At the time, my partner John and I were living in Glasgow and all our friends were having kids. I'd never wanted them, and so when everyone else seemed to be moving on in that direction, we decided we needed a project and began looking for an old place somewhere rural, but near a village hub, that we could do up as a home with a studio.
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I was working in Cyril Gerber Fine Art gallery at the time, so John would go up to Argyll on Saturday to look for somewhere suitable. We actually found this place for sale in the commercial property section of the Herald newspaper: it was basically a byre which the Forestry Commission had used as a workshop, with half-an-acre of land around it.
John is a structural engineer, so we both designed it. There were only a couple of ways you could have done it to get the maximum use out of the byre. We did up the office first - it's like a Scandinavian boathouse - and that took us six months.
We were camping out while we moved walls, but we did have a place with a shower to stay in while doing the rest of the work. We learned a lot about plumbing and electrics and I did a lot of the woodwork, so it was a useful learning experience. It's taken about six years, and it's comfortable enough now. These days, we live between here and the Glasgow flat.
When you think of Tighnabruaich, you think of seascapes and of looking down the Kyles, but our view is to woodland. It's like Glasgow's Burrell Collection building, which has those big glass windows that look onto the woods. I thought, "I want that," so that is what it has been loosely based on.
The lounge is on two levels so we've used the upper level as a dining room. I wanted it to be open-plan, because I've always lived in a flat and when we had people for dinner, all I could hear were gales of laughter coming from the living room as I cooked and I thought: "I don't want that."
The stone wall in the lounge is the back of the original building and everything else is new. I love sitting looking out the window. In summer especially, if you sit for just an hour, you can see loads of wee voles running past and then in the winter with the fire on and your Sunday papers it's just lovely.
Because this is a double-height house, it's really difficult to get something that doesn't look like a pea in a pod. This lamp was the scale we wanted and it gives a fabulous light. It's by Al Blair, a metalwork craftsman who has a workshop in the Hidden Lane on Glasgow's Argyle Street. He collects surgical equipment and takes it apart. I kept going back and looking at it and thinking: "Would I really regret it if I didn't get it?" and yes, I would have. It is on big wheels which were from a hospital stretcher.
The sheep function as a barrier: they stop people falling off the dining area. They are one of my most precious things - I love them to death. We got them several years ago, from the Innerleithen-based sculptor, Angela Hunter, who was exhibiting at the RGI in Glasgow. She asked me if I would do her a swap. I'm always really nervous about that because you think, "Oh I don't want what you have," but actually I was thinking: "I can't believe she wants something that I've got." So she got a painting and I got a plaster sheep. I liked it so much I went back and got another.
I bought these for John's 50th birthday. They came from Kelvingrove Art Gallery. I wanted everything in the house to be natural: stone, glass or slate. I'm blown away by the fact these fossils have survived, and also by their beauty. These ones are all emerging from the stones that they were found in, so the context of where they were is still there. I particularly like the slices of rock with prehistoric fish in them. You can see the bones and the skin.
This is by Glasgow painter Douglas Thomson, and I've had it for years. It's one of those Marmite things. It's dead funny because people will come in and they just don't mention it, but I love it. It is kind of like an Easter Island head, but the eyes are almost like fire. I've got lots of friends who absolutely love it and others who think that everything in here is lovely, apart from that. That's what you want from art though. I don't want a mushroom-coloured painting.
When Princes Square first opened in Glasgow I had a solo show in one of the shops. I'd just come out of art school. They went bust so I didn't get paid but they allowed me to take some things out of the shop to the value and this is one of the things that I saw. It's by Matthew Hilton who has gone on to do things on a big scale. At the time, we had a Victorian flat and it never really fitted in because it is too modern looking, but I knew exactly where it should go here.
When I first saw these they looked quite old, like something from Easter Island. I bought the male for John for Christmas. I had no idea whether or not it was an ancient thing. Then I went back to the shop and saw that they had the female one and I thought, "Well what are the chances?" Apparently they are made by a French sculptor. I would quite like to draw them some day.