Actress Alexandra Mathie and writer Angela Cairns (‘Anna Carlisle’) spent a seraphic week in a cottage just along from Joan Eardley’s former cottage in Catterline, on the east coast of Kincardineshire.
The week’s R&D began en route with a visit to Matilda Mitchell and Douglas Hall, near Kelso in the Borders. Douglas is former – and was the first – Keeper of the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and his wife Matilda the art historian who was commissioned to catalogue over 700 of Joan Eardley’s drawings. This inspiring couple showed us their own private collection of Eardley paintings (3) and devoted several hours of their precious afternoon to listening to our plans for the Eardley project and, seemingly, whole-heartedly throwing their support behind it.
Our days in Catterline were mesmerising. The sun shone on our walks: to the lighthouse at Todhead, along the coast to Stonehaven, and daily forays to the puffin ledges just 350 metres from the cottage.
The days were enriched by a visit to artist Kim Canale’s gallery, The Old Ropeworks in Montrose (Kim is a passionate supporter of our project) and to the ‘Watchie’ on Catterline cliffs to renew our friendship with artist Stuart Buchanan – who is the current incumbent of the Watchie, the very studio in which Joan Eardley and Lil Neilson painted.
Inspiration for further drafts of the play and for preliminary characterisation exercises was not difficult to find as we trekked the same paths as Joan: down to the jetty, along to the Watchie, out to the lighthouse, onto the Makin Green and, of course, into the welcoming Creel Inn – where paintings by Joan, Lil and Annette Stephen faithfully hang. The only thing missing: the famous Eardley storms!
The week was ‘crowned’, en route home, with a meeting in Edinburgh with director Muriel Romanes and producer Rebecca Davis from Stellar Quines Theatre Company, who – along with director Marilyn Imrie- have been in ongoing talks with personnel from the Gallery of Modern Art: with the early plans for our play to be launched there in April-May 2016. Such positive preliminary discussions augur well.
The play is in its fourth draft; Marilyn Imrie and Muriel Romanes directors have offered it a workshop in Edinburgh in October of this year. Alexandra is immersing herself in the life of Joan. The project develops day by exciting day!
We are currently fundraising for The Eardley Project