July 17, 2011

Roth and Ramberg fight to the finish


July 16 – posted by Terri Roberts

After back to back hat tricks on Thursday and Friday, there we were… mad dash to the end. We still needed two more subjects. And we were running out of time.

Our initial leads went bust early in the morning. Some were out of town, some were camera shy, and some were out on the Loch enjoying the ever moody Scottish weather.

So after some very successful souvenir shopping in Fort Augustus (tea towel anyone?) we decided to head back to Drum. And back to square one.

After a call here and a tweet there, we were on our way again. And by ‘way’ we mean a very narrow, windy mountain road complete with freely roaming sheep. We were headed for a tiny crofting village called Bunloit to meet a potter named Rebekah.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Rebekah’s husband Joss who was minding the shop while Rebekah was out. Before we could hit the collective panic button, Joss assured us she’d be back soon. We decided to head back to town for a bite to eat, but not before we cleaned her out of her beautiful clay creations. Literally.

We went back a couple of hours later and there she was.

Rebekah began making pottery twenty years ago as an apprentice at the Loch Ness Clay Works and she eventually took it over. Today she ships pieces all over the world, to places as far flung as Hawaii.

Originally from Inverness, Rebekah was always fascinated with Nessie. Right up until the infamous Surgeon’s photograph was revealed to be a big fake. Almost instantly, she stopped believing. But that’s not to say she doesn’t believe in things you can’t always explain. Is it Scotland after all, land of faeries and legends and lore so deep it could fill the whole of Loch Ness.

With our rental now full of pots, bowls, plates and mugs (plus an alarming number of empty cheese and onion chip bags and fudge containers) we went in search of another local artist Rebekah had put us in touch with named Rab.

Rab was nothing sort of a genius. His workshop reminded us of something out of Back to the Future. Originally from the Isle of Jura, he met his wife Tanya at university in Aberdeen. Long story short, they fell in love with each other, and then with a very old farmhouse in a tucked away place called Divach. For the record, they are very gracious hosts on little to no notice.

Rab (must be gaelic for half artist, half engineer) makes beautifully crafted ‘sgian dubhs’ (pronounced ‘ skin-doos’) – the traditional little knife kilted-Scots wear in their sock. And there is a huge demand for Rab’s version. In fact, he’s working his way through a year long waiting list.

We asked the lovely couple about the monster and suddenly a hush fell over the house. While they didn’t quite buy in, their six-year-old son Max was a very firm believer. So for Max, we decided not to debate the issue in great detail.

We were fortunate to photograph Rab between downpours. Almost.

After an eight-day tour of Loch Ness, tomorrow we are heading back to Edinburgh on our journey home. If only we could magically exist in two places at once.