In September 2015 I decided to trial living back up North and see if I would like to make it a permanent move from Glasgow. Within a matter of weeks I was sure this would be one of the best moves of my life!
I signed up for the Bridgehouse Art portfolio course on a part time basis. Looking back now, how did I ever fit it in with all the music I was still doing!? Somehow I did, and my goal since has been to try and make more time for art in my life. This is proving tough but I shall persevere! The art course was the perfect introduction to living back in the Highlands as it allowed me to become instantly part of a community. As I expected, the Ullapool community has been so welcoming and that is an important reason to stay.
My home, sense of place and identity have always influenced my music and I think living back in the heart of this has been very positive for my work. I have played more music in the last two years than ever before and some really exciting projects have come my way since taking a step back – collaborating with King Creosote, recording an album with Mike Vass, composing for ten pipers in Tryst and for five accordions with Accordionesse, first performed at Celtic Connections this year. The regular Sunday session in The Arch Inn with one of my good friends, Kim Richards, has also been a fun musical treat each week.
It does sound quite grand to say but the art course and living back in Ullapool really have been life changing for me. I love the slower pace of life, the sense of being part of a thriving community and living by the sea is so calming. Many folk have said “oh but the winters are long up there.” Long days in the summer are great to get out and about but the winter is a time for reflection and I think a time to be most creative but painting in the cold does have its challenges!
The transition up North has been a slow one and I’ve made a few nonsense one -off journeys down the A9 for work and on occassions will probably still have to do that. In order to help keep me in one place, I now enjoy working at The Ceilidh Place managing their art exhibitions and I also do some regular teaching for Feis Rois. Myself and Anna are also working on our fourth album together and Mike Vass and I have some more compositional collaborations planned.
I am still striving for a more balanced lifestyle (if that exists!?) but ultimately I am home more and I am making more time for painting and composition as I’ve always dreamed. It has its challenges but I am thankful that I have been able to make this my reality for now anyway. As you have read, Ullapool is the way for me.
Thanks for reading my blog.