Highland Heritage Collection
Edition Size 100
Frame Size (outer) 56cm[w] x 61cm[h]
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“On the second Saturday in November, a convoy of vehicles that includes tractors, trailers bearing ploughs and family cars can be seen heading towards one of the farms, for the annual Easter Ross Ploughing Match, where they will compete for various trophies.
This was the sight that greeted us on a day shrouded in heavy mists, rolling in off the Cromarty Firth. Not for some while have working horses been present, given the expense of maintaining and transporting these beautiful creatures; but luckily for us this team are local and provided the ideal subject for our proposed fund-raising offer to ERPA.
SUBJECT - This is a conversation piece, neither portrait, nor landscape. I wanted to portray the strength in these beasts, to evoke memories in those who can still recall working with horses in the fields. Although barely visible, the composition would not have worked without a hint of the landscape in which this event was taking place; the filigree of leafless tress providing a wonderfully delicate backdrop, a foil to the power of the foreground scene.
A sensual mix of softness and detail – on the one hand, steam rising off the horses’ flanks, breath streaming from their nostrils, a watery sun shimmering through the dense mist, the delicate hint of pink indicating that sunset is not long off. On the other, metallic brasses and leather collars, chains and grasses.
Whatever the weather, they come out in force for the annual Easter Ross Ploughing Match, as they have done for at least 100 years. There are twenty-three rules governing the participants and the judges show no favouritism. Points are awarded for various categories and gaining these points can be quite a challenge for those with vintage tractor and plough, this is where the skill comes into play.
On the first page of a ledger, a strong hand writes in flowing ink, 20th November 1951; this is the first record in a volume of minutes spanning seventeen years. There has been an attempt to complete the location of ploughing matches from 1932 and from this list the break for the war years of 1939 to 1946 can be clearly seen. The practice of a host farm or estate continues to this day and the names noted then are still around. The content of this ledger is a snapshot of life in the farming community, as will be the current Minute Book. In spite of, or more probably because of, the advent of sophisticated mechanisation it is believed to be essential that traditions and skills are kept alive.
In recent years the interest in participating at the annual match has increased and younger members of the farming families in this area have been warmly welcomed, as has the interest in restoration of vintage tractors and ploughs.
COMPOSITION - opting for a vertical composition enabled me to ‘constrict’ the horses, thus strengthening the perception that they are powering their way through the scene. Linear perspective plays an essential role in this composition; the angles of furrows, field and tree tops along with the positioning of the horses against the men, gives us subtle clues that the horses are working uphill. On glancing at this painting, you feel for all the world as if the horses are actually stepping out of the frame – an occidental delight for me as the artist. In such a misty scene, colours are dulled and values diminished and yet, when colour is present in field and flank, it glows in the diminished light.
METHOD - these Masterworks oil paintings are created using my unique method, a method based on traditional techniques, which are progressively worked through in layers from dark-to-light; a process that cannot be hurried, nor short-cuts taken. First, the underlying thinned colours of the underpainting, next the impasto stage, with glazes and tints used extensively to enrich and subtly enliven the oil painting – it is through these techniques where the ‘art of oil painting comes into its own.As always, we thank you for reading and watching, with best wishes from Eileen and myself,”Paul TaggartArtist : Author : Presenter : Producer
'The Plooman’s Dream.' by George L Livingstone
arranged and recorded by Corralach is included on their first CD 'Corvidae' – http://www.corralach.co.uk
In days now long gone by, I worked beneath the sky,
Walkin’ wi’ ma horse and ploo or harvesting the rye,
For the plooin’ was ma life as I worked the fields o’ Fife
Noo I sadly sit and wonder where our world is goin’ to.
We worked frae dawn till dusk, in fields o’ risin’ dust,
Tae ploo wi’ Meg and Jock, once the trees had turned tae rust;
Sic a handsome workin’ pair, wi’ brasses on their gear,
We’d turn again frae field tae barn as the sun sank o’er the hill.
But the tractor’s savage rumble has replaced the harness jingle
An’ ma hairt is sad tae see the passin’ o’ the time
When, in perfect peace and harmony, a man and pair could grace the land
And the cawin’ o’ the corbies was the loudest sound you’d hear.
Solo (Half verse and full chorus)
But times have moved along and the horses they are gone,
Nae whicker frae the stable tae greet the frosty dawn;
And I miss ma bonny pair, wi’ the braids all in their hair
And the birdsong all around us as we walked hame doon the lane.
In my dreams I see them still, in the autumn’s early chill,
The horses as they plodded on across the field and hill;
Ah, the pace o’ life was grand as we worked the fertile land
Wi’ a pair o’ handsome horses and a ploo tae turn the ground.
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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