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Latest Paintings - Heritage Collection

Latest Paintings - Heritage Collection
Miniature oil painting of Arbroath Smokies is latest addition to Artist & Author Paul Taggart's Heritage Collection.

Iain’s Auchmithie Legacy”
OILS ON GESSO PANEL - ORIGINAL PAINTING SOLD

Smoked fish is of course synonymous with Scotland and apart from the ubiquitous smoked salmon, another form of smoked haddock is attracting attention from far and wide – one that has been protected for future generations through the passionate intervention of the Spink family, who pursued Protected Geographical Indication status for the process.

We first heard of Iain Spink, the multi-award-winning producer of ‘Arbroath Smokies’ on the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, when he won the coveted BBC Radio Food Producer of the Year in 2006. Having watched Iain smoking his fish at the Highland Field Sports Fair in 2007, I had included his image as part of the commemorative oil painting and Limited Edition Print of the proceedings at Moy, although I didn’t get a chance to actually speak to him on that occasion.

Last year however, we finally got the opportunity to introduce ourselves and discuss the possibility of doing a dedicated painting as part of my intended Heritage Collection. A little while later Iain popped in to see us with a suggestion. How would I feel if he were to set up the whole process for me in the fishing cove of Auchmithie, where the Arbroath Smokie originated?

Which is how, on a late November day, we found ourselves driving hundreds of miles down the east coast of Scotland to the remote fishing village of Auchmithie, immediately north of Arbroath.

The designated morning did not auger well, with lashing rain and a bitterly cold wind, but there was no turning back, especially as Iain had given up his precious time for me. As we approached Arbroath the weather slowly began to change and to our joy on reaching Auchmithie the rain had ceased, with the sun dramatically breaking through the clouds. The cove is relatively small, protected by high rising sandstone cliffs; typical of this stretch of the east coast of Scotland. I knew the sun would soon be skimming the water as it worked its way behind the cliffs, to disappear from view. Time was not on our side and this was no mean process for Iain to set up. Happily there were a few boats resting on the pebbled beach and Iain’s father had very kindly let Iain bring along some of his collection of antique baskets, nets and knives with which the fishwives originally prepared the smokies. So, while Iain made his initial preparations I set up a couple of still-life possibilities for another miniature to add at a later date and another story to tell.

Iain’s passion for his family’s heritage in the fishing industry is infectious, which goes a long way to explaining his commitment to keeping this unique tradition and process of Arbroath Smokies alive. We very much looked forward to capturing the whole process from beginning to end and were fascinated as Iain went about his work, just as the fishwives did in the 1800’s.

I had been really looking forward to this painting and already had a strong impression of the image in my mind’s eye before we even visited the cove at Auchmithie. However, on arriving I soon realised that the successful outcome of the composition would demand a combination of landscape, portrait and still-life painting. After taking careful note of the salting, preparation and smoking of the fish, it became obvious that to encompass the entire process within a miniature, would require careful planning out and positioning of the various elements.

To this end the various effects of light and atmospheric perspective were brought into play. Glazes and tints became essential tools in creating the effects that would render them natural elements within the scene. Note how the smoke is used to separate the fish awaiting the smoking process, from the two beached boats behind them. The finished painting is one of the most complex I have had to achieve in the Heritage Collection thus far.

See the original in my Work In Progress Gallery

Also available as a Limited Edition Print