Tell me a story of Fire and Ice…..

And then it snowed!
We do not get much snow here in Argyll, West Coast, Scotland.
It rarely lies for long.
This is due to the Gulf Stream that flows along our coast.
(This Gulf Stream is also the reason we have some pockets of pristine temperate rainforest locally, havens for tree ferns, lichens and mosses, and why palm trees can thrive here!)
When it does lie I become very sensorily heightened.
I am a snow lover.
I love the Peace, Mystery, Wonder and Magik that it brings with it.
I love how it slows everything down and shows us a brand new, pristine, crystalline, world.
I love the memories it brings with it, of places I have lived that get real snow, snow that lies all winter, metres thick, in Poland and Germany.
And, prehaps, carried in my DNA, some deeper, past life, memories too.

I also love to get snowed in, but here that barely ever happens…..

As a child my Finnish mother taught me how to make snowlanterns. Known as ‘snölykta’ in Sweden.
What a treat to see it glow in the light of the waxing Wolf Moon ( 5 days from full)

kat robertson artist

I have included a link to another blog (above) that shows how to make these, but took a few pictures myself.
It really is very simple and a lovely activity to do with children.

See how it flickers in the wind.
A beacon on the hill.

snowlantern flickers from Kat Robertson on Vimeo.

(I forgot to mention….if it is windy where you make one of these….it helps to fill in the gaps with a thin layer of snow. After a while the inside melts, making a glassy ‘lining’… which make it more windproof.)

My teenage boys are not as excited by the snow as they once were, so I dragged my 16 year old son out to play with me.
I let him decide what our snow sculpture would be this year.
After a little thought he said he would like to make a CHAIR!
This made me laugh.
Coming from a teen who has barely moved from his chair, in front of his PC, for months now, I suddenly saw this as a perfect example of ‘Lockdown Art’!!
Orignally going to be a ‘snow throne’ it turned into a, rather chilly, armchair!
These photos were taken at night, in the torchlight.
A mysteriously inviting piece of snow furniture that lasted only one night.

Illusion in a Pringles can!

My teen boys buy Pringles crisps.
I never know what to do with the empty ‘cans’, so hoard them!
They look so useful for something!

I made some simple kaleidoscopes, as gifts, last year, and aim to use up my, growing, collection making more, for sale from the Gaia Hut next year.
So far I have assembled 9 tubes.
Just need to think of a way to decorate the tubes….

I’m going to experiment with imagining other crafty uses for the Pringles Can.
So many tubes.
(I have explained they are not real food….)
Possibly enough now to make set for a puppet show?!

Had a bit of fun trying to photograph what the viewer sees when they look through.
These are taken just holding an A4 scan of dried flowers between the Light and the kaleioscope, and moving it around.
I will probably cut this image out and use it for these kaleioscopes, but it can be changed to anything.
The image viewed can be any print copy of anything!

Loved this tri-fairy that popped up!

Elf Ears are ON!

I had thought there might still be a Christmas market. It was cancelled.
Then thought that hubby would get round to fixing the Gaia Hut’s lights and brakes and that I’d go it alone.
A single COVID freindly, stall, in the village…he didn’t, so neither did I.
All is locking down again .
At least, the pressure was off to complete all my curious makes, for market, in time.
Everything I make becomes ‘stock’ for next year’s Gaia Hut adventures anyway….
Now the whole Xmas present making/Solstice doing Time is upon us.
Elf Ears are on!
It’s become a bit of a family tradition.
Playing a fantasy ‘elf ‘ , Santa’s not-so-secret, moany, house-elf, with these latex ear extensions, helps get me through this ‘season of excess’ and ‘expectation’…. I’d miss it all out all together if I was not ‘Mum’….a right Bear-Humbug by Nature…..
When not writing lists, cooking, pickling, wrapping/assembling hampers for family, decorating,
I escape into making.
Music on.
Positive distraction.
Pottering between responsibilites and my ‘artden’ cocoon.
Eating too much butter and chocolate.
Too much coffee and tobacco.
A bit of this, a bit of that.
As the mood takes me.

Here’s a glimpse into my ‘elvish’ doings…..

Gilding the Kitchen Light.
This dosn’t really count as a ‘make’, but it was ‘elvish’ work!
And the kitchen really began to feel quite festive! There was gold dust all over the kitchen and me!

Rendering my own pure’ish’ beeswax

Last summer’s dried flowers: realeased from the press.
Lovely releasing these colours of summer into our, now, winter world and working with them.

Rush cord peg dollies : 3 metres of organic, wrapping twine on a peg dolly.
Link to post showing how this cord is made:

Avocado stone/pit carvings
Link to first attempt :
Just feeling into the shape of each stone/pit.
This time I used a bit of pyro-burn technique too.
Ended up with 3 bears and a wee bird skull.
Totally useless little totem things.
But nice to hold.
A beginners work. Need to keep practising my whittling!
(And get new glasses…these are so tiny to work on!)

Lots going on my little ‘workshop’…. will share more as it arises!

UPDATE 25th DECEMBER : Turned out to be a great way to keep the foliage off the table!
Happy feasting all!

What a difference a frame makes!

So happy that the right person came along to the exhibition and bought ‘CROWNE’ from me.
He was into tattoo inking and she spoke to him.
(Apparently, the fact that my artist freind, who did most of the advertising for the show, had used this image on the poster, meant that ‘to see Crowne’ was the main reason he came to the exhibition in the first place.
She ‘caaaaaa-lled’ to him.
I wish I was better at ‘advertising’.)

He wanted it framed, so I contacted a local artist/framer.
I had a clear vision that I wanted a burned frame.
We found a wooden frame that looked as if it could ‘take a burning’ and, after he had constructed it, I took it home to ‘distress with flame’.
After burning the frame, with a blow torch, I washed, scrubbed and waxed it.
It looked great.
The framer told me it was a ‘real bugger’ though, as, when the picture was being mounted, some small charred pieces kept appearing behind the glass.
He had to re-do it four times!!
But the end result does look amazing.
I wept when I saw it first time.
I think many artists will agree, it is easy to dismiss ‘older’ works that do not find new homes.
They lie, unseen, in a folder/ a drawer until, eventually, hard choices have to be made.
This drawing was very special to me though. I probably would have kept it for years.

But wow! How it came together in a frame!

I have a kind of allergy to the ubiqitous ‘rectangle’ of a frame though.
Always reminds me of the ‘cage of our conditioning’.
And as this work was always, essentially, been the illustration to a favorite poem of mine, I thought I would make a scroll to attach onto the back of it.
So story and picture remained together.

I made a quill from a crow’s feather and painstakingly wrote out the poem. Then aged the paper with teabags and burned the edges.
Then stuck both quill and scroll on the back of the painting using real red sealing wax.

Luckily the customer loved this too, despite my ‘authentic’ calligraphy!
I hope they will be very happy together for years to come.

Open Studios Event. 21st – 30th August 2020. #ArtMapArgyll

It all started with the invitation from fellow artist and member of ArtMap Argyll, Lizzie Rose, to join her in the village of Ardfern, for this event.

This was a perfect, first, trial of the travelling gallery/studio on wheels. Only 6 miles of country road between our house and hers.

The whole 10 days was quite an adrenaline rush for this quiet, simple living, hill dweller! I am only just landing over a week after it finished!

I already shared a cheeky wee video of us arriving at hers, but here I will share more of those 10 days and of all I learned from working with this Hut, that I affectionately call the ‘Gaia Hut’.

It really was a joy to share space with another artist and her lovely family.
A joy too to be more in the centre of things, in our local village, and meet so many new, curious, people.

To experience the Hut working.

Perhaps I will start there, with these words copied from my FB profile. Words inspired by watching this wonderful video , titled ‘Guardians….not Gardeners’, featuring Mary Reynolds.

“Loved this so much I am weeping 💚 Especially this part in her introduction.

“The real truth of these goddesses is that they were wild, they were ambiguous, they were not gentle. They were as mad as a brush in the way that any good wild woman is. They are angry, very highly sexual. There is nothing hidden in them them, only truth. The truth of what true Nature is when it is allowed to be. We have actually lost Nature.” Mary Reynolds.

