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Bonspiel 2009

Bonspiel 2009

Spirit of The Highlands Collection

Edition Size 250

£325 framed

Frame Size (outer) 74cm[w] x 48cm[h]

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“Welcome to our Highland studio and this Limited-Edition Print, published from my Masterworks ‘Bonspiel 2009’, one of four oil paintings in the suite, inspired by our day spent at an impromptu Bonspiel in 2009 (curling match). It felt very natural, that in this first and largest of the four paintings that I should really concentrate on the characters and activities that went on in the Bonspiel itself. After all, I felt very lucky to be there. The Bonspiel had been organised at the last moment. These days it is very difficult to run a Bonspiel out of doors, because there are so many rules and regulations; the ice has to be a certain thickness and it is very difficult to know exactly when to organise one and to get everybody there at the same time. I felt it may be the last time that I was ever able to see one of these going on out of doors. Although the landscape behind plays a very important role, showing the light effects of the day, the way the sun reflects down onto the ice and, includes the valley and the trees behind; it nevertheless acts as a backdrop for the figures themselves. I liken it to the figures playing on a stage, with the landscape as the stage itself.

SUBJECT – In 2002, along with the rest of the UK, we were gripped by the unfolding excitement of a little-known sport that was being revealed at the Winter Olympics. Although around for at least 500 years; the sport itself had only returned to the Olympics four years earlier, after a break of some 70 years.  Visit the British Pathé news archive and you will find rare black and white footage of the annual Grand Match, traditionally held on the Lake of Mentieth, going back to the early 1900’s. Thousands poured onto the ice, resplendent in kilts and bonnets, to sweep the ice and throw the stones. Not since 1979 had an outdoor Grand Match taken place and although hoped-for in the ideal freezing weather of January 2010, it never came to be – the issue of crowd safety and risk assessment thwarting all plans for such a happening!

The term ‘curling’ comes from the curl of the stone as it slides across the ice and a Bonspiel describes the gathering of clans or alliances in a tournament; mostly these are now held indoors, or on specially constructed outdoor rinks. As such, an outdoor Bonspiel is now becoming an even rarer sight and is precisely what we had resigned ourselves to. For although a subject on the list of paintings to include in the ‘Spirit of the Highlands’ collection, we had all but given up any hope of chronicling such an event – that is, until in the last days of 2008, upon overhearing a chance remark from one of the local curlers at a social gathering to which we had been invited.

Which is how, a couple of days later (the first days of 2009), we found ourselves invited to witness an outdoor Bonspiel on one of the frozen fields of Morvich farm, in Sutherland, where members from a number of clubs were busily clearing the snow and preparing the ice for their required sheets (the playing area).

COMPOSITION & METHOD – each figure-packed painting in this suite was worked in ‘miniature’ style, varying in size, from what we term a Grande Miniature, down to something a lot smaller; each composition based on different criteria. These are paintings filled with light - the whole spectrum of light - offered by the low-lying sun of this Mid-Winter day.

The traditional techniques I employ in my oil paintings involve a succession of layers. With each layer the overall colour and balance across the entire painting is refined, in order that I can achieve the impression of space and light which I am aiming for. Layering is essential - it allows the initial build-up of texture through to the finer layers of glazes and tints. Not only this, it allows the gradual build-up of colours, from dark to light and the finishing touches of absolute highlights.

There is absolutely no rushing this process, it requires meticulous attention and considerable patience; for the paint surface must be discovered and explored - it cannot be contrived.

This is what makes painting particularly exciting for me and especially so in using traditional techniques. The result is almost inevitably a discovery, an unexpected delight that can be exploited and it is this element of the unexpected that drives me to push the limits of my work.

As always, we thank you for reading and watching, with best wishes from Eileen and myself,”

Paul Taggart

Artist : Author : Presenter  : Producer

  • Only 100 prints in each edition (unless otherwise stated)

  • Limited to stated quantity

  • Individually signed by Paul Taggart

  • Individually numbered by Paul Taggart

  • Published exclusively by Paul Taggart's Studio

  • Each print individually passed by Paul Taggart

  • Printed on archival acid-free paper

  • Acid-free window mount fixed with archival tape

  • Hand-framed with polychrome 'glass' to prevent damage in transit.


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Bonspiel 2009

‘Bonspiel 2009’ Limited-Edition Print published as a fund-raiser for the North Highland Curling Trust – with £90 from the sale of each print remitted by Paul Taggart and Eileen Tunnell to the Trust.

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