Caroline won the Student Residency Prize in 2008. Here is her reflective essay following the residency:
"My first night in Cromarty began with a ceilidh. What better way to start my residency, with live music and dance, involving community members of all ages. That night I took a few photos, rather blurry, but the next day I felt several of them expressed something of community spirit, so naturally, I painted them.
For the first week I delighted in exploring Cromarty, to look across the Moray Firth towards my home, discovering the pirates’ graveyard and to find the hot spots of the town!
When the sun shines the pier is one of the most popular places to be. Fishing for mackerel and leaping off the pier are favourite activities. I took many photos here and met a few fine folk. I even tried my hand at fishing, which I‘d never done before.
Crossing the Cromarty Firth in the Nigg Ferry is a must. I crossed back and forth a few times, not getting off and took a few particularly great shots of water. Had I been but one hour earlier I would have seen dolphins. This kept happening too me, as I would be informed I had just missed dolphin activity every time I turned up.
So, armed with images of Cromarty and its inhabitants I produced several paintings. Most of them are related to the ceilidh and one of my own passions (dance), with one exception, a landscape of the path down to Eathie Beach where Hugh Miller famously discovered fossils. There I found fossils too, much to my delight. I particularly like the town’s motto, “Mean well, speak well and do well”.
In my third week I held a taster session of Tribal Belly Dance and two art workshops. All were very well attended and great fun. The dance session drew over 20 women of all ages and there I was able to pass on a little of my passion for this type of dance. The art workshops were geared towards ages of 8 to 16 yrs. The youngsters responded with a great out-pouring of creativity within the theme of ‘hopes, dreams and fears’. During the second workshop we placed together all the visual information onto one large wall-hanging for display.
At the end of the third week I finally had ideas in place for a triptych oil painting. Three canvases had been prepared and were waiting expectantly to begin. I decided the best way to symbolize ‘hopes, dreams and fears’ was to use the image of a tree. The tree representing ‘life’ and all the possibilities that occur therein, could play out in its branches and roots. Sadly, one week was not long enough to complete canvases of this size, so this remains as work-in-progress at this point.
The Stables studio was a fantastic space to work in, lots of space and the light. Working alongside other artists made all the difference, so I didn’t feel out on a limb. The general ambience of Cromarty and the Stables studio is very conducive to creativity and the hungry cat, peacocks, bats, owl and mice, all make up to a very memorable and lovely experience. Special thanks to all the people who shared some of their time with me, and to Gail, Alla and Leon."