Machrihanish Bay from Port Bhan

This was one of my father’s larger paintings, and I loved the blue-green tones along with the gulls in the foreground giving a great sense of movement and depth.

From this point in Kintyre, the sea spreads in all its vastness beyond Antrim and Rathlin to the south and Islay and Gigha to the north, right out into the Atlantic with nothing to break the horizon until you reach Nova Scotia. There is always that sense of the untameable here.

Machrihanish Bay

Machrihanish Bay was a favourite of Kintyre’s William McTaggart, and the painting to the left was his view looking northwards passed Port Bhan.

The styles of both works are poles apart, but each has a particular appeal. Their connection is in the capturing of an essence of atmosphere and place, each interpretation seen through a unique personality. I recognise this special place with great affection, a yearning perhaps; an intangible mist of memory and belonging.

In the words of Valerie Dunbar’s popular song:

Always Argyll, always Argyll
Long will the memory linger
I’ll soon have to think of Australia as home
But the truth will be always Argyll

Of course, I am not leaving for Australia. My home is no more than 55 miles away in Kilmartin, so I need not feel overly sentimental or nostalgic. I shall probably see the place in a few days time when I head down the peninsula to visit my mother near Southend, but a little self-indulgent Romanticism is appropriate now and again.

Thanks for the vision, Dad. You would have been 90 years old now.

George John Stewart of Dalbuie, April 2016

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