Home for Christmas

I may have posted this image before (on Facebook), but if so, I believe it deserves re-viewing, even if Christmas 2015 has come and gone. I was reminded of it because of the flurries of snow in Argyll these last few days; and having just walked our terrorist, sorry, terrier puppy through the falling snow – you know, come to think of it; terrorist puppy is possibly nearer the mark.

Returning home out of the snow, coming into the warm welcoming surroundings and then gazing out at the fields steadily whitening, is a very satisfying and reassuring thing.

The painting was very popular in The Oystercatcher Gallery as a card and print, and Dad used it himself as a Chistmas card.  It was painted on one of those rare years when the snow would fall on South Kintyre and stay – if only for a day or two.

Dad loved painting ships of all kinds, and fishing boats in particular. His last work was “Mending The Trawl”; of boats in Tarbert Harbour. Here, Campbeltown Old Quay is the scene of the boats moored over the Christmas and New Year period, when the men were home from the sea to spend time with their families and friends; taking a well-earned rest from their labours.

Campbeltown at one time had a large fishing fleet, and it was said that one could walk across the loch stepping from boat to boat, so densely packed they were. These were the Loch Fyne skiffs. Tarbert subsequently pioneered the Ringnet fishing method with larger craft, but they days of the large fleets are gone. Even in my childhood in the 1950’s and 1960’s there were a great many boats working out of Campbeltown. Now, the herring have left the Clyde and fishing quotas have torn the heart out of the industry. The painting shows only a handful of boats, when once the inner harbour would have been filled. It is a memorial, in a sense, to a time now relegated to history; of a way of life where the season is now forever winter.

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