Handcrafted Maine

It’s no secret that over at Lodestars Anthology HQ we are obsessed with fine print, beautiful words and exceptional photography – if we can find all this in a single publication (one that celebrates creativity, community and the landscape), then our adoration is going to be next level. So, not surprisingly, we were delighted to discover Handcrafted Maine, a new coffee table book that profiles 22 craftspeople, producers and creatives who call Maine home. Focussing on the stunning natural setting as much as their featured personalities, the book is a wonderful inducement to travel, consider the land and possibly even get your own project up and running.

Handcrafted Maine is written by Katy Kelleher – who, as a writer and editor, specialises in stories about creators, culture and food sustainability – and photographed by Greta Rybus, who hail from Buxton and Portland respectively. The tones are soothing, workspaces brim with colour and detail, the coastline, farms and woodland entice, and even the coldest of winter scenes will have you yearning to venture to this unique, north-east pocket of the US. The writing is honest and insightful (it’s wonderful to come across pieces that look at the challenges associated with creative living, as well as the unparalleled joys), and the entire publication is something you want to savour over copious pots of tea. To understand more about Handcrafted Maine we had a chat to Greta and, as you can imagine, fell even more in love with this stunning project (and those it features).

What inspired you to create this book?

The editor of the book, Jan Cigliano Hartman, had the idea for the book and began working with publishers at Princeton Architectural Press. She called me about the project several years ago and I immediately wanted to be a part of it. I had recently moved to Maine from the west, and I was really struck by Maine’s culture of creativity and resilience. Jan brought writer Katy Kelleher on to the team, and she is an exceptional storyteller. Together, we spent a year or two planning, developing, researching, and refining the concept of the book. We broadened the idea of ‘craftsman’ from just artists to other producers and creators, including farmers, wilderness guides, chefs, and fishermen. We wanted to include people who use creative mindsets to work with the land or the sea as well. We then spent a little over a year visiting people around the state, Katy writing and researching as I took the photographs. The book was released in July 2017 and it’s been really heartening to see the welcoming and enthusiastic response to the book.

Do you have a particularly memorable shooting experience from this project?

Working on this book was a beautiful adventure and like all good adventures, it left me with some great stories. Maine is an enormous state; we drove hundreds of kilometres and spent entire days in the car to reach the more remote locations. Sometimes we’d pull over during a long late-summer drive to pick wild blueberries on the side of the road. We both got seasick while going out to sea in extreme January waves while documenting lobstermen at work. Wilderness guide Jen Brophy of Red River Camps taught us how to correctly paddle a canoe and I went ice-skating with the beer makers on the pond at Oxbow Brewery after photographing the brewing process.

What do you enjoy most about shooting in Maine?

Maine is a place with four very distinct seasons. The winters are harsh and long, the spring is bright and verdant, the summer is mild and savoured by both tourists and locals and the autumn is brilliant with colour. The extremity of our seasons requires a certain mentality: this challenging place rewards grit and resilience and a responsiveness to land, sea and weather. In my work as a photographer in Maine I often document strong connections between humans and the natural world. People either make their livelihoods around the environment or find inspiration in the landscape. Like a lot of people in Maine, my own work is really informed by the natural world, but it’s also really informed by the people in my local community. I am able to survive as a photographer here because there are so many people in Maine who are doing innovative and interesting work – and I often get assigned to photograph them!

Has working on this book changed how you view Maine and its creatives?

Working on this book deepened my appreciation for Maine and the people that work here. I also got to understand how special the creative economy is in Maine. This state has a deep connection to art that is woven throughout its history: writers like E.B. White and Edna St. Vincent Millay, painters like Winslow Homer and Marsden Harltey, and entrepreneurs like L.L. Bean all based their creative enterprises in Maine. Those traditions have never left Maine and it’s a part of everyday life here. Painters still flock to Monhegan island to paint en plein air. You can buy lobsters  directly from the lobstermen on coastal wharves. You can walk into any bookstore and see entire shelves filled with books by Maine writers. Most Maine highways, like Route 1, are dotted with art studios open to the public.

The book gave us an opportunity to have deeper conversations with the people that continue these traditions, while forging new innovative paths within their craft or field. We wanted to create a book with a lot of substance, so we made sure to [capture] both the beauty and struggle of creative work. We talked about the freedom of being self employed and financial burden of operating creative business. We discussed the how racism and sexism can impact artists. We documented the satisfaction an artist feels when making something truly unique, and the joy of creating in a landscape like Maine’s.

