Sculptor Kev Paxton
I was researching outdoor installation artists for The Loch Earn Tourism Information group (LETi) and recognised one of his sculptures "Bill The Bull" from an article that I had read in the Scottish Field Magazine.
I contacted Kev for advice initially, however, our mutual enthusiasm for "art that makes you smile" resulted in Kev becoming a key exhibitor in the BLiSS trail - a roadside art trail that links the villages of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead Strathyre and St Fillans via Sustrans Cycle Route 7 and the A84 and A85.
Kev and I were both interviewed for STV news at six at the launch of #BLiSStrail.
The art and architectural installation trail earned our tourism group a Visit Scotland regional Scottish Thistle Award for "Working Together for Tourism". I was extremely proud to pick up the trophy as Chair of LETi and delighted that Fraser and representatives of the BLS Highland Games were by my side to enjoy the moment.
Bill The Bull enjoyed a scenic position outside The Lochearnhead Hotel during 2016 #BLiSStrail, as per the photo below by Dave Murray
Charity Founder Lynne McNicoll OBE
Kev and ArtFe partner Cat, are ambassadors for the "Its Good 2 Give" charity that Lynne founded.
Kev had organised for his sculpture Bill The Bull to be painted in bright colours by children in return for donations that he forwarded to Lynne's charity and her ambitious Ripple Retreat building project.
The building is now complete and you can read this exceptional story of fundraising, collaboration, generosity, hard work and belief in the news.
I think Lynne has surpassed her vision of a tranquil building offering space where young cancer patients can enjoy exclusive time with their families. The 3 bedroom retreat offers beautiful things to see, hear, read, play and do. It boasts a great line of Patrons now including Lorraine Kelly who opened the retreat.
That's me on the left next to Cat (Catherine Stops) who is accepting our community cheque for Its Good 2 Give.
Artist Kev Paxton is in the middle. Lochearnhead local Martin Sanders, who co-ordinated the football event and raffle, is handing over the cheque to Cat and married ladies football captain Ollie Cameron of Lochside Cottages Lochearnhead, is on the right.
The photograph was taken in front of Kev's sculpture Blawn Wi The Wind that stands proudly in Briar Cottages garden on Loch Earn. Dave Murray took the photograph..
Photographer Dave Murray
Dave is now a regular visitor and has taken many stunning photographs here including Blawn Wi The Wind, the giant thistles sculpture by Kev Paxton, that lights up our garden at night.
After exhibiting three of Kev's sculptures in Briar Cotttages loch garden, we decided to mark our silver anniversary last year, by making Blawn Wi The Wind a permanent feature alongside Stan The Stag (who also lights up at night against the dark skies of Lochearnhead).
Dave is a school janitor with a passion for Scottish landscape photography. He regularly travels from Dundee to capture Loch Earn at first light before travelling on to Glencoe.
Dave had a presence on Facebook when I first met him. I introduced him to Twitter and his photos under the handle @Canniejannie are now hugely popular.
Dave has taken some fantastic photos of Kev Paxton's sculptures and is an admirer of his work. He follow's Kev's progress and press coverage on social media.
I know that Kev and Cat are also impressed with Dave's photographs of ArtFe sculptures at Briar Cottages and on the BLiSS trail - as they are of artist @JoSunshineArt who has interpreted some of Dave's photo's as drawings,
She uses bright coloured Caran D'Ache wax crayons to create size A1 happy pictures that have lovely compositions and movement.
Jo started to draw Briar Cottages and photo's of Stan The Stag and Kev's thistles based on Dave Murray's photographs that I had shared on Twitter, taken around Briar Cottages.
In the mean time Kev Paxton gifted Bill the Bull to Lynne McNicoll's Ripple Retreat garden.
I was lucky to be invited to see the Ripple Retreat. What an incredible building and gardens.
I asked Jo if she would draw a composition of Bill The Bull at the Ripple Retreat having seen that colourful pictures were needed for the whitewashed lounge and bedroom walls.
Jo and I have since collaborated to donate the picture below, which I am having framed for delivery this week. I love this drawing and I know that it will be dear to Lynne's heart because of the connection with Bill the Bull, The Ripple Retreat and Kev Paxton.
Even with partial sight, Jo does not miss a trick and her version appeared on Twitter.
I am delighted to read that Jo is having an exhibition of work this summer at Cass Art, 63 - 67 Queen Street, Glasgow, G1 3EN, between 24th June and 9th July. Guaranteed to be bright and full of Jo's style and humour.
Jo sells her pictures on Etsy and via The Jo Sunshine Art Facebook page. Enjoy!
Matilda The Tandem & Crew
This is my first experience with a blogging tandem bike.
She is a vintage gal but don't underestimate her fitness on the road.
I noticed that Matilda had blogged about the Lochearnhead Loop of the BLiSS trail on Twitter and Facebook. Matilda carries Stoker Diane and Captain Colin (spotted above kissing Bill The Bull) on all of her adventures. I invited Matilda to return and do the Strathyre and Balquhidder sections of the Bliss art trail.
Matilda picked up the challenge and the team are now regular favourite characters in the area. You can read all about Matilda's experiences - including visiting all of the BLiSS trail installations, challenging me to be the stoker, experiencing local music, food and culture festivals and more on her blog site called Matildas Musings.
I even sang the song A Bicycle Built For Two during her Strathyre adventures, which Matilda shared on her YouTube page.
Not only has Matilda been photographed with Kev Paxton sculptures like Bill The Bull and Blawn Wi The Wind, the tandem and crew have also been drawn by @JoSunshineArt.
Matilda was so impressed that she bought Jo's drawing for Colin and Diane! Jo even captured a drawing of the tandem team after they appeared on a recent episode of Landward near a BLiSS trail installation called The Look Out where Dougie Vipond was filming around Loch Voil.
Aye, Its amazing who you meet on social media and how one open door can lead to another adventure with talented and fascinating folk (and a tandem)!