Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Pinkie Maclure

Self-portrait Dreaming of Portavadie

by Pinkie Maclure

Stained Glass Light Box  23” x 27”, recently purchased by the National Museum of Scotland

In the 1960s and 1970s, we used to spend our summers in Portavadie, a wild, remote corner of Argyll, where my grandad had a small cottage on the edge of a shallow, sandy bay known as the Salen - Gaelic for ‘small inlet’. The house had no electricity or running water, but I remember those days as the happiest of my childhood.

In the mid-1970s, the government approved the sale of the surrounding land to a company who built oil-rig platforms. The multi-million-pound project was heavily subsidised by the public purse and Portavadie was destroyed - the Salen had explosives placed in it, transforming it into an enormous, deep gully, a large, concrete workers’ village was built, wide roads were cut through the landscape and a razor wire fence was erected all around my grandad’s cottage.
However, no orders for platforms came and the company soon went bankrupt. Portavadie was left derelict for many years, and my grandad’s cottage was eventually sold to a hotel company for development.

In this image, I am dreaming of Portavadie, before and after the cataclysm, joined by my parents on their honeymoon, my brother birdwatching and the cat from Portavadie farm.

The piece is made with handblown and salvaged glass, which I have sandblasted, engraved, filed, painted and fired.