You can see more of Greta’s images here – and order a copy of Handcrafted Maine by clicking here.

“Creativity isn’t just about painting or building or writing … creativity is forging new pathways. It’s coming at a problem from a new direction. It’s building bridges where you see chasms. A creative is someone who conceives of a new solution. A maker is someone who turns that solution into a physical reality.” Katy Kelleher, p. 22. 

Pembrokeshire

Words & photographs by Rhys Thomas

Growing up in south-west Wales, just east of Pembrokeshire, in ‘the sleepy town of Laugharne’, I was always restless. Playing in the woods may seem idyllic … until it rains and living a stone’s throw from a plethora of beaches might sound like paradise … until the 17-year old you swallows a little too much sea water mid surf.

But after living away from the area for the best part of two years, I started to yearn for salt air and open space – indeed, the fact that I no longer have that pair of shoes sitting in their permanently mud-topped-with-sand state in the utility room made me realise that something was missing. Home was calling. And so, craving the salt and the sea, I booked my ticket and set out on a jaunt along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.  

After an evening catch up with my parents (duty calls), I headed to Amroth, a small water-side village and the south-eastern starting point of the trail. I arrived at 6 a.m. to overcast skies, the pebbled beach only a few shades lighter than the charcoal clouds and olive green sea. Spying one couple taking a morning stroll through the village, I felt emboldened and set off upon confidence-boosting terrain. It didn’t take long for the world to wake around me – within a mile I was meeting walkers from the opposite direction, exchanging ‘good mornings’ and being sniffed around the ankles by their dogs (for the right reasons I hope). 

Eventually I reached Saundersfoot with its bustling harbour and quiet beaches. It was here that the wind picked up, carrying the salt that I love. Continuing through woodland full of wild garlic and pine tree, I took a moment to savour these earthy scents. Turning the corner and reaching sea level, my next destination revealed itself. Tenby’s charm is in its cobbled roads, dainty cafes and community spirit – but it’s Tenby Harbour that I found most beautiful. Quite possibly one of Europe’s best beaches, it is surrounded colourful terraces (one of which has featured on Grand Designs) and boasts a lifeboat station that stretches out into the sea. I chose to pause here, put my camera to good use, and indulge in some breakfast at The Mooring on High Street. 

Tenby felt perfectly secluded and my second day of walking was filled with equally peaceful finds. Having made my way as far as Barafundel Bay, I spied families picnicking on the grass and sand while admiring the time-and-water-worn cliffs. Continuing up into the hills, greenery took over as the path disappeared into the forest, taking in lily ponds and lakes. A few miles on I stumbled upon (and might well have missed if I wasn’t in the know) St Govan’s Chapel. This curious, heartwarming piece of architecture was carved from the cliffs in the 12th century and the view of the sea through its window is absolutely awe-inspiring. The site was deserted when I arrived so I stayed to watch the sun descend, the waves crashing below while gulls socialised above. I can see why people would carve through a cliff to make such a place and thank them, 900 years on, for their efforts. 

Diverting from the coast slightly I came upon St David’s Cathedral, located within the UKs smallest city, which bears the same name. The cathedral honours the patron saint of Wales while the city offers cafes and views aplenty. Nearby is Abereiddy Beach, the penultimate destination on my journey – the final stop being the creative town of Cardigan where I celebrated the end of my hike with a meal at Pizza Tipi. Abereiddy Beach and its ‘blue lagoon’ are hotspots for those with a penchant for extreme sports. Red Bull hosted a cliff diving event recently and the site is always full of hobbyists kayaking, surfing, swimming and cliff diving the hours away. I realised here that this area is frequented by people who have chosen tranquility over city madness. Everyone I encountered was kind, caring and humble, and clearly in love with their little corner of the world. And so they should be. 

I vow to return home again soon …

You can see more of Rhys’ work here.

