contacted on 03504 281.

IN the 11 years since she left her native Sydney, Jennifer MacLean has

only once experienced homesickness. Not, surprisingly, for the beach 'n'

Loading article content

barbie attractions of Oz but for the tiny hamlet of Butterstone, near

Dunkeld in Perthshire, where she lives with her husband,

singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean, and their two children.

''We spent four months in Australia,'' she recalls. ''Dougie was

working there, and it was a great chance to go back to see my folks.

There I was, surrounded by all my family, when suddenly I realised how

much I was missing Perthshire.''

The Old School and Schoolhouse in Butterstone, which they recently

bought and converted, is more than just home base for Jennifer and

Dougie. From here, they also run Dunkeld Records, recording and

distributing albums, cassettes and CDs of not only Dougie's music but of

an increasing roster of Scottish folk singers and musicians.

''It's a real family business,'' says Jennifer. ''Dougie looks after

the musical side and I do all the rest.'' This includes administration

work, dealing with distributors, publishing, and the 101 other tasks

which major record companies employ huge staffs to manage. Jennifer also

acts as Dougie's agent and recently tour-managed a trip to the USA by a

group of Dunkeld Records artists.

The fact that they chose to set up in an old school -- the one Dougie

went to as a boy -- is not inappropriate: ''It has been, and continues

to be, a learn-as-we-go process,'' says Jennifer, ''but I get great

satisfaction out of seeing something through from an idea to the

finished article.''

If Jennifer's behind-the-scenes role seems part of the less glamorous

end of the music business, there is a side to her work which is much

more visible: her beautiful watercolour paintings which adorn the

sleeves of each of the Dunkeld Records releases.

''When we first started, having just moved up from Norfolk, we were

living in a cottage called Craigie Dhu. Dougie had recorded an album and

we didn't have the money to put it out. He went off on tour and when he

came back my sister had agreed to lend us the money we needed.''

Jennifer's sister had intended buying a new coffee machine for her

restaurant with this money but she had faith in the album.

''While Dougie had been away, I had also done a painting of the

cottage, so we decided to put that on the cover and call the album

Craigie Dhu.''

The gamble paid off. Within six months they had sold enough copies to

enable them to repress the record. ''We were also able to pay back my

sister, of course; but for a long time my family referred to that album

as the coffee machine record.''

Although not a trained artist, Jennifer has exhibited her watercolours

in Brazil, Holland, Germany, and Australia. She began painting seriously

while living in the tiny fishing village of Parepueria in northern

Brazil.

Having graduated from Sydney University with a degree in Fine Arts,

she taught for four years before the typically Australian urge to travel

gripped her. ''I travelled through Peru and Bolivia to Brazil. When I

found this village, it was so beautiful that I decided to settle for a

while.''

She stayed there alone for 10 months and, inspired by the remoteness

of it, began to paint the things around her.

When the time came to move on, she continued her travels in Europe,

visiting Spain and Portugal before finally arriving in England. She took

a job at Norwich Arts Centre, organising workshops and exhibitions, and

there she met Dougie when he came to play a concert.

''I'd only been to Scotland briefly but I'd liked what I'd seen. We

decided that we should settle near Dougie's roots.''

Her liking for her adopted home is obvious from Jennifer's paintings

of the countryside around Butterstone which, apart from their use as

cover art for the records, are popular as prints in their own right.

With two young children to look after as well as a thriving business

to run, when does she get the time to paint?

''I find painting very relaxing, so after 10 at night, when the

children are in bed and the phone has stopped ringing, I'll just sit and

paