Postcards: Mei Sheong Wong’s Greetings from Scotland

clockwise from top: Mei Sheong Wong, Achavandra Muir, 2015, etching; Mei Sheong WONG en route to the prehistoric site of the Bear Cave, Scotland, September 2015; Mei Sheong Wong and Ian Westacott at the opening of Ian’s exhibition of etchings at Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh, September 2015.

Printmaker and PCA member Mei Sheong Wong reports on her mentorship with Australian printmaker Ian Westacott in Scotland, UK, August–September 2015.

An Arts SA grant facilitated my recent mentorship with Ian Westacott in northern Scotland. En route, I visited numerous cultural sites, while billeted with the Brenner–Bauer family in Cap d’Ail, France. In Oxfordshire, as guest of the Kang–Fiennes family, I viewed historic Broughton Castle, and precious works on paper by Michelangelo, Raphael and Samuel Palmer in Ashmolean Museum’s Western Art Print Room, Oxford.

Invited by Australian printmaker Tony Linde and Leicester Print Workshop manager Lucy Phillips, I gave an artist talk at LPW on the theme of Revenants in the Scottish mediaeval ballad Clerk Saunders, explored through the materiality of print media (my honours research, 2014), and on my residency at the University of Hawaii in 2015 (facilitated by Helpmann Academy and Prof. Charlie Cohan).

Curator Simon Lake kindly showed me the renowned collection of German Expressionist prints in Leicester New Walk Museum. Nearby, King Richard III’s remains (buried by Grey Friars, after Battle of Bosworth, 1485) had recently been discovered, in an unprepossessing car park, before ceremonial entombment in Leicester Cathedral.

Other places of interest visited were: Leeds; Harrogate; York Minster; Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Glasgow Cathedral; Loch Lomond; Loch Ness; Fort William; Inverness; Dornoch Cathedral; Dunrobin Castle Museum; Embo Cairn; Edderton Churchyard; Orkney Islands – Kirkwall, Skara Brae and Stromness’ Ring of Brodgar.

It was delightful to attend Ian’s exhibition opening at Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh, and to admire his work at Browns Gallery, Tain. Also viewed were Edinburgh’s National Portrait Gallery and Joseph Beuys’ exhibition, Timespan Regional Gallery, Helmsdale. After trekking up to the prehistoric Bear Cave, we travelled across the Highlands – via Bonar Bridge, Rosehall and Oykel Bridge – to Lochinver on the rugged west coast.

En plein air, we drew onto copper plates until way too chilled to grip an etching needle. Respite from inclement weather usually took the form of steaming hot chocolate or single malt whisky. Several plates were etched and proofed, before a last-minute ‘chine collé demo’, at the end of my too-brief sojourn!

This enriching experience was enhanced by Ian’s familiarity with Pictish, Celtic and Neolithic sites; his profound knowledge of great ancient trees; his printmaking expertise; and his boundless generosity. His wife Sue and their son also made me feel most welcome. Still working on my copper plates, I plan to develop a body of work for exhibition, based on this marvelous journey.