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April IAD2016 - ArtFe Kev Paxton

ArtFe Metal Artist Kev Paxton 

Bill Bull - photo Dave Murray

Bill The Bull by Kev Paxton 

Combining centuries old Blacksmithing techniques with modern methods, Kev Paxton began creating sculptures in his traditional Smiddy 10 years ago and hasn't looked back since. Although primarily he wanted to challenge his own skills, he was motivated by a desire to make us see the world from a more humble viewpoint. He did this by super sizing some of mother natures most lovely creations with his 'Birdseye View' collection of sculptures. Iconic Scottish Thistles tower 4 metres over our heads, giant sunflowers smile down on us and huge majestic lilies are anchored by Ballachulish slate in steel vases. We can not fail to notice or be impressed by both nature and the sculptures themselves. We are drawn to them and they make us smile and this is the intention.

It's not only by super sizing nature that we are encouraged to pay attention, Kev also plays with scale the other way by creating adorable miniature highland cows. Standing at just 3 feet tall these wee beasties caught the eye of officials at the Royal Highland Show, who went on to commission 175 special versions of the cows (the 'Royal Herd') to celebrate 175 years of the show. The wee coos have become a well loved signature piece for Kev's business 'ArtFe'. They gather in wee herds in the Smiddy and have found homes from city gardens to more rural spaces by lochs and glens. Rosie, the first cow, was presented to the highland show patron, Her Majesty the Queen and will shortly be making her journey to one of the smartest homes in the U.K.

A good deal of the larger sculptures are made speculatively, since once Kev forms an idea, there is no turning back. It's unsurprising that many of these sculptures quickly find permanent homes and commissions for related pieces follow on. Kev also enjoys collaborating and interpreting the ideas of his customers and will always encourage people to get involved. It is the intention of ArtFe to not only produce visually stunning sculptures, but to breathe life into each one. You'll find that behind every piece there is a story to tell. Into each sculpture quite literally goes the heart and soul of ArtFe.

Kev and The Ripple Retreat, Loch Venachar

In a more recent turn of events, Kev was introduced to Lynne McNicoll who is the founder of Edinburgh charity 'It's Good 2 Give'. The charity supports young cancer patients and their families at Sick Kids Hospital. Apart from providing practical everyday help, there was also a big dream to raise a million pounds and build a respite holiday home within a reasonable commute to Sick Kids in Edinburgh. The money was raised by the formidable Lynne, even when she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself last year and endured several rounds of chemotherapy. The fundraising continued and the goal was reached. Land was gifted by David Ferguson on the shores of the beautiful loch Venachar. The building was designed by Tony Kettle, architect of the Falkirk Wheel and work began late last year. The building, named The Ripple Retreat, will be a very special place and was only made possible by the generosity of everyone involved. In order to maintain the building, the charity will continue its amazing work. ArtFe has formed a special connection with Lynne McNicoll and her incredible little charity and has already raised several thousand pounds with various projects, including the fabulous Bill The Bull.

Bill lends himself to the Hindu belief that the cow is sacred. Revered for its gentle and giving nature, the cow is honoured in festivals and adorned with brightly coloured garlands and paint. During the Pittenweem Arts Festival, Bill was painted to raise funds for several charities including 'It's Good 2 Give.' Kev offered up what he believed to be a "good enough Bull" to those who felt they could be a "good enough artist". He simply encouraged children (and adults) to pick up a paintbrush and finish what he had started. The result is a beautiful technicolour cow who turns heads wherever he goes.

Bill has since become something of a local celebrity, but we are determined not to allow this to go to his head!


BLS Community contribution to The Ripple Retreat

An annual football match takes place in Lochearnhead the day after the BLS Highland Games. Married men and women take on the singles, competing for the coveted trophies. More importantly funds are raised via the raffle for hundreds of prizes that are generously donated by villagers and businesses all year round. The funds are raised to support community activities like childrens clubs.  A sum of money is always awarded to a nominated charity outwith the local groups.  This year we will be donating that sum to The Ripple Retreat Loch Venachar, Trossachs via Kev Paxton. Anyone can turn up to watch the match, have a burger and beer and buy some raffle tickets. This year the match will be on Sunday 24th July in the Lochearnhead Highland Games field (2.30pm). Amanda Kerr who owns The Lochearnhead Hotel along with chef husband Robert Kerr, is running a half marathon with her friend Tracey Cartwright, to raise money for Bill the Bull's favourite charity. Anyone can sponsor Amanda and Tracey here https://www.sponsorme.co.uk/amandakerr/ripple-retreat-half-marathon.aspx

LETi's BLiSS trail  for "Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016".

LETi is proud to announce that Bill The Bull will appear outside The Lochearnhead Hotel as part of The BLiSS trail for #IAD2016. He will arrive towards the end of April.  He will have to go to Edinburgh for an official appearance at the Royal Highland Show and will hopefully return for the rest of the summer. Keep watching www.robroycountry.com.  We will be launching a second Kev Paxton masterpiece that will help to raise smiles on the A84 along with 10 other fascinating art and architectural installations around our four villages, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St Fillans. #BLiSStrail

For more information on #IAD2016 "Year of Innovation Architecture and Design" Visit Scotland #ScotSprit

Other IAD2016 Stories

March http://robroycountry.com/year-of-innovation-architecture-and-design-2016/134-march-iad2016-constructing-sloc-nan-sitheanach.html

February http://robroycountry.com/year-of-innovation-architecture-and-design-2016/133-february-2016-year-of-innovation-architecture-design.html

January http://robroycountry.com/year-of-innovation-architecture-and-design-2016/133-february-2016-year-of-innovation-architecture-design.html

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