Self-Portrait Dreaming of Portavadie 2018 45cm x 60cm (National Museum of Scotland)
In the 1960s, we used to spend our summers at my grandad’s cottage in Portavadie, a little-known, idyllic and remote corner of the west coast of Scotland. The cottage was at the end of a bumpy track on the edge of an oak-fringed, shallow, sandy bay called the Sàilean, (meaning "small inlet”,) where we used to swim and play and where seals, basking sharks, porpoises and snipe were often seen. There was no electricity or running water, but I remember those days as the best of my childhood.
In the mid-1970s, the government sold the surrounding land to a company for the building of oil rig platforms. Portavadie was completely destroyed. The Sàilean had explosives placed in it, turning it into a huge, deep gully. A large, concrete workers’ village was built, new roads for industrial vehicles cut wide scars through the surrounding woodland and a tall, razor-wire wire fence was erected all around my grandad’s cottage.
The company was heavily subsidised, but their designs were outdated and no orders came. The company soon went bankrupt, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill of several million pounds.
Portavadie was left derelict for several decades, until it was eventually sold to a spa hotel company for development into a marina and luxury tourist resort.
In this image, I am dreaming of Portavadie, before and after the cataclysm, joined by my parents (on honeymoon) my brother and the cat from the local farm.
Handblown and salvaged glass which I have sandblasted, engraved, filed, painted and fired.