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Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound

Spirit of The Highlands Collection

Edition Size 100

£325 framed

Frame Size (outer) 68cm[w] x 50cm[h]

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“Along the Dornoch Firth, in the Highlands of Scotland, lies the large expanse of the Morrich (daily covered by the incoming sea and exposed as the tide ebbs away). Here, amongst the sheep grazing contentedly over summer, one flock belongs to Alan Mackay – the subject of my miniature Masterworks oil painting Alan, Four Dogs and A Crook”. At the end of every October Alan gathers this flock one eventide, shepherding them back across the inlet, when the tide is at its lowest – homeward bound for over-wintering.

I yearned to capture this sight, to preserve it as an event that is unique, the perfect partner to “Winter Moon” - but I knew it was not going to be that simple; catching such an event as the sun sets and only having the one day in any year. What I had in mind was very definite, for the painting was to not only be about the sheep coming cross the inlet and the dogs going about their business, shepherding the flock. It needed to include the sun setting behind the distant mountains and hills and its impact on the low-lying water in the inlet; the ever-diminishing layers of terrain that serve as a backcloth to this scene had to be visible in the darkness as it enveloped everything. To do this annual journey justice, to evoke the uniqueness of the Highland of Scotland – all required defining elements and that was quite a tall order. Patience would be required and a number of years passed – during which I would wander down to the opposite side of the inlet, waiting for the flock to cross.

Then a successful year, the colour of the dying sun was perfect, as was the light skimming the surface of the inlet. Sadly, the tide was too high to risk bringing the sheep across at that point and by the time it was possible, the light had drained from the sky and we were in the gloom of the closing night.

Another year passed and the morning promised much when Alan’s call came through – so I reorganised my day, waiting to wend my way down the brae, only to be frustrated once more – the heavens opened. Having waited so many years I nevertheless determined to get there; out came the long waterproof coat and my all-weather wide-brimmed hat – down to the water’s edge – soaked to the skin within minutes. Although the conditions were less than ideal, there was something about the scene on this occasion that made me continue to gather hundreds of photographs and for once I was able to distinguish each individual sheep.

Look at the earnest way in which the three dogs are going about their work – see how the sheep cut a swathe of an arc through the water, responding to the position of the dogs. I had seen them previously moving as a mass across the sun-drenched wet sands, as if wading through liquid fire – stopping and starting off as one organism, as the dogs went about controlling the flock.

Alan and his son in the background, hunched against the driving rain, concentrating on the task in hand. And unbelievably, a vast skein of geese hove into view – homeward bound to their roost on Loch Eye.

Finally then, these last pieces of the jigsaw came together and I was able to start work. Admittedly the composition did take some arranging; for I wanted the light of the sky to be caught by the water, both in the narrow stream and in the pools of soft wet sand; not to mention my demands for the hills and receding landscape and every other element.

Alan's dogs were a joy to paint, just as they were in the miniature painting "Alan, Four Dogs and A Crook". To top it all, a gift of an element - I managed to capture one of the dogs when it was directly under the sun, creating a sparkling wake in the golden water.

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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