For the last month I’ve been sharing a studio with the distinguished artist Stanley Cursiter. This is not on a literal level: He used this space as a young man in the early 20th century while I’m here more than 100 years later in 2018. But there are other parallels. Where he painted the astonishing landscapes of Orkney, I make photographs of them. Where he used oils and canvas, I process my photographs digitally with Photoshop. And where he worked at an easel in this top floor space, I lounge around on a bed with my laptop.
Stanley Cursiter was born in Kirkwall in 1887 and was educated at Kirkwall Grammar School before moving to Edinburgh, where he studied at Edinburgh College of Art. He played an important role in introducing post-impressionism and futurism to Scotland. Cursiter was the first secretary of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland and served as Director of the National Galleries of Scotland from 1930 until 1948 when he returned to Orkney. Stromness was then his home for the rest of his life. Also in 1948, he was appointed the King’s (and later the Queen’s) Painter and Limner for Scotland, a position he held until his death.
The studio today
Since then the studio has been beautifully converted into visitor accommodation. This is the second time I’ve stayed here. Located next to Stromness Harbour, it’s a place of such silence and tranquility that I pick up on even the slightest sound. And then I like to think it’s Stanley working on the above painting, “Linklater and Greig Entering Yesnaby Nous” (1931).