Cove Park – something new to add to the Scotland for Artists list. A wonderful place near Helensburgh which offers year-around creative residencies.
And which we were lucky enough to get a wee taste of, thanks to my dad having a week-long writing residence there.
So what’s the sketch about this wee neck of the woods? And did we do any sketching?
Cove Park is a centre that offers residencies to artists, writers, film-makers and creatives in general. An inspirational and serene spot where you can start or finish a project in solitude. Or mix with other talented people, break bread and share conversation. There are even a few friendly highland cows at large (hence the gates between the main building and outhouses).
It’s a twenty-minute drive from the town of Helensburgh on the Firth of Clyde, situated towards the bottom of the Rosneath peninsula. This part of Scotland became popular with wealthy Glasgow merchants during the late nineteenth century as the many big houses attest.
So although Stephen and I weren’t on an artist’s residency ourselves, we were lucky to gain a small insight over the two days we stayed.
Being a peninsula, you’re surrounded by water and light. What’s more, because the main building is on higher ground, there’s a stunning vista to inspire your work if that creative well run dry.
We went for a couple of healthy walks, including one by the edge of Loch Long. From there you can see the Cloch lighthouse on the Gourock side which we sketched another time. I couldn’t resist doing an oil pastel sketch from the other side of the water by Loch Long. You also notice the ferries heading to Dunoon from Gourock. I love watching the flash of red hull crossing the firth and may have exaggerated its size on my sketch (see below).
Speaking of Gourock, if you fancy a visit you can jump on a passenger ferry there from the little village of Kilcreggan. A lovely waterfront spot at the tip of Rosneath point which has a great cafe and does a fab breakfast.
Artists are allocated places to stay during their residency. My dad was in a wonderful eco house, resplendent with a grassy, curved roof. With two ensuite bedrooms and a kitchen/living-room, there was plenty of room for us to squeeze in. The view of misty Loch Long each morning set us up each morning and it wasn’t too long before I broke out my new chalk pastels. The eco houses were begging to be sketched with all those greeny-gold, late summer colours. Maybe a painting from this sketch will follow.
I do love the path on the left that meanders off to who knows where. In fact, as much as I love painting with chalk pastels – they’re so simple and transportable – I would like to try a new medium soon. Maybe a water colour beckons.
While we were there we met a number of artists whose practice was varied. There was a young woman specialising in podcasts plus another who creates huge, colourful banners. Participants come to Cove Park from all around the globe.
Although Stephen and I weren’t on an artist’s residency ourselves, we were lucky to gain a small insight over the two days we stayed. Many creatives work out of the main building where there’s space to do so. Plus a library, well-stocked office, kitchen/dining area and break-out areas. You don’t have to be a visual artist to get onto a residency – my dad was there to finish writing a book.
It’s probably best to ask him how he got on. And for a self-proclaimed extrovert like him, it can be a challenge to have so much alone time. Especially since most creatives spending time there are keen to work quietly. Meanwhile, he likes nothing more than working a room.
But this all sounds ideal to me! No distractions apart from beautiful landscapes and those cows. But interraction with other participants from time to time. I immediately jumped on the centre’s website when I reached home and read news on a Scotland/Japan residency. Bearing in mind my time in Japan and how it influenced my art, I’m keen to put in an application.
Looking forward to another Cove Park adventure soon.
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Have you ever taken part on an artist residency? Let me know in the comment section below.