The Female Muse

I’m always on the lookout for interesting events and if they’re free then that’s even better so this weekend (after a lovely lunch – food is an essential element of a day out) I returned to Stirling University where I did my MLitt Creative Writing course with my best pal, to attend The Female Muse Artist Talk by David Fagan.


A stunning portrait by Suzanne Enterkin-Grogan of her mother.

The talk was related to the Female Muse Exhibition (12th Jan – 14th Feb at the MacRobert – well worth a visit!) of portraiture by local artists based at Marcelle House in Alloa. Many of the exhibiting artists were present at the talk and were able to add to David’s commentary on their work. To be honest, we’d no idea what to expect from the afternoon but we were blown away by the talent on display.

We’ve been to lots of artist talks and sometimes the artist has struggled to articulate their thoughts on their work. But David’s talk was easily one of the best events we’ve attended as there was no pretentious arty farty jargon and his down-to-earth approach meant we were comfortable asking questions.

The artists had used a diverse range of styles and techniques to capture the essence of their female muse and we left so inspired that we practically ran across campus to the MacRobert (okay, I admit we drove the short distance despite the beautiful campus setting) to see the original art on show.

download (12)I came home desperate to draw and paint again (a hobby I’ve put on hold since concentrating on my writing) and felt motivated by being surrounded by creative people. The following day, I was lucky enough to get another injection of artistic energy when I met up with photographer, Matthew Boyle. And this time I was the female muse!

I was introduced to Matthew by Anne Glennie, our mutual friend, who knew I was keen to have new photos taken that my publisher, ThunderPoint could use to market my book. I’m not photogenic and my default facial expression is crabbit (if I had £1 for every time someone’s said, “Cheer up hen, it might never happen”, I’d be rich by now). I’m also very aware that I’m not the shape and size I’d like to be so I feel quite self-conscious about posing for photos.

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Atmospheric Auchinstarry Quarry


The benefit of makeup, good lighting and a professional photographer!

But I needn’t have worried, after getting to know each other a bit better over a cappuccino and fruit scone (food sneaks into every social scenario which might explain my weight problem!), Matthew made me feel so at ease that I relaxed and he managed to capture a natural expression where I genuinely look happy rather than tense.

I also felt comfortable with the location of the photo shoot as Matthew suggested meeting at Auchinstarry Quarry (an old climbing haunt from his youth) and this is an area where my dad played as a child. When Matthew encouraged me to smile, I imagined my dad’s chest bursting with pride that his daughter needed professional photos to promote herself as a writer, I think that memories of him helped  make the photo session (thanks to Matthew’s skill of course!) work so well.

Do you find that meeting artistic folk fires up your own creativity?