The first present my wife Sheena gave me, a few weeks after we met, was a copy of Alastair Reid’s poetry anthology Weathering. It came around the world with me, from the siege lines of Sarajevo to the killing fields of Rwanda and Congo and the sunlit promise of Nelson Mandela’s South Africa.
I met him not long afterwards, in a smart cocktail bar in Manhattan. When I told him I was from Wigtownshire he was astonished. “We’re probably related!” he laughed. Alastair was born in the Manse at Whithorn in Wigtownshire. His father (whom he adored) was the parish minister there. My mother was born at the Isle of Whithorn a few years after Alastair, and I grew up in a village nearby. Alastair called Wigtownshire his “Eden”. As a young man he left Scotland without a backward glance, to escape what he saw as the suffocating joylessness of its Presbyterian heritage. But in later life came to delight in what Scotland had become, spending long weeks every spring in Wigtownshire, revelling in the turn of the season there.
A centre of excellence to advance research into how ageing affects cognition, and how mental ability in youth affects health and longevity. CCACE is part of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative funded by the UK Research Councils.
"Fionna has begun working with a scientific team at the University of Edinburgh to produce a series of portraits of research participants in a major study of ageing, and the scientists studying them. Fionna has become fascinated with the Lothian Birth Cohorts 1921 and 1936, two unique groups who sat the same intelligence test at the age of 11 and are now helping scientists understand how the brain ages.
In order to develop the project, Fionna has recently become a University of Edinburgh Knowledge Exchange Fellow, and embarked on a pilot project. To build up an understanding of the research, she has already completed a portrait of Professor Ian Deary (pictured left with Fionna), the scientist who leads the study. Fionna has also begun to draw and paint the Lothian Birth Cohort participants, aged in their 70’s and 90’s. In addition Fionna and Professor Deary are applying for additional funding for Fionna to become the Lothian Birth Cohorts Artist in Residence. If successful they hope to develop a major exhibition of the pieces. There has already been interest from major galleries and from Age UK, who sponsor the Disconnected Mind project on the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.”
Dr Robin Morton
THEY say artists must be prepared to suffer for their work, and Fionna Carlisle walked through fire and crashed into the North Sea to prepare herself for a commission.
The portrait was unveiled in Xania,Crete in Greece in October 2012.It was started in August 2011 and painted over many sessions in Xania during summer and winter. The Greek unveiling was a very happy event with many friends from all over. The painting is now 'home' in London where we await the London unveiling party.
The achievements of renowned scientists Sir Ken and Lady Noreen Murray were celebrated when Fionna's double portrait of them was unveiled in the Raeburn Room by Sir Tim O'Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, in March 2009. Sir Ken is best known for his pioneering work in developing the vaccine against Heptatitis B and as the founder of the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh.