How does a struggling artist transport a four-feet square painting to its destination using just a Mini?
This was the situation Pam Carter found herself in when she had to take an early commission from Maryhill, Glasgow to Lanarkshire.
Unable to afford professional transport, Pam strapped the painting as securely as possible to the roof of her Mini and set off along the motorway. All seemed well until the wind suddenly lifted the painting and hurled it on to the central reservation!
Although disastrous at the time, this experience is a reminder of how much Pam and her work have changed. And change is very much on Pam’s mind this year, as this is her 25th year of exhibiting at An Talla Dearg Gallery, Isle Ornsay on Skye - 25 years of growth, development and artistic adventure.
Pam’s early awakening to landscape art, for which she is now noted, came at around age 10. “It was in Africa, where I spent the first 13 years of my life. I watched a man painting and that made me observe, for the first time, the landscape,” she reveals. “As I watched him paint it, I saw the patchwork fields and the mountains come alive on paper. What he chose to include in his painting just made sense to me.”
After moving to Glasgow, Pam was accepted into the Glasgow School of Art. “We were painting a lot of statues, busts, architecture, still lives and life drawings,” she said. “But it was later, at an outpost in Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, that I discovered the cliffs and the sea. This was my first introduction to painting in the Scottish landscape
and the results were quite grey and misty with flashes of colour!”
Pam’s approach to landscape underwent another transformation when she spent two years in the Seychelles in the early 1980’s.
“I was amazed by the bright light, the wonderful turquoise waters, the creamy beaches, the big shadows of leaves on the sand...” she reminisces.
“It had a completely different feel to what I was used to. When I returned to Scotland to lecture at various art colleges, I wanted to recapture that Seychelles feel in my art but I was confused as to how.” The answer came in the form of one of Pam’s students from the Uists. “I was exhibiting in Skye and I asked her, if I got the ferry over, would she show me around? She took me to secluded beaches and I saw beautiful landscapes with amazing, ever- changing light. I was just blown away. That was my very first introduction to Uist and, from then on, I decided I would go every year to a different Scottish island.”
An island with which Pam was already familiar was Skye, where she had been invited to run her exhibition at An Talla Dearg by the acclaimed sculptor Laurence Broderick and by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig founder, Sir Iain Noble.
Pam describes her very first Skye exhibition, saying: “I was supposed to be at the Gallery itself, but there had been a fire in the offices so my exhibition was moved to the church up the road. It didn’t have very good light and I couldn’t put anything on the walls. I remember piling up a table and chairs onto another table so I could see out of the windows to paint.”
At the same time, Pam also had to advertise her exhibition. “There were no signs up, so I got a bit of cardboard and white paint and tried to write “Exhibition”, but I misjudged it and there was only room for “EXHIB...” and the “...ITION” had to go underneath!” she laughs. “Sometimes I waved it at cars, but the people who came in were mostly hitchhikers and cyclists. If it hadn’t been for the support of Sir Iain Noble and his wife, Lucilla, I may not have returned. Sir Iain was a great patron of the arts and they were very supportive. By the second year, I returned properly armed! The gallery committee at Hotel Eilean Iarmain, who organise the exhibitions, even arranged for a young piper
to pipe in the guests.” Unfortunately, the same piper, Dr Iain MacKinnon, is unavailable for Pam’s
jubilee exhibition, but she will be organising another talented young piper! “I never would have thought I would be fortunate enough to be here and run my exhibition for 25 years,” she says. “This year will be very special and I have a number of exciting things planned.” To find out what you can expect from Pam’s jubilee exhibition, you can visit her website and blog for updates.
Pam is issuing a warm invitation to Skye residents who have not yet attended the exhibition. “I am featuring a number of paintings from the north of Skye, so it would be lovely if islanders would visit from there,” she says. Those who do attend will see the Scottish islands brought to life in Pam’s paintings. Her distinctive style captures skies streaked with dramatic shades of red; rich, golden sands of Hebridean beaches, or charming images of rural life, complete with machair flowers and single track roads.
Pam Carter’s jubilee anniversary commemorates, not just 25 years of exhibiting, but the evolution of a very special artist. It opens with a private viewing on Saturday July 9th at An Talla Dearg, Isle Ornsay, Isle of Skye, IV43 8QR and runs to August 23, being open 10am-6pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more jubilee news, visit Pam’s website.