This is the second shoot in my new Argyll Artists series and it was wonderful to be focusing on photography for a whole evening again. Louise Oppenheimer is a local weaver working near Dunadd in the ancient landscape of the Kilmartin Glen. Louise is hugely influenced by the local landscape and her weaving frequently depicts abstractions of the flat plains which were among the earliest settled parts of Scotland. Here, Louise is shown in her studio in front of one of her beautiful pieces of woven art.
I was helped by my girlfriend Julie, and I really appreciated the help with basic things like holding a flash, but much more the help with spotting the right places and locations to show Louise at her best; two heads are indeed better than one, and it is a great luxury to be able to work this way. One of the instantly arresting things that will strike you on entering Louise’s studio is the incredibly eye-catching bobbins and balls of threads and wools. Louise clearly loves the raw material she works with and we really enjoyed hearing about how the colours mix together in a special way in tapestries, quite differently from in paintings. Look at those gorgeous textures of wool behind Louise here. Julie remarked at this point that a kitten would probably not be the best ingredient to add to the mix!
Here is Louise working at her loom with the warp all in place and some work just beginning. Louise loves to work slowly and to let her ideas emerge organically; it seems painstaking work to me, and I can see why an artist who wants to work and think slowly would be so attracted to this medium.
Visiting Louise is a pleasant experience. She is a lovely hostess, and on reflection about the experience of meeting her, I would say we all laughed a lot. She has a quirky and fun view of the world, and would be a lovely person to simply pass the time of day with just talking about art and life. This picture with her framed pieces on a wall behind her is possibly my favourite. The gentle smile and slightly curious look seem to match my first impressions of Louise very well.
I spoke about the local landscape and how it influences Louise, well despite the threatening skies, we drove out to a spot that reminds me of one of my favourite pieces from her collection. The background always makes me think of an African Savannah, and I was delighted to hear that Louise thinks the same. I love these ones from the Crinan Canal bridges at Bellanoch. I rarely do portraits with a long lens, but I wanted the trees in the background to be squeezed in with Louise in this image so my Sigma 70-200 f2.8 had a rare outing.
Perhaps the best one last:
If you are visiting Argyll and have any time check out Louise’s beautiful studio and her intricate, beautiful weaving.