My name is Marjory Tait and my business Highland Celtic Art was established in 2016.
I was born and brought up on a croft / hill farm above Drumnadrochit in the 1970s.
There is a large cup stone in one of the fields, now behind my house, and a carved Pictish stone was recovered from the neighbouring farm at Garbeg.
I suppose I was always very aware of the idea of ‘man’ using imagery as a way of communicating. I was certainly drawing from a very early age, and I would be mostly found with paper and a pen sitting in front of the Rayburn constantly drawing.
Thankfully, my parents encouraged my artistic side and I attended Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, then completed a year’s post grad in secondary art and design teaching. After marrying an Orcadian we lived for a short while in Insch, near Aberdeen; the Picardy symbol stone https://canmore.org.uk/site/18294/myreton-farm-picardy-stone was in the field behind the farm cottage and I passed the Maiden Stone https://canmore.org.uk/site/18978/chapel-of-garioch-the-maiden-stone on my way to work every day. I mention this only because although I didn’t deliberately choose to live near Pictish stones I guess they have always been a feature in my life albeit it in a subconscious level.
After returning to the family croft in 2002 I was medically retired out of teaching in 2015 due to ME / burn out. I was encouraged to start drawing again as a therapy. I hadn’t intended starting a business but I started a Facebook page at the same time and it just seemed to evolve and flourish.
Looking back, my mother had bought me several George Bain booklets (a distant relative on her side ) when I was a teenager and I would spend hours looking at the line drawings. I was always fascinated by Celtic Knotwork and absolutely adore Art Nouveau Design so I suppose it seemed to be very natural to me to use both these elements as a basis for my own designs.
Regarding my technique everything is initially drawn up freehand, I don’t use gridwork and I rarely use a ruler. I have to do it this way so I can work through the design. I think the fact the work is done without measurement makes it more fluid and organic. I then either transfer the image to paper to colour or scan it and work on the design digitally. It depends on the end result I want to achieve.
To date, I have over 80 designs that have since ended up on different products: cards, prints, coasters, compact mirrors, ceramic ornaments. I’ve also produced two celtic colouring books and worked on various logo commissions where a celtic design has been part of the brief.
I work from the studio above the garage at my house and I attend the local monthly summer market in the village. Some of my range is available to buy in the shop of Groam House Museum http://groamhouse.org.uk/about in Rosemarkie (well worth a visit for its collection of Pictish carved stones and also for its George Bain collection http://groamhouse.org.uk/project/george-bain-collection focusing on his celtic art instruction manuals). I also have a couple of stockist / gift shops that sell my work. I have a website and Facebook and Instagram pages and I have quite a large following on Facebook – particularly from the USA.
Most of my current sales are online through Etsy where again 50% of sales go to the US. I also use Redbubble and Spoonflower (for print on demand items including wallpaper and material).
This year I will be exhibiting for the first time with an old art school friend at the Alchemist Gallery in Dingwall at the end of November. The exhibition is called Labyrinth and the images I am working on are based on a mixture of animals and knotwork. The work is more illustrative in nature but still maintains the strong celtic design and art nouveau influences that are always the foundations of my work.