Over the past few weeks, I have been returning to the Clyde for inspiration. I've been painting Welsh scenes as well, but this new work has given me a great deal of satisfaction. It has it's roots in my time at the yards on the Clyde, some 32 years ago now...but that year spent at Kvaerner Govan, then another year working for UIE in Clydebank were epic times for me...they provided a lifetime's worth of images.
This painting is a reflection on how those days are well and truly gone- Glasgow isn't the workshop of the world any more.
I don't know whether this vessel in the painting is a ship of lost souls, a latter day "Great Eastern" sailing towards the ocean; but it started to feel like that as I painted it. The last great ship is on the ways, but there are no people about.
This painting took about a week, and developed from sketches, slowly metamorphosing as I painted, then scraped off, then painted again. It all adds up to a palimpsest, which is highly appropriate, as wherever you walked at the yard in Govan or at John Brown's in Clydebank, there were signs of the victorian era. Rails set in the cobbles, old cranes, an ancient steam locomotive, forgotten at the back of the pattern store. An aladdin's cave for urbexers, but it's all gone now. I managed to save an old drawing I found of the rail lines in the yard- it's astonishing how complex it all was.
My last month at Govan ended with the launching of the "Norsea". Gigantic mobile cranes and machines moved about between the old Victorian "Titan" cranes, snaking among old buldings cluttered about with railway vans used as "howffs" (bothies or cabans) by the men. I was assigned to the rigger's team, a gang who set up scaffolding and took tea in an old shack, shared with three cats, all on the yard payroll. The cats were "Lucky", "Blackie" and "Fluffy"...all very friendly except for "Fluffy," who was unapproachable.
The guys were just great (once I had proved to them that I wasn't afraid of heights, by climbing to the top of the ship's hull up their scaffolding) they were always encouraging and supportive.
I had many adventures in the yards- perhaps if I do another Clyde painting I will recount some more :-)
I'm hoping this is going to be an ongoing journal showing progress on my own work- and showcasing other artist's who inspire me with their work.
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