I am no goddess, but in this last week of public exposure, I often felt ‘mad as a brush’ as I clumsily explained ‘Gaia’, standing barefoot, or described how I garden with ‘weeds’, my deep love of them, how we have to sit in Nature, really look, really listen and learn the lessons from it.
How we need to become stiller to hear that.
When I explained the role/how I use my home-made smudge sticks. Showed others what I see in the branches, got excited about the beauty of the collected wasp-spit paper, babbling re-compost the importance of soil, of ‘shit’, my new love of ‘brown’. Talked of how we need to learn new ways with what grows now in abundance, the bracken, the rushes, demonstrated my rush cordage making. Talked of indigenous understandings and ancient myths.
How ALL my art comes from this place of honoring, playing and being curious.
How I am, slowly, phasing out big works and framing, the buying of factory produced pigments and materials, in favour of home-made pigments and recycled backings.
How my work now focuses on, slowly, using up all the hoarded materials of the years.
Also how I am moving away too, from the retangle ‘cage’ of conditioning. How my art is becoming all ‘small and original’.
How I have ‘reconnected with my inner child at 51 and am determined to never let go of her.’
How my own creativity is becoming a multi-media, travelling, song.
A loving response to the environment I find myself in.
One lady described my ‘wilder’ illustrations, with horns and talons, as ‘gruesome’. We had a good chat about that 😉
Others eyes twinkled at my ‘battiness’, but I could feel were rejecting my message. Not listening really.
Many loved the physical trailer, but barely looked at my expressions. Too small, not impressive. Ridiculous even.
My favorite visitors were always the children……as without exception they all got it. Instantly.
I am deeply grateful to all those that purchased pieces from me and made this whole event a ‘success’. To experience that the Gaia-Hut can be ‘viable’ has helped my confidence enormously. (It also has helped our family dynamics in this econmically driven world!), but it is the MESSAGE of the Hut that means most to me.
I can only pray that some felt it…..I am exhausted now from standing in my truth under such public scrutiny for 10 whole, continuous, days. Shattered. Unsure, even now, whether I should share these words, but this video come in Divine Timing, and this lady’s eloquence encourages me to do so.
Perhaps I can learn from her how to refine my schpeel….or perhaps my wild, ambigous, slightly angry and sensual approach to creative expression is just enough…..?
Perhaps we can all become humble gods and goddesses, loving guardians of this land???”

I think perhaps these words hold most of the experience for me!
This little hut has been a long time in the dreaming.

I also, significantly, learned that ‘Gaianism‘ is becoming ‘a thing’ these days. Something I had been unaware of.

Definition of Gaia by Merriam-Webster
the hypothesis that the living and nonliving components of earth function as a single system in such a way that the living component regulates and maintains conditions (such as the temperature of the ocean or composition of the atmosphere) so as to be suitable for life
alsothis system regarded as a single organism

(More words copied from my FB profile.)

“Gaia.”What is Gaia?”
So many people asked this during my wee exhibition with the Gaia Hut. All I could really say is that I understood it on a deep level from the first time I heard this expression, this word. I explained in simple terms and pointed them in the direction of James Lovelock’s work. His marvellous, remarkable, life changing, Gaia theory.
Randomly I wondered, as I ‘spread the word’, if I was a ‘Gaianist’. If there was such a thing as ‘Gaianism’. I googled it and blow me….there is now! 😮 Not really one for ‘ists’ and ‘isms’.
I do find I resonate with nearly all contained here though.
I wonder what James Lovelock makes of this new branch of ‘his’ tree??
I do not see him as a ‘guru’, certainly not a spiritual leader, ….but I am deeply appreciative of his brilliance as a great thinker, scientist and author. And for giving us this glorious word to discuss the WHOLE of it. 💚🌎🌍🌏

Perhaps this is enough words?

All that is left is to share a few videos of the event, the second and third cobbled together from all the photos I took, and to thank again all who came and enjoyed.
To thank, also, all who bought my #100daystreetales and other experimental, Gaia-inspired, artworks.

Please look out for the Gaia Hut in the lay-bys, camping and beauty spots around Argyll next year.

You would always be most welcome to come in for a chat and a cuppa!

Hope you enjoyed those!

(The music for the last one was one of my kookie music experiments. On my own, in my box room, playing with myself and Audacity app. It just happened to fit perfectly. So Grateful. )

Gaia Hut build. Spring/Summer 2020.