The New Zealand Magazine

We are pleased to announce that our ocean, wilderness, adventure, design, food, art and wine filled New Zealand magazine will be arriving back from the printers later this week – which means that everyone who pre-ordered with have their little bundle of printed wanderlust sent out to them over the weekend. We can’t wait to share our latest project with you – the work of many wonderful writers, photographers and illustrators from across the globe. In the magazine we chat to chef Peter Gordon and actor/wine maker Sam Neill, kayak around Abel Tasman National Park, sip wine in Nelson, cycle from the alps to the sea, discover the food and beaches of Auckland, find the perfect cup of coffee in Wellington, encounter Kiwis on Stewart Island, seek out calm corners shrouded in history, learn to be mindful, sleep in luxury under the stars, tackle the Great Walks, return home and get swept up in Queenstown’s calm – and that’s just a few of the adventures found upon our pages!

You can order your copy (as well as back issues and subscriptions) by clicking here. For now, here is a sneak peak of some of our New Zealand pages – happy reading (and travelling too)!

 

“We ventured inland across the Alps, through the beech forests and rugged schist ravines of the Haast Pass – once an ancient Māori greenstone trail – emerging into what appeared to be an entirely different country.”

 

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“Not only do artisans and small-batch producers buy each other’s work, they often trade goods based on what’s available. Art for firewood. Jam for flour.”

 

“There really is no place like home. I’d just had to go to the other side of the world and back to get here.”

 

“Ideal for anyone yearning to go off-grid, parts of Fiordland have never encountered a human visitor – but perhaps that’s where its beauty lies, in its inaccessibility.”

 

“This is a beach for solitude, for long walks, and for washing the city away; where heartache and hustle are given up to the waves.”

 

 

 

 

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Georgina Skinner

Meet Georgina Skinner, the photographer behind our soon-to-be-released New Zealand cover. A rather talented lass who splits her time between Aotearoa and the UK and who has a knack for capturing light and life. Prepare for a little dose of Southern Hemisphere wanderlust … (fun fact – you can pre-order our New Zealand magazine here
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When did you start taking photographs? 
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Photography started out for me when I was a kid with my parents film cameras, but as soon as it was introduced to me as a subject I could take for school it very quickly went from a hobby to something I wanted to make a living from. 
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How would you describe your photographic style? 
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It took me a few years to find my style and to settle with one look, but it was one day in Paris – I found myself consistently shooting in a specific way. I was drawn to the lighter colours of the city and buildings and from then on I always shot this way and applied my style to all my work. I often get asked if my work is a photograph or a painting, so I suppose that would be my style!  Occasionally I will have a day and find myself shooting dark scenes and situations with a hint of colour, but rarely.
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Is there a particular New Zealand area or subject that means something special to you? 
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The whole journey from Christchurch through Arthurs Pass to the West Coast is special to me. It was the first journey I took when I moved here from England and it was a complete shock to me as to how somewhere could be that beautiful! Now it is our journey home and it will forever remain dear to me.
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Where is home for you in new Zealand? 
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My fiancé Stephen and I live on the West Coast of New Zealand. It was a massive change from working in PR in the centre of London to being thrown into dairy farming and working on my photography business Print By George from our front room, but I feel so settled here and now we are getting married. This is home for life.
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Do you have a favourite part of New Zealand? 
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When I think of all the places I have travelled [to] within New Zealand, I always get excited to get back to the West Coast and home. It is so quiet and secluded compared to what I am used to and having our two dogs waiting for us makes this the best place.
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Is shooting in New Zealand different to other parts of the world? 
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The light and the landscape is so totally different to the UK. When I lived in Melbourne the light was so warm and the landscape so vast. Going from that to London where you don’t see so much of the sky and the days are short in the winter, it was a massive adjustment. Now living in New Zealand the sky is enormous, with stunning mountains and sunsets. It is the perfect mix of English and Australian light and I love shooting in it! We truly get four seasons throughout the year and the light is so different for each one. It’s exciting to shoot at all times of the year, but when it rains it pours and that is a day to stay inside and get the computer work done!
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Do you have a favourite subject?
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The landscape is a new one. I adore shooting the landscape now that I live in a beautiful one, but my true passion which has stayed with me from day one would be interiors and homes. That is where I started out with photography and I will continue forever to shoot and love them.
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Has there been a particularly enjoyable shoot? 
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A shoot I did recently in my family’s Greek home in Corfu would be a very enjoyable one. It was shot for NZ House & Gardens magazine and it looked beautiful for the issue. It also helped that Stephen proposed to me on this trip – unforgettable!
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You’ve photographed both the North and South Islands – do you find these different in any way?
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The South Island is a lot more rural and you can drive a long way without seeing a property. It is rugged and quite untouched whereas the North is a smaller island and there is a lot more going on with bigger cities closer together. I don’t prefer shooting one over the other, however I see the South Island a lot more and so shooting opportunities come up more frequently.
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What advice do you have for someone considering a career as a photographer?
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Keep at it and believe in yourself. I had many ‘doubt’ days when I started out with my photography. I wasn’t convinced with my style and aesthetic and I didn’t believe that anyone would be interested in it either. It took me a bit of time to gain that confidence and to be able to talk about my work without feeling like I was trying to force it upon someone – once I felt I could do this, the belief and hard work started to pay off and now I can’t believe where my photography has taken me.
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Path of the Gods

Words by Angela Terrell

For beauty, beaches and lemons, look no further than the Amalfi Coast, the Italian seaside escape synonymous with summer and the sweet life.

We set off as the sun’s soft rays kissed the mountaintops, its tendrils turning the spectacular limestone cliffs golden. Birds heralded the waking day while church bells welcomed early worshippers. Having ably contended with the 534 steep stairs down to the local beach the day before, we thought a quick 1,000 step climb skywards before breakfast would be a breeze.

Our jaunt rapidly became a quest. Stairs hewn from ancient stone rose tortuously, clinging to the land like veins on the heart, ours soon pounding with effort. We rounded corners breathlessly seeking the next Station of the Cross, a constant reminder of the area’s sanctity, but under the rising sun a tantalising promise of sublime destinations and a chance to pause. Old ladies burdened with shopping bags put us to shame by stoically climbing alongside us, stopping only momentarily to pray at grottos along the way.

Finally, with feet firmly on the ground yet spirits soaring, we reached the Sentiero degli Dei, the Path of the Gods. Still used as a mule track by locals who live and farm at these perilous heights, it’s from here that the true magnificence of the Amalfi Coast is revealed. Linking Bomerano with Nocelle, the route passes through olive groves, Mediterranean scrub and chestnut woods, with scattered shepherding ruins adding poignancy to the scene.

Life here continues unchanged by the passage of time. We listened to goat bells echoing across the cliff face and families chattering as they tended vines steadfastly growing on terraces sculpted to provide precious arable land in this dramatic landscape for each generation. Spirit and tradition are carved into the hills themselves.

The path appears to float above the world in an almost celestial way. Far below is the glistening Tyrrhenian and the rickety wooden handrail, although precarious, guided tentative footsteps as hypnotising views were absorbed. Dramatic plunging cliffs line the coast and Capri’s Faraglioni Rocks and the Li Galli Islands can be glimpsed against the horizon where the azure sky and turquoise water meet. Positano nestles peacefully across the bay, immense mountains dwarfing the brilliant buildings all seemingly piled upon each other and cascading down to the sea. Below is a flurry of activity with fishing boats and luxury cruisers leaving artistically patterned wakes swirling in the water.

With this remarkable panorama etched into our psyche and the sun high we turned back towards Casa
Angelina in search of a well-deserved breakfast. Enjoying one of the best views on the coast, this boutique hotel hugs the mountainside at the end of a twisting driveway that tests even the bravest of Italian drivers. Here cutting edge design is paramount and, instead of appearing incongruous in the ancient landscape, the hotel’s clean lines, all-white interiors and soaring windows are a perfect framework for the canvas of natural beauty beyond.

Created to be a relaxing yet opulent villa for guests to enjoy, Casa Angelina also showcases the owner’s private art collection. An involvement in toy manufacturing could explain the whimsical nature of the objects d’art, vibrantly playful Murano glass sculptures and Impressionist-inspired paintings that adorn this tranquil space. Pieces such as smiling moon-men lamp bases and flower-filled table tops add to the enjoyment of staying here – and the sense you’re residing within an ever-changing art installation.

Pristine white furnishings maintain the calming palette in the expansive rooms. Beachside fishermen’s cottages have been converted into apartments for those requiring solitude, but no matter the accommodation, never ending sea views ensure constant tranquillity and ‘barefoot luxe’ encourages you to feel simultaneously extravagant and content.

The outdoor terrace of Un Piano Nel Cielo Restaurant allows meals to be enjoyed above soaring seagulls. Breakfast, designed to be brunch, meets all tastes, but after our arduous morning we particularly enjoyed tasting creamy fior di latte, a mozzarella crafted by locals residing in the hills we had just climbed. Later, as lights from Positano twinkle across the water, this window to the world transforms into a candlelit haven where chef Vincenzo Vanacore wields his magic – the La Gavitella tasting menu is a must.

Little can prepare you for the spectacular beauty of the Costiera Amalfitana. This 50 kilometre stretch of coastline claims to be Europe’s most beautiful and it’s hard to disagree. Cantilevered takes on new meaning here with glamorous hotels and bougainvillea-bedecked villas suspended mid-air. Driving along the corniche with its 1,000 hairpin bends is literally breathtaking and the bus drivers who negotiate precipitous corners over plummeting cliffs are miracle-workers; although you’re unlikely to see them bat an eyelid.

A maritime republic once rivalling Venice, the town of Amalfi was virtually destroyed by a tsunami in 1343, but young aristocrats following the Grand Tour of the 18th century ensured its rediscovery. Today tourism merges with the age old lifestyle as bright orange beach umbrellas flutter over timber fishing boats readied for the morning’s catch and tourists sip Campanellos alongside chess playing locals.

A melange of buildings flow down the cloud-capped mountainside to the bustling harbour and the glazed majolica roof of Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea dominates the town. Piazza Duomo is the place to watch the passing parade. Cyclists fill water bottles from the resplendent fountain’s sculpted marble breasts and gelato is savoured whilst sitting on the imposing staircase leading to the Duomo’s golden façade.

Following a map is pointless; roaming is the way to discover the real beauty. Cobbled streets become passageways wending their way betwixt and between pastel-hued buildings and, as you wander under fluttering washing, the spirited sounds of life echo off timeworn walls.

Many charming towns adorn this coastline but Praiano, where we had embarked on our adventurous morning climb, is a gem. Almost tourist-free, this former fishing village near Positano is the only town on the coast where the sun is enjoyed morning to dusk and fiery sunsets are watched from either of its two beaches, La Praia or La Gavitella. Life at the beach is as bright as the bougainvillea. Local boys dance, Campari in hand, to music bouncing over the waves, hoping to draw the attention of girls sun-bathing nearby. Watermelon hour sees the ceremonial ‘cutting of the melon’, everyone sharing in the dripping sweetness of the fruit before washing off the excess in the warmth of the sea. Cosmopolitan life is the essence of this rocky hamlet.

Atrani is reached by following a meandering pathway from Amalfi. Its timeless charm is pervasive, the beach welcoming and the cheerful piazza full of cafes serving limoncello and local delicacies. From the piazza narrow alleyways lead up to the Valley of the Dragon path. Steep, winding and sometimes filled with grazing goats, it takes you through terraces of luscious lemons and sun-ripened vegetables to lofty Ravello.

For centuries artists, writers, musicians and Hollywood stars have been drawn to this fantastic location – and the charm is evident. The town square appears to be perched on top of the world, and from one of its many cafes you can savour a spritz and watch the promenading of locals and tourists alike. The music-centric Ravello Festival takes place in the showpiece gardens of Villa Rufolo, once boasting more rooms than days in the year. Flowerbeds, palm trees and newly discovered Roman baths adorn the picturesque gardens, many of which seem to float like clouds over the sea far below.

The magical gardens of Villa Cimbrone are designed in the English aesthetic to reinterpret the Roman villa. Mixing exotic and local vegetation with fountains and nymphs, they are both theatrical and grandiose, and the Avenue of Immensity leading to the Terrace of Infinity are breathtaking examples of redefined Roman opulence. With such an evocative name the Terrace of Infinity, adorned with marble busts suspended high over the Gulf of Salerno, has a magnificence that is in no way understated. The view indeed appears infinite and standing by the balustrade you feel insignificant yet strangely calm.

The Amalfi Coast is more than picture-perfect, it has an intensity that seduces. The colours of the landscape are deeper, the expansive sky is bluer and the mesmerising panoramas wider. And of course the stairs are definitely steeper.

Loch Lomond

As lovers of literature, escape and Scotland in general we were delighted to come across a new series of literary guides for travellers from I.B.Tauris. When it comes to independent travel, with a dash of history, these books are sure to inspire a spot of creative wanderlust. Below is an extract from Garry MacKenzie‘s guide to Scotland, a delightful read that explores the literary allure of Loch Lomond. We’ve run it with a selection of images from our own Scotland magazine – oh to return to those bonnie braes! 

