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Caithness art show enjoys a brush with Royalty as Prince Charles is surprise exhibitor

Prince Charles at the Thurso art exhibition, with Ian Pearson chairman of the Society of Caithness Artists (Robert MacDonald/Northern Studios)
Prince Charles at the Thurso art exhibition, with Ian Pearson chairman of the Society of Caithness Artists (Robert MacDonald/Northern Studios)

IT IS a local art show showcasing the work of talented, but mainly amateur, artists.

But amid the oil and watercolours depicting the stunning mountains and coastlines of the north-west Highlands, the Caithness Artists Exhibition boasts a couple of works by a much better-known figure.

Because eagle-eyed visitors will see that entries 326 and 327 are by one HRH Duke of Rothesay.

The original watercolours, painted while Prince Charles was on holiday in Caithness last year, are on display at the exhibition in Thurso High School.

Both paintings get their first public outings and are listed in the catalogue but, unlike most of the pieces, are “not for sale”.

The first – “Abandoned Croft on the Island of Stroma, Caithness” – reflects familiar territory for the painting prince.

He can see Stroma – from the Old Norse, meaning “island in the stream” – from his bedroom window at the Castle of Mey, the former home of the late Queen Mother, where he was on holiday last week.

It’s the third haunting landscape he has completed of the island abandoned by its people in 1962.

The second painting – “Kilphedir Pool on the River Helmsdale, Sutherland” – is also inspired by a location familiar to the prince.

Prince Charles’s watercolour of Kilphedir Pool on the River Helmsdale (Robert MacDonald/Northern Studios)

 

Charles is a fan of the salmon-rich Helmsdale and the pool is a long-time favourite fishing spot.

The prince visited the exhibition last week, when a painting of Glen Affric – the estate owned by Pippa Middleton’s father-in-law – caught his eye. It brought back memories of outward-bound expeditions from his time studying at Gordonstoun.

Ian Pearson, chairman of the Caithness Artists, said: “He said it reminded him of when he was at school and he was trying to pinpoint exactly where it was.

“He was relaxed and spent about 45 minutes at our exhibition. He didn’t go much for the abstracts. I think he is a very traditional painter and it was the landscapes which attracted him.”

Prince Charles was following in the footsteps of the Queen Mother, who was a regular patron of the exhibition.

He maintained an old tradition by attending the Mey Highland Games, an event his grandmother never missed, yesterday.

The art show had 357 exhibits, 54 more than last year, with 42 paintings sold at the preview night, realising a record £6000 for the society.

The dearest, painted by Ian Scott, a professor of art in New York, whose mother and brother live in Wick, went for more than £1000.

Another of his paintings is still for sale at £3500.

The exhibition runs until Saturday.