Well, more than a week has gone by since we, the Gaia Hut and I, trundled home, after it’s first, official road test and the exhibition.
It has taken me this long to edit all the photos and assimilate all the goings on.
I think I can safely call it a Success!
I sold many of my ‘small, but original’ works (even a couple of bigger ones!) and everyone seemed delighted by this tiny gallery/studio on wheels.
As am I.

So this post is a rewind to the build that led up to that event.

Continuing the build in preparation for first road test and exhibition 2020

I wish I had documented the build this year as seperate blog posts, but the push to complete, in time for the ArtMap Argyll Open studio event, was intense!
I simply did not have the Time. (I am also a mother, home keeper and gardener!)

The Gaia Hut was used to exhibit in 2019, but was far from finished!
I still needed to repaint/build bed system/install woodburner/finish, hang, wings/build honeycomb storage/fit washing machine window in door/invent cover for rainy days/construct floor/generally strengthen structure/get electrics working…..the list was long.

(The main build ‘story’ of 2019 is intertwined the dense diary of the 72 Japanese Seasons project! I have though added a button in the main menu that brings up posts connected with her transition from box trailer to tiny gallery. , GAIA HUT – BUILD)

So after the Hut sitting as wood/tool store for the long winter, I got cracking again in the spring.

I did not stop to take many pictures, but here is what I have to share.

(Click on first image to see in Gallery format with more of the story attached. On my laptop the words are hidden and you need to use the down arrow to see them. Must chat with wordpress about this!)

I made this collage of, previous, build photos, as so many people asked, during the exhibition, what it was before, how I had made it etc.
I hung this, laminated, on the outside so people could see.
Some photos are repeated here, but hope it gives the general idea!?

So now, after the exhibtion, this wee hut on wheels is ready for me to work in as my garden studio, take out to do more land/location based work, use to write and meditate in and even sleep/live in on my, future, road trips.
It brings me closer to an old way of Life that I loved.
Closer too, to the Earth and the elements.
I can escape ‘the House-box’ once more.
And it can take me away from the isolated, protection, of our hill and out into the wider world that beckons.

Also, hidden in the storage is a 5m tent tipi (with it’s own wee burner) and two camp beds. The table/bed also becomes a sofa using the futon matress (cut to size) that also fits in under the table. Space too for lots of cushions and blankets. I have a travelling stove and lovely, little, kerosene lamps, left to me by my late mother.
I took all this kit to the exhibition with me to test that it all fitted and it does, even with the extra artwork, materials etc.

After much deliberation I have decided to keep it as a ‘power-free space’ and not pursue solar/wind power kits. It feels so good to step away from the digital ‘noise’.
I may be forced to enter the world of the SMART phone though, out of necessity, not something I relish the idea of. We’ll see…

I do have to practise reversing and towing the Hut though, as I am still very nervous on the road. No problems with it’s road worthiness though! It has now been thoroughly checked over by a professional mechanic. I intend to make a sign for the back too, apologising to other road users for it’s slow speed and I might need to consider selling my 1.9 estate in favor of something with a bit more oomph!

Ideas of UK wide travel are dissolving too. I cannot imagine going on a motorway with this precious baby! There are, after all, so many stunning locations within reach of Home, here, to explore.

My dreams of using it for a puppet show are very much alive (one of the reasons for the push out window!) Hoping to entertain many, in Argyll, with my Gaia inspired show.

So many possible uses for such a structure.

I could rent it, locally, for outdoor events, as a dry hub/a DJ booth/a food vending stall. During the exhibition I realised it would not take that much work to create ‘kits’ that could turn it into a mobile sauna or , even, a very posh, compost toilet!!

Looking forward now to future adventures…….

But not before I have posted about the exhibition itself….

Gaia Hut is on the Move!

I have been so buzy. Getting the Gaia Hut finished and then there was the epic first journey over to Ardfren village (approx. 6 miles of country road) to take part in #ArtMapArgyll open studio event.
A local artist freind had invited me to come and join her in her beautiful garden. It really is the perfect ‘first trip’ for the hut and could not imagine a more perfect place to be. Surrounded by flowers, butterflies and bumble bees….

More pictures of the build and goings on at the event to follow……

#100daystreetales (pt 5)

The 100 day project is complete!