Jules Verne, the famed French author of Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, loved Scotland and even claimed Scottish ancestry. He set three of his lesser-known novels in the country. The earliest of these is a fictionalised account of his own travels in Scotland in 1859, a work that lay forgotten for well over a century before being rediscovered and published in France in 1989. In 1992, Janice Valls-Russell’s English translation, titled Backwards to Britain, was released. Verne’s impressions of Scotland are narrated by a character named Jacques Lavaret, who travels with a friend from Edinburgh to Glasgow and then on to the Trossachs, visiting landmarks such as Arthur’s Seat, Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. Jacques, like Verne, is passionately excited about being in Scotland, to the extent that he even waxes lyrical about a steam-operated sausage machine in a Glasgow butcher’s window: ‘“What a people,” Jacques exclaimed. “What genius to apply steam to charcuterie! No wonder the British are the masters of the world!”’ Upon reaching Loch Lomond, the two travellers sail from Balloch, on the southern shore, and Jacques can’t help being reminded of ‘his favourite novels’, including Walter Scott’s Rob Roy, and anyone seeking similarities between Verne’s writing and that of Scott will and them in this description of the loch:

The first, overwhelming impression of Loch Lomond is of countless delightful islands of every shape and size imaginable. The Prince Albert weaved its way between them, skirting their rugged outlines and revealing a myriad different countrysides: here a fertile plain, there a solitary glen, elsewhere a forbidding ravine bristling with age-old rocks. Ancient legends clung to every shore, and the history of this land is written in these gigantic characters of islands and mountains.

The large area of Loch Lomond, and its position on the Highland Boundary Fault, mean that it feels less like a single body of water than like a series of interconnected lochs with changing characteristics. At its southern end it’s broad and surrounded by fields and parkland. As Verne points out, there are numerous islands, some of which are inhabited and many of which can be visited on boat trips. The south of Loch Lomond is busy with yachts and jet skis; on a sunny day the villages and pubs on its shores are filled with Glaswegians escaping the city.

The northern half of the loch is very different. About a third of the way up it narrows, and slopes rise on either side for almost 1,000 metres to form the mountains of Ben Lomond and Ben Vorlich. Lochside fields give way to wooded crags and banks of ferns. There are fewer pleasure boats on the water. On the eastern bank the road ends altogether at the hamlet of Rowardennan and only a rough footpath continues northwards to another settlement, Inversnaid. In Walter Scott’s Rob Roy, the rough country to the east of Loch Lomond is the territory of the eponymous outlaw, a real historical figure whom Scott describes as a Robin Hood character, a ‘kind and gentle robber’. Rob Roy MacGregor lived in the early eighteenth century and was both a cattle drover and, latterly, a cattle thief who earned a living by rustling. He’s the presiding spirit, but not really the hero, of Scott’s novel. Instead much of the action follows Frank Osbaldistone, a young Englishman caught up in intrigue involving Jacobites.

Such was the popularity of Scott’s Highland romance that countless tourists sought out its landscapes for themselves. ‘We ought to traverse the district novel in hand,’ says one Victorian guidebook of ‘Rob Roy’s country’, searching for locations such as ‘the precise spot where Francis Osbaldistone for a moment pressed the flushed cheek of Diana Vernon’. In the summer of 1817, the year before the novel was published, Scott came here himself, visiting ‘Rob Roy’s Cave’, not far from Inversnaid. The cave is one of countless landmarks in the area associated with Rob, an indication of his reputation as a folk hero. It’s allegedly one of his hideouts, though there might be little truth in this – it’s really just a cleft in a pile of boulders, and for visitors today the solitude of the location is more rewarding than the cave itself. Scott himself may have been disappointed by the cave, as he didn’t even mention it in his novel. For those seeking the real Rob Roy, a good place to start is Balquhidder, a quiet village an hour’s drive north of Aberfoyle, at the eastern end of Loch Voil. Rob Roy farmed at Balquhidder and his grave lies in the village church.

For hikers on the West Highland Way, the 100-mile footpath from Glasgow to Fort William, Inversnaid is something of an oasis, the only natural stopping point on the lochside on the rough path north from Rowardennan, and the site of a hotel and a cosy bunkhouse. In 1881 a young Jesuit priest based in Glasgow, Gerard Manley Hopkins, stopped briefly at Inversnaid. Hopkins found life in the big city oppressive and came north with a yearning for wilderness. His poem ‘Inversnaid’, with his distinctive rhythmical stresses, is a brilliant evocation of the sounds, colours and movements of the waterfall at the edge of this hamlet where Arklet Water cascades into Loch Lomond:

This darksome burn, horseback brown,

His rollrock highroad roaring down,

In coop and in comb the eece of his foam

Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

[. . .]

