Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring Fling 2010

For the 3rd year running, Maggie is flinging her studio door open this weekend for the annual Spring Fling Open Studio event.

More than 80 artists and craftspeople are involved across the whole of Dumfries and Galloway, SW Scotland, including sculptors, painters, weavers, wood turners, photographers, potters and more.

2 years ago (see Spring Fling 2008) we had nearly 350 people pass through our door over the 3 days. Last year (see Spring Fling 2009) it was in excess of 500. However, given the financial crisis that everyone except the bankers are suffering from, hopes are not high for a record-breaking year of visitors or sales this time round.

Like last year, the corner I occupy with my laptop in Maggie’s studio has to be given back, so I’ll be moving from kitchen to living room to bedroom every time I want to access the Internet or edit photos.

Unlike last year, however, Rogan will not be taking a table onto the closed off high street for Food Town Day to sell his home baking. Instead he is supplying our friend Kerry who is opening up her house in the village of Auchencairn for the weekend.

See The Captain's House.

Auchencairn doesn’t have a café or tearoom, so Kerry thought it might be a good service to offer the Spring Fling visitors the chance to rest their weary feet and enjoy some refreshments in pleasant surrounds. She is also displaying arts and crafts for people to peruse while slurping a cuppa and nibbling a fruit scone, including a couple of artworks of Maggie’s and a handful of photos of mine she fell in love with from my 2009-in-Photographs collection

With it also coming up to the last few days of my Portrait Exhibition at the Mill on the Fleet in Gatehouse, this weekend has loomed very large in the Ayres household and the rest of life has all been put on hold until June 1st, when we will collapse in a heap.

If you’re anywhere near the region, it is a wonderful trail to trek around.

And if anyone would like to meet up for a coffee en route, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reality Attack

To accompany my exhibition, Staring Back, I decided I’d give a talk on “Faces, Portraits and Photoshop” this Tuesday at the Mill on the Fleet.

I’m being lent a projector to rig up to my laptop, so as well as putting up images to illustrate the points I’m making, I can also graphically demonstrate some of the techniques used by the media industries to manipulate photographs and create impossible ideals of beauty.

It seemed like quite an interesting thing to do and posters have been put up, press releases have been released and I’ve already had a few people tell me they’re really looking forward to it.

It’s 1.15am on Sunday night/Monday morning and I’ve suddenly had a massive reality attack


Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.


I’ve given loads of talks and presentations on a variety of subjects before now.

I’ll be fine.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maggie Ayres - it's personal...

For nearly 5 years, I've been the one in this family who blogs. Rogan has dabbled, Maggie has looked on with bemusement and Meg has remained blissfully unaware.

But no longer do I have a monopoly on this interaction with the wider global online community.

Maggie has now started her own blog – Acceptable Flesh

Many of you might know she is an artist who works with texture, light and colour to create extraordinary works of abstract art. But there is a great deal of emotional energy, sociological thought and inner conflict that feeds into her artworks.

And now she is developing a new body of work, profoundly influenced by, er… bodies, and how society deems what is acceptable and what is not, and how it impacts if ours is in the wrong category.

Maggie has set up her blog to explore her thoughts and ideas in a more public space, inviting input from anyone who wishes to join her on her journey.

So by way of an introduction to Maggie, her way of thinking and her style of writing, I asked her to guest blog here.

So without further ado, I introduce you to Maggie Ayres – artist and love of my life


I have to say that I am somewhat in awe of Kim’s level of self-effacing and open honesty.

This has sometimes been the cause of much jaw-dropping on my part – “How can you write that???”

I am by far the more private, and prefer to keep the darker facets hidden. But with Kim’s example of “the truth” in mind, I write here with a degree of openness that I know is crucial for any self-exploration.

Making art is a very personal act for me. My relationship with subjects and themes is intense and emotional. I can’t imagine any other way of working. I have been criticised for displaying work which is “too personal”. Certainly I know that my abstract expression is not to the taste of everyone.

My hope is, that by trying to come from an honest and authentic self-centred source, viewers may be able to identify with my issues and find some solace - we are not alone.

“Acceptable Flesh” is primarily about my struggle to deal with my socially unacceptable body. I have neither been sublimely delicate and waiflike, nor seen myself as lusciously buxom and desirable. I am, and always have been fat, from babyhood to the post-menopausal present day.

Most importantly, this is not an invitation to overweight, middle-aged women to unite and wallow in the injustices of unfair and unkind treatment by society.

What I want is for all of us, irrespective of gender, age, race or weight to question a society that favours artificial, flawless youthfulness, when it is an insidious illusion, which damages, devalues and disables.

Being “less-than” is not enough. That’s why I do “personal” art.


Altough I am of course extremely biased, I would encourage you to take the time to leave a comment and/or visit Maggie’s own blog:


Monday, May 17, 2010

Photos in BBC Countryfile Magazine

In the May 2010 edition of the BBC Magazine, Countryfile - based on the TV show of the same name - willow sculptor, Trevor Leat, is featured in an article.

