I’ve written before on the Artlog about Catriona Urquhart. Catriona provided the poetic text for my breakthrough exhibition in 2001, The Mare’s Tale, and before that she’d written the short story Palmyra Jones as a birthday present for Peter, published in a tiny edition by The Old Stile Press and the first book that I illustrated for them. But although we were collaborators, more than anything else we were bosom buddies, delighting in each others company. We shared passions for music, antique furniture, ceramics, second-hand books and poetry. She was also a fantastic plantswoman, the driving force behind the sunken-garden that Peter and I created at our cottage overlooking Cardigan Bay. The plants that she and her partner Ian sourced and brought to us populate it to this day. Toward the end when she was undergoing chemotherapy, we sat outside the cottage as she tugged loosened hair from her scalp and together we bound it into gleaming parcels to push into the hedges for the birds to gather and weave into their nests. I was sitting at the top of the garden in her chair on May Day morning in 2005 when news came of her death. If ever a person died on an appropriate date, it was Catriona on May 1st. She would have thought it an auspicious day to shake off the cares of this world.
Catriona and I had admired this handsome earthenware jug that we spotted in a Montrose antique shop window one Sunday. It was so entirely like her to sneak back when the shop was open in order to purchase the jug as her Christmas gift to me that year. The painting of it was done while she was still around to enjoy seeing that it was being put to good use. Catriona always had an unerring eye for an object that would make a still-life subject for me, and as a consequence there are a few paintings that bear her name in their titles. The setting, as some may recognise, is Tretower.
This is the first of the images we’ve had transferred from transparencies to digital, and so I have a handsome little cache of new images of old paintings to post here over the next few months.