Words & Images……‘My Luscious Long Hair’….. Just Because….Tombs of the Isles…

by Bernie Bell - 08:24 on 14 April 2023

Words & Images

Well now – coincidence – synchronicity….something like that…

I recently had an email exchange with someone I know about the relative attention paid to the authors of books, and the illustrators.

I said…

“Maybe nit-picking …but…..images are what catch the eye first - and  you can connect with an image when you can’t manage to take on board the meaning of words – I speak from experience.

Both matter equally – but images hit the eye more immediately.

Often, the writer of a book is the name that’s mentioned not the illustrator – but - look at how much the images have added to books.  I’m thinking  of Edward Ardizzone, for one.”

She replied….

“Indeed, both matter equally and it is the space between them that makes them sing.”

I was thinking how much ‘Leaving the Loch’ is a good example of words and images weaving together – and singing.

And then, I received the following from Kilmorack Gallery….…

Kwikn: to quicken, to come to life. 'Kwiknin o de tide:' the increasing of the sea-current with the changing of the phases of the moon.

Krotli: agitated: choppy (with small waves breaking against each other): a krotli sea. South Shetland”

The bible says the first word was ‘God,’ but in the north, it was probably a weather-word: kwikn, krotl, dask, drooklin, innsog, pusk, skuder, gruggie, snarr. These are all Shetland words that describe the intimacies of what blows in. Maybe weather – from storms to sun – with its ultimate power over us, is akin to ‘God’ but just using another one of her many names.
Kilmorack Gallery’s latest exhibition brings together Janette Kerr and Peter Davis in a duo of shows - ‘Kwikn’ and ‘Krotli’ – which, like the weather-words, show what it means to the people that live through northern storms. If you hear the ‘swaa,’ that is the sound of the sea heard from a distance. When you are in it, in the eye of the storm, the ‘megin,’ you feel the ‘skelter,’ a ‘Katrisper.’ The gale is around you. Eventually, there is a ‘lunk,’ a calming of the weather. These words and paintings describe power and awe, and the wet and cold reality of the romantic sublime, and they take us closer to forces which will outlast everything.

This weather obsession has been part of the lives of Janette Kerr and Peter Davis for their entire working lives. Kerr travels between studios in the south of England and Brindinster on Shetland, and Peter Davis works from his sea-facing home at Silwick on the western fringes of the island. The two artists approach painting in different ways. Davis is slow and controlled. He moves pigment and water around paper, mimicking natural processes studied from his clifftop perch. In his paintings, pigment drops like sediment. They have been laid there by Davis’s controlled washes. Paper, Davis finds, is a special medium because the elements (water, pigment and paper) combine to become one and there is something special in this deep embedding. He seeks (and finds) abstractions and compositions which create the feeling of wide sea and sky, because they are a microcosm of it.

Kerr works in oil and often on a large scale. The largest canvas in this exhibition is 3m long; and it pulls you into it, drenching the viewer in cold and salty ocean. It conjures how, when in a small boat in a big sea, you are part of the movement of water. You rise and fall with it. There are big movements that threaten to sink or save the boat and there are small waves that drench you in a mist (a Brenna.) Kerr is interested in the science of waves as well as the aesthetics, and the results are powerful. It is no surprise that these sea paintings are so sought after and she is considered one of the finest painters of the sea around. “

Tony Davidson, Gallery Director.


Peter Davis 'Kwikn'

6th May - 27th May

Peter Davis (b. 1953) works in the fluid medium of watercolour to create 'a microcosm of the natural world.' Based in Shetland, his paintings of the far North are more mindscape than landscape, reminiscent of the economy and grace of Chinese Art. The still centre of contemplation we experience in nature is distilled in Davis’ art.”

Please click for more information

Janette Kerr 'Krotli'

6th May - 27th May

Jannette Kerr (b. 1959) is known for her paintings of the far North and High Arctic. Her direct experience of coastline, weather and oceanographic studies, push the boundaries between representation and abstraction.

Please click for more information

Here are some weather-words…

Alikrogi – a weakly animal that cannot stand the cold.
Bladd – a very large raindrop.
Blashey wadder – wet and unsettled weather.
Blooter – a wet mass or jelly.
Brenna – a fine mist-like spray from heavy breakers.
Brennek – a mock-sun.
Dask – a dense haze of fog.
Dofnin – abatement of storm and rough weather.
Duffin – moderating in weather.
Fjora – foreshore
Flinterkin – (1) a very dry cowpat. (2) a light snow shower.
Gruggie – dim, dark and threatening.
Gven – an improvement in the weather
Haagle – boundless; implacable; remorseless
Hoolan – a strong gale
Hoss – the muffled murmur of lapping waves on the shore in calm water.
Innsog – the suck of the sea towards the land.
Katrisper – a very strong gale
Kwal – to lull, to abate (applied to wind)
Livd – a calming, abating of bad weather.
Lenfter – of the sky; to clear and form a bright patch.
Glet – mild weather.
Lunk – a calming, clearing of the weather.
Maegins – the heart or depth (especially of the night.)
Megin – the centre (especially the night)
Org – oppressive heat (it is mostly described as oppressive.)
Platt – perfectly calm.
Pusk – to come in gusts of increasing violence.
Rullyo – a heap of stones on a beach thrown up by the sea.
Runk – dry weather.
Skelter – a great commotion in the sea.
Skudder – driving, thrashing rain.
Snarr – turn of the tide.
Swaa – the noise of the sea heard from a distance."

Kilmorack Gallery, by Beauly, Inverness-shire IV4 7AL
+44 (0) 1463 783 230

Always open by appointment. Full opening times online.

Exhibitions & Arrivals
Gallery Artists


I have to add – ‘dreich’ – no word better describes a certain kind of day.

Re. ‘blooter’ – a very drunk person can be described as being ‘blootered’ – egggg-zactly!


My Luscious Long Hair

Bartholomew Barker is full of surprises…the prompt for this poem was…. “Write a poem about a body part.”

My Luscious Long Hair

It falls out in the autumn
leaving me bald as a stump
but by April, golden green
buds are ready to blossom.

Come summer my hair will be long,
brushing the river’s edge,
and a calm green to rival the pines
who never feel the bite of winter.

The wind will run her fingers
through my locks and they will dance
to hypnotize the fish below, jealous
in the shaded water.

Bartholomew Barker


Just Because

Reading this brought back so many memories….


Hot Pants – mini-skirts – maxi-dresses and coats – big, bold patterns…..I had a culotte dress with a pattern of yellow and orange swirls and a zip up the front – zips on everything - BRIGHT colours – great big sunglasses with bright plastic frames – ‘Granny’ shoes that my sister ( a nurse) said looked like orthopaedic corrective footwear – I didn’t care.


For those too young to remember…..



Tombs of the Isles

In Eday again for a project up-date – this time looking at Eday church stalled cairn….don’t let the name confuse you!



Here’s one I made earlier…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/08/28/a-meditation/


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