I have been very buzy setting up an exhibition in the village, but somehow I have managed to keep up with the days!!

These are drawn, direct with permanent, indian ink onto the inkjet print paper after spending some Time with the shapes in the branches and ‘seeing’ what arises in them.
They are not penciled out first.
They are then stained with a homemeade stain made from alder-bark.
This can be layered for shading and has a beautiful, natural, luminous quality.

All of this batch are ‘first-takes’, with no-re-draws this Time!

Each addition is published daily on Facebook, where the whole collection, so far, can be viewed at #100daystreetales (typed in Facebook search)
The comments have been encouraging and fun!

Or follow these links for previous blog posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

And last, but not least…’s a hedgehog!
It was so sweet.
A freind of mine came to the Gaia-Hut exhibition and looked through all the 100 days images and had a bit of a sad face….she so wanted to find hedgehog, as she had been having a lovely time with some in her garden!

I picked up the next blank…and there it was! A hedgehog.

Hope this will make her happy when she next visits.


Avocado turtle carving.

A little sea turtle carving I carved out of an avocado stone/pit.

Very satisfying.

There is a little preparation of the stone/pit first, but plenty of YouTube videos to show you how!

Contentedly passing away some hours.

I love to feel it in my pocket, its a very tactile little thing.

Hope it will ‘oil’ up in Time and get ‘polished’.

#100treetales (pt 4)

The 100 day project continues on!

Been finding it harder to keep up with this the last few weeks.
But ‘not doing’ one day means doing two the next and that is quite a push to get them done!

These are drawn, direct with permanent, indian ink onto the inkjet print paper after spending some Time with the shapes in the branches and ‘seeing’ what arises in them.
They are not penciled out first.
They are then stained with a homemeade stain made from alder-bark.
This can be layered for shading and has a beautiful, natural, luminous quality.

All of this batch are ‘first-takes’, with no-re-draws this Time!

Each addition is published daily on Facebook, where the whole collection, so far, can be viewed at #100daystreetales (typed in Facebook search)
The comments have been encouraging and fun!

Or follow these links for previous blog posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

After I published Day 64/’bareback’ a freind got in touch saying that she could see another horse in the same shadow picture.
(I sometimes publish the original ‘blank’ asking if viewer’s can see how I got there.)
She sent me a simple drawing to show me where. I was blown away!
When I had sat down to do it the picture had simply screamed “Horse!” at me, but I was struggling to ‘see’ it.
I did, after much squinting, find a horse and rider.

But the horse she could see was mighty, using the whole page!
And so totally clear , once she had shown me, I could not ‘unsee’ it!

So I printed a repeat shadow pic and drew her stallion out.

I think it is my favorite from this batch as result of such collaboration! Interesting how I often ‘know’ what I am looking for too…..even if I do not always ‘see’ it right away…

Day 74! Getting there!

(click on first image to view as gallery)

I also recieved some other interesting feedback today, on Facebook.

A friend commented that she ‘thought they all tended to look imprisoned and a little sad.’

I found that is so interesting.

I take the shapes I see in the spaces, between the branches and ‘draw them out’, (a kind of organic suduko ), the process feels more about ‘freeing’ to me.
I guess also ‘freeing’ the imagination.

There is also the idea of ALL Life being held in ‘Tree’, which I like.

These are, though, ‘shadow branches’ and, the longer this project continues, sometimes I have felt like I am drawing a kind of role-call for all that may be lost in the future.
I also kind of ‘capture’ what I see, as they ARE ‘caught’ in the branches..
I prefer the idea of them being gentley ‘held’ though!

I have long been a bit obessed by ideas that it is the SPACES BETWEEN that defines ALL.
That, as a human-race, we are very obessed with visible matter and inclined not to notice the much larger, ‘invisible’, fields that, to me, surround and define.
This is what I affectionately call ‘the Gap’, and this obsession has fed into the seed of this project!

Then there is the mono-chrome.
The faded, sienna, look of these drawings.

I do love ink and stain, but I also often miss colour, especially now that we are in summer!

But for continuity and ‘the collection’ I feel I must maintain this technique for all 100 of these ‘tree tales’!

So, as others have also commented, they are multi-dimsional little works….

Another aspect worth sharing is how they help to ground me daily in these strange days of ‘not knowing’……