Archive for February, 2016

On the Easel – Wed 24th Feb 2016

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Baiting the Lines - Work in Progress

This is the first colour lay in of  “Baiting the Lines”, it’s oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches – Work in progress. The scene is from the tiny harbour at Seacliff looking towards the ruins of Tantallon castle.

Background Info

In the nineteenth century, the Firth of Forth and its approaches swarmed with large fish of many kinds, cod, ling, haddock, whiting, plaice, turbot, halibut, skate and much besides. The way to catch most demersal fish, before the start of trawling was by “lining”. Lines were of two types, the “sma’ lines” and the “great lines”. Sma lines were used for the smaller fish, above all haddock and plaice in the Firth. A boat would set to sea at the sma’ lines with five men, each man deploying two lines with 600 hooks spaced 3 1/2 feet apart, 120 yards long.

For the sma’ lines, the burden of baiting fell entirely on the women. They would bait the lines with mussels, a daily task between two tides. The quantities used were immense. At Eyemouth in 1885 38 tons of mussels were needed each year to catch 42 tons of fish. Over 80 million mussels were used yearley in Eyemouth alone, and this was only one of half a dozen comparable sma’ line fleets in the area. The maths is quite staggering, around half a billion mussels, all locally sourced, to bait the sma’ lines each year! Mussels were not eaten by people to any degree; they were too useful for the fishes!

The above information is taken from “The Firth of Forth an Environmental History” by T.C. Smout and Mairi Stewart – a wonderful account of the environmental history of the Firth of Forth.

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On the Easel – Sun 14th Feb 2016

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Seacliff Rest - Work in Progress

Start of a another painting in my new Seacliff series. This is the first colour lay in of  “Seacliff Rest”, it’s oil on canvas, 36 x 24 inches.

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