What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and wilderness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wilderness and wet;

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Today a bridge crosses in front of the waterfall, affording spectacular views. Inversnaid itself is difficult to reach – visitors must either walk here from Rowardennan, navigate a long and twisting road from Aberfoyle or take a ferry from Tarbet on the western shore. As a proto-environmentalist Hopkins would be pleased that Inversnaid now lies within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, which was established in 2002.

 

There are less than 30 copies of the Lodestars Anthology Scotland magazine remaining and you can grab your copy here.

To get your hands on one of these brilliant guides from I.B. Tauris click here, the code Lodestars30 will also get you 30 percent off. Brilliance. 

Sam Caldwell

The illustrator Sam Caldwell contributed to our Sweden and Canada issues. Sarah Kelleher finds out more about this talented artist.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background – where you trained/ how you learned and what inspired you to become an artist and illustrator when you were younger?

I grew up in Bolton, a town just north of Manchester. For as long as I can remember I have always been interested in storytelling and have tried to document the world around me. Drawing and painting have always been the most natural way for me to do this.

I moved up to Edinburgh in 2010 where I studied painting at the Edinburgh College of Art. I initially went to study illustration but switched over to the art department in the first week as it seemed a lot more fun!

I moved to South-East London after graduating and have since been chasing a career in freelance illustration.

You’ve lived in a number of places, from Lancashire, to Edinburgh to South-East London.  Have the locations you’ve lived in influenced your work in any way?  Are there any landscapes that are particularly important to you?

Yeah absolutely, place is very important to me. I think growing up in a post-industrial town has had a huge influence on the kind of images I make. I love the moorland around Bolton, the old terrace streets and disused mills still loom large for me.

Discovering the Hebrides and the Highlands of Scotland were a big thing too – looking back at the work I made whilst living in Edinburgh, so much of it was inspired by windswept Scottish landscapes and the idea of North.

It has really only been in the past few months that I’ve seen London seep into my work. Since moving down here I have struggled to figure out how to make a living from drawing and have tried on a few different creative hats in the process. It is only recently that I have started to look around me again and make pictures based on my surroundings. I’m really interested in trying to document some of the struggles living in this city throws up.

Looking at your work, it’s clear that you enjoy creating and referencing comic book art.  Are there any comic book artists whose work you particularly like or are inspired by?  Are you working on your own comic-book projects?

Comics are a fairly recent interest for me. I read the Beano and the Dandy as a kid but it’s only been in the past couple of years that I have started drawing my own and really thinking about it as a medium for story telling. My way in was through Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan as well as the first few Nobrow anthologies. Jon McNaught has been a big influence on how I’ve thought about comics – he has an incredible knack for creating a sense of place through these slow, often uneventful stories.

I just finished ‘Hubert’ by Ben Gijsemans which I would highly recommend to anyone who likes the quieter side of comics.

The main comics project I am working on at the minute is a collaboration with a writer based in Austin, Texas called James McNulty. He sent me a screenplay a few months ago and we are working on adapting it into a graphic novel. It’s tonally similar to something like ‘The Missing’ or True Detective’. The story is set in small town America and focuses on a series of kidnappings. It is pretty dark stuff but it had me totally gripped on my first read through!

You’ve produced work for a number of publications and shows, and although there is great variety in your work, it’s also possible to tell that each piece was created by you – how have you developed your own personal style over the years?

That’s very kind of you to say so! I don’t think it is a particularly conscious thing, hopefully it is something which has happened naturally. That said, I have always found it useful to draw quick versions of other artist’s work. I think it is a really useful way to learn how people you admire use line and shape and space.

I used to draw pretty obsessively, filling sketchbooks with drawings of photographs I would find on blogs and in books as well as invented characters and scenes. I still try to get at least one drawing down every day. Style is definitely defined to some degree by what materials you use too. I find that I draw completely differently with a pencil than I do with a brush and ink for example.

