seasons and of life. Symbols and Stories. Living in the Scottish highlands has moulded a passion for all things Pictish and Celtic.
This exploration of local history and decorative symbols led me to an interest in the far east to Siberia and to the work of the Scythian, and specifically Pazyryk culture from 2000 years ago. Mummies were found, tattooed like our ancestors the Picts. Their Art style is very reminiscent of the Celtic and Pictish work, particular a golden deer motif which can be found stretching across Asia.
This has been a major influence on my work. These designs have become so much part of me that I have re-designed them as my own tattoos. A major ambition for me is to travel to The Altai Region myself, to explore the similarities between Scythian & Celtic /Pictish art. In august 2010, I made it as far as near the Volga, in Tatarstan. That adventure of a lifetime reaffirmed and confirmed the call of the steppes.
I also love local history, working outdoors, Pre-Raphaelite Art, folklore, fairy stories, myth & legend, tribal lore & lifestyles, I get lost for days in museums, have a giant comic collection and get very excited about piles of rocks, growing food, |Bee keeping, Crofting, playing in the woods and making things from sticks. I love pottery because it is so elemental, the combination of water, mud, fire and air combining to create unique and unexpected effects.
Working with people and teaching art and pottery is infinitely rewarding, accessibility for all is central to my teaching practice. I use person centred self directed methods to allow people to explore their own relationship with the medium in their own time, while guiding them with technical challenges to build their confidence in their own abilities and creativity.
- Group shows 2014 Beauly gallery & Inchmore gallery.
- Image Duplicator group show, Orbital Gallery London 2013
- Ceangal final show 2013
- Ceangal final show 2012
- Group Christmas shows 2012, Inchmore Gallery, The schoolhouse Dornie, Beauly Gallery.
- Comic concept work exhibited in Scotland House, Brussels.
- exhibited in Edinburgh and Inverness with ‘Reactions to Vysotsky’ August 2011
- Contributed to Trees for Life charity Exhibition 2012
- Joint exhibition in Weatherford Offices, Aberdeen spring 2011.
- Participated in Rock Trust charity postcard art exhibition 2011
- Participation in Highland Russian connections charity exhibition in the City of Novokuznetsk and Mariinsk, Siberia
- Winter 2010- Inverness airport, Figurative paintings.
- Winter 2010-2011 Inchmore Gallery
- Exhibition in the Shishkin Gallery, Yelabuga Tatarstan, Russian 2010, of works produced during by the 5th International Arts symposium of Yelabuga, theme of ’Breath of the Epos’.
- May 2010 Highland open studios event.
- July 2009 Inchmore gallery-Firefighter art.
- June 2009. Highland Open studios event at the Lochcarron Fire station
- Participated in Panel discussion at Bristol Comics Exp 2012 with launch of Book Bayou Arcana.
- Involved with Ceangal. International Artists residencies project. 2012 & 2013
- contributed to Comic No Code, a pearl Jam tribute anthology book.
- contributed to Haiyan Benefit anthology.
- ran ‘how to draw comics’ workshops at Belladrum music festival 2011
- did design work and involved with & appeared on SKY1 programme ” the great Treehouse Challenge”
- contributed to ‘The Spirit of Hope’ Japan relief fundraising Comic book put together by the Comic Book Alliance. BBC report HERE
- Appearing as a Guest at The National Irish Sci-Fi Convention- Octocon 2011
- was a guest at 2D the Northern Ireland Comics Festival 2nd -4th June 2011 Blog here
- Exhibitor & Panelist at Bristol Comic Expo 2011 ‘Slaughterman’s Creed’ and ‘Women, Politics and Cartoons’
- Appeared as a Guest at The National Irish Sci-Fi Convention- Octocon 2010
- Participation In the 5th International Arts symposium of Yelabuga, Tatarstan, Russian 2010, theme of ’Breath of the Epos’
- mosaic interpretive panels on bio-diversity & heritage for the Smithy Heritage Centre 2010
- March-April 2008, Recycled Art installation/seating area at Alness Academy,
- Participated in the Highland Printmakers ‘Lochcarron Animation project’ 2007, produced “The Giant of Lochcarron” short film.
- August 2007, worked in 4 west coast primary schools to produce banners and murals for the Blas Festival. Textiles and mosaics.
- 20th July 2008. ‘How to draw Comics’ with the BBC ‘BLAST’ Tour. Inverness.
- Widely Published in Various UK and international graphic Novel anthologies and other publications, as artist, colourist and writer. 2002 – present
- Own autobiographical Graphic Novel “Stuff that Happened” published by Markosia Sept 2017. Guest at and book Launch at Fort Con2.
- Second autobiographical Graphic Novel ” Stuff that Happened- Before Covid” coming soon in 2022, date to be announced.
- The Scottish Artists Union.
- Lochcarron Business Association.
- Scottish Potters Association.
- The Historical state preservation area of Yelabuga, Tatarstan Russia.
- The first minister of Scotland’s collection.
- Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue service.
- various international private collections
- Digital Eden project 2006, Bursary to create animation film for the Inverness film festival.
- shortlisted for 2010 Highlands and Islands Fire & Rescue service Commitment to Excellence awards- Community and Youth involvement.
- BA hons Art and Design (Edin). Ceramics 1983-88
- OU. Introduction to Psychology.
- Certificate in person centred counselling
- many vocational training courses & certificates. details on request