THE ISLE OF BUTE
The Scottish Madera
Bute (/ˈbjuːt/; also known as the Isle of Bute, Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Bhòid or Eilean Bhòdach) is an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is divided into highland and lowland areas by the Highland Boundary Fault.
Bute is one of the most accessible Scottish islands, just a short 35 minute ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay. You will see splendid Victoriana and art deco-style.
Rothesay is a wonderful seaside resort with palm trees, a promenade a castle in the middle of the town and award winning Victoriana toilets.
Bute has a rich and varied past and is home to ‘Mount Stuart house’ the Jewel in our crown.
For such a compact island, Bute has some extraordinarily varied landscapes. From the lush, fertile and rolling hills of the island's heart to the craggy, heather-covered moorlands of the north and the delightful sandy beaches around the coastline, the island is a haven for walking, cycling, fishing and wildlife.
We love Bute and if you have visited then you will too, if you have not been ‘Doon the Watter’ to Bute then you must make the trip to see our Bute-i-ful Isle.
How to get to Bute
When artist Nicola Jones was invited to Bute for a visit by a friend, she had no idea it would be the start of a love affair with the island.
Having just left university, her visit paved the way for a new chapter in her life:
"As soon as the ferry turned into the bay and I saw the view of the island, I just fell in love with it. I'm originally from the west coast but I just adore this place."
Before long, Nicola had settled into her new life:
"I obviously had to find work, so I decided to set up a shop in Rothesay called The Studio Shop. I only had £1,000 to set it up so I took on the lease, put some of my work on the wall, and that was the start of the adventure."
Nicola was experimenting with her art at the time, and her style became successful very quickly:
"I knew something would come out my experimentation - due largely to the positive feedback I received. The consensus was 'wow! This is really different!' so I just had to run with it to see how far it could go."
The artistic process...
Described as 'representational' Nicola's style is certainly unusual: one that has created much debate among fellow artists. Colourful, fun and unique, her work is digitally hand-drawn, using photographs to ensure that her work retains the integrity of each Bute location.
"I use digital brushes to create the composition and then work with the colour. I like to be accurate, so if there are cars in front of a building that I want to photograph I can be back ten times to capture the detail, just to make sure I've got it all correct...although I do at times bend my own rules and use my artistic licence! The images dictate their final state; the style sits on the view and the view does the rest."
The images, explains Nicola, can take up to four days to create.
"Traditional bias dictates that the computer does all the work but that simply isn't the case. If you look closely at the work you'll see that the curves aren't perfect and the placing of things is quite random. If the computer was doing this it would be flawless."
Nicola's technique evolved from her experiments with drawing and photography. With her training in these disciplines she combined her vision with the tools available on the multimedia platform:
"My first picture was the view of Rothesay harbour from my flat. It was two photos that I wanted to merge as one.
As I couldn't, I drew it on the computer instead."
Whilst Nicola's work is representational, she connects with it on an emotional level:
"My ideal would be to live inside my happy little pictures - I want a house in the country, with a cat and lots of peace and quiet - welcome to my world!"
Nicola has now been working in this style for over 20 years and has created a collection which include landscapes of Bute, Glasgow streetscapes and landscapes, and other parts of Scotland. And her work is as wide-ranging in global appeal, as it is, in subject.
"My youngest customer is three and my oldest is over 90. I think the colours can't help but bring a smile, as they are so vibrant and cheerful. We all have hard lives at times, and I feel it's nice to have pictures where everything is happy and fun."
Another common theme in Nicola's work is the absence of cars and people:
"I show what's there today but without the 'human' goings on. I want to let the landmarks and architecture speak for themselves."
Nicola has achieved this in abundance, and her work can be found throughout Scotland, and has also been used for Rangers Football Club official merchandise, as well as various tourism retail outlets.