The pieces you’ve worked on for Lodestars Anthology have been related to the cultural life of the different countries covered by the magazine, and you have been very adept in referencing the books and films from the written pieces in your art.  Do you have a strong interest in literature, film and music?  How does this play out in your work?

I definitely have a real interest in all of those things, anything which tells a good story or seems to have a unique perspective on the world always grabs my attention. Although I definitely don’t read as much as I would like to, I do often find inspiration in fiction and poetry. I’ve been working on turning a series of Simon Armitage poems into comics recently actually. Film is a pretty big influence too; I will usually have to dig back through movies to take screengrabs or photos of particular scenes and shots. I love work which nods to or references its source of inspiration in some way. Inspiration can come from almost anywhere, you just have to learn to be receptive to it and always carry a notebook!

You use pen and ink, ink wash, pencil and digital art to create your work – do you have a favourite medium to work in?  Do you like to experiment with new mediums?

I love working with physical materials. I feel as though I am in a constant battle with Photoshop and my tablet, always trying to make my images more print friendly and contemporary. Working digitally is great for tight deadlines and getting a clean finish but I always seem to find myself going back to my trusty set of watercolour paints. I really like the unpredictability of using a watery wash of paint or ink, building images up from loads of thin layers allows me to get colours and textures I just can’t achieve working digitally.

I enjoy trying out new mediums from time to time, drawing with a dip pen and a pot of ink is fairly new to me and something which has really changed my approach to making pictures. You can’t mess around too much with ink, it forces you to roll with any mistakes and work a lot more confidently than you would in pencil for instance.

Your work encompasses both landscape and portraiture – do you enjoy working in both these areas?  Do you have a favourite?

I like both equally I think. I am really interested in the idea of place and how people relate to and are to some degree defined by their surroundings. I like to think of my pictures as stills from a film. I want my pictures to evoke some sense of narrative and to have a definite character. I think you can get just as much character from a landscape as you can from a portrait.

Your work is very atmospheric – often with a muted, or deep colour palette that can seem quite ominous, and we particularly saw this in the illustration you did for ‘Let the Right One In’ in the Swedish Literature piece for Lodestars.  Do you enjoy creating works of art with a slightly darker feel?

That piece was fun because I got the chance to read up on a film that I am almost certainly not brave enough to actually watch!

Without sounding too gloomy, I am definitely more drawn to things with a darker feel to them. Not so much horror but I have been told that my pictures often have a certain feeling of melancholia to them. I guess I just find that kind of thing more intriguing. It is probably a bit of a hangover from my teenage years spent reading Philip Larkin and listening to The Smiths! The films, books and pictures that really resonate with me usually have a similar tone to my illustrations. Generally speaking, I am interested in depicting characters who seem to have a complex story surrounding them. I think that often darker stories are more engaging than light-hearted ones.

Your portraiture and people work is very expressive – how do you set about conveying a sense of emotion or character through your artwork of people and personalities?

It’s all about the eyes and eyebrows, these are undoubtedly the most expressive parts of the face. If you can get those right, then the rest of the portrait usually follows pretty easily. I always start with a loose layout in very faint pencil. Once I’m settled on the composition I will tighten up this pencil layer and sketch in some of the facial features. The bulk of the working out is done at this stage. I then get the ink pot out and draw the face. I always start with the eyes. I like to do this stage fairly quickly; faster lines almost always look better than laboured ones. Once I have inked out all the line work I go about blocking in the first layer of watercolour. This is undoubtedly a backwards way of doing things but I often find my colour palette is influenced by the feel of the drawing underneath.

Do you have any illustrators whose work you particularly admire and follow?  If yes, then why these artists?

I admire tons of people’s work, the list is endlessly growing.

Ben Shahn is my absolute all time favourite painter. His pictures really capture a particular time and place and are an endless source of inspiration for me. As far as current working illustrators go, Dadu Shin, Roman Muradov, Patrick Leger, Sam Bosma, Eleni Kalorkati, Lizzy Stewart, Benji Davis, Thomas Haugomat, Matt Rockefeller, Adrian Tomine and Jordan Crane are all excellent, to name but a few. Closer to home, anyone reading should check out the work of Seamus Killick, Tom Brice, Jamie Johnson, Mark Connolly, Sarah Sheard, Laura Griffin, Efa Dyfan, Kyle Noble, Tiina Lilja, Gwen Kehrig-Darton, Herbert Green, Ben Hall and Supermarche.

 

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