They wanted some photos to accompany the write-up so looked to his website. Several of the images they thought had potential were ones I'd taken, so they contacted me for high resolution, print quality copies. I wasn't going to get paid, but I would get a credit.*

This all happened a couple of months ago, around the time I was asked to do the exhibtion at the Mill on the Fleet, so I'd forgotten all about it. Maggie hadn't though, and found the article today when she picked a copy of the magazine off the shelf.

The full page and the small black and white images were taken when Trevor was building the Tam O'Shanter scultpture that was set fire to at the Burns Light Festival in January 2009. And the one of him standing among the willow was taken at the same time I took my competition-winning photo of him last year.

You can click on the image for a larger, just about readable, version, or head to your local newsagent for a copy if you're interested.

*And they even spelt my name correctly

Friday, May 14, 2010

Normal service...


In order to stay in power, I see politicians have now formed a coalition with... get this... other politicians!

Is there any hope for us?

Meanwhile, my computer was becoming increasingly temperamental which ultimately forced me to implement the “restore factory settings” protocol, thereby wiping everything on it and starting again.

I thought I’d backed everything up, but I forgot about things like my favourites/bookmarks on my browser, and a whole bunch of fonts I like to use in poster, leaflet and web design.


Anyway, having reinstalled all the programs I use, put all the backed up data back on it, and adjusted all the settings so everything is laid out how I like it, the bloody thing is still playing up.

It especially seems to enjoy randomly not recognising the router and disconnecting me from the internet.

This ongoing frustration has kept me away from blogging for too long and I’ve been getting withdrawal symptoms.

Hopefully at some point normal service will be resumed. Although what normal service actually is, is anyone’s guess.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Election shock!

In a massive surprise, the population woke up this morning to discover politicians had been elected to govern the UK.

People have been seen shuffling aimlessly about the streets, wearing pyjamas and dressing gowns and clutching cups of tea, with looks of shock and disbelief on their faces.

“I think we’ve all been duped,” said Castle Douglas man, Kim Ayres. “Of course, when you think about it, we should have seen it coming. But we didn’t. Politicians…” At this point he gave an involuntary shudder.

When asked who he thought we’d all been voting for, a look of stark confusion spread across his face. “I dunno really. Real people, I think. I mean, you know, people with feelings. People who care about more than just themselves. Personally I was hoping that nice woman in the post office would get in. She always gives me a warm smile and helps me work out the best way to send a parcel.”

At this point our attention was drawn to the upper window as Mrs Ayres, a local mixed media and textile artist, was seen leaning out screaming, “Bastards! Politician scum!” A small cheer went up from a group of OAPS on the other side of the road

Scenes like this are being echoed across the country as it is slowly dawning on the population of the UK that it could be years before they get another chance oust politicians once and for all.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Today the UK goes to the polls to elect a government.

The basic strategy of the parties is as follows:

Labour: vote for us or the Conservatives will get in, and they are worse than us

Conservatives: vote for us or Labour will get back in, and they are worse than us

Liberal Democrats: vote for us or either the Conservatives or Labour will get in, and they are both worse than us

Scottish Nationalists: vote for us because if there is a hung parliament, and if we have enough members, we might, intermittently, be able to squeeze the occasional concession out of whoever is in power.

All other parties: vote for us because they're all a bunch of thieving bastards and it's your only way to register a protest

The alternative of not voting just means any of them will get in, but the non-voter, who refuses to take part in the *cough* democratic process, has no moral authority to bitch about it

Call it what you like, but it ain't democracy in my book

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Exhibition Launch and The Book

The launch of the exhibition, Staring Back, took place on Saturday, barely 10 weeks after I was called by The Mill on the Fleet and offered the opportunity to put on a show of my portrait photography.

Photos courtesy of my son, Rogan, who enjoyed being the official photographer for the event.

24 images of people staring intensely into the camera, and thus at the viewers, seems to have gone down well, and I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone I spoke to.

Of course I knew nearly everyone I spoke to, so there’s no guarantee the wider public will be anything like as enthusiastic or tactful.

However, it was a good afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed being the centre of attention and lavished with praise.

I could get used to this…

I’ve had many comments from bloggers, friends and relatives who have said they would love to have seen the exhibition but lived too far away to be able to attend.

This set me thinking about the possibility of creating a book of the event.

I already had all the images in digital format, as well as writings to go with each of the photos.

So using, an online print-on-demand service specifically set up to create photo-books, I put this one together

I ordered a copy a couple of weeks ago and fortunately it arrived in time for the exhibition. And I have to say I’m very impressed with the quality. I paid the extra couple of pounds to have the thicker paper and it was well worth it.

Unfortunately, the unit price on these things is not cheap, so it is more expensive than an equivalent book you might buy in a store or on Amazon. However, the real advantage is I haven’t had to fork out thousands of pounds in advance to be left with boxes of unsold books. They only print copies when someone orders them, and they are delivered right to your door.

The book is 10x8 inches in landscape format. The postage fee is the same whether you order 1 or 5, and if you order 10 or more in one go (if you’re wealthy and want to treat all your friends and relatives) then I think there’s a 10% discount.

So if you would like a copy of the book, visit with your credit card, or click on the widget above.

And to whet your appetite further, I put together a wee video of it