Things of Beauty – John McNaught

I am not a follower of rugby, but the recent Calcutta Cup was the first match I have watched that has had me glued to the telly. Although I am no expert, two things stood out: the artistry of Finn Russell and the fearless deployment of youth, typified by the late appearance of Blair Kinghorn.

L1018701Finn Russell could be seen as the Andrea Pirlo of rugby. His laid-back refusal to fit a stereotype, his ability to produce the unexpected and to create match-winning moments, are shared with the Italian footballing maestro. The way both make it look easy probably masks the amount of hard work to get to that level. Both are risk takers who will sell out stadiums. These kind of ‘maverick’ players are not really trusted by our southern neighbours, and it is interesting that they have both been at their most memorable against England …

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Ultimately, Russell and Pirlo elevate sport to an art form. This is inspirational (especially as Finn always seems to play with a smile), and it must have been a thrilling environment for the young Blair Kinghorn to make his debut.

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Shinty is frequently seen as a physical and aggressive sport. But it is also full of artistry and skill. During the recent Portree screening of ‘Home’, Douglas MacKinnon’s film of Skye’s 1990 Camanachd Cup victory, Willie Cowie’s goal was a thing of beauty and artistry, and must be inspirational for young Skye players to see and to aspire to. The development of these young male and female players by Skye is remarkable, especially considering, like most things in shinty, it is carried out by volunteers. It will be great to see them emerge as artists of the sport.

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With the 2018 season now getting underway, I hope to spend some time photographing the junior teams in action, as well as the ladies and first team.

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Meanwhile I am underway with the second of my prints for Throw Up 20.18. These photographs show a positive transparency being exposed on to a polymer plate. The image is the John MacMahon photo of 1895 referred to in an earlier blog post. A linocut of the players’ names is then inked and printed. Both processes are carried out expertly by Corrina, one of two apprentices currently learning at Highland Print Studio. Youth development in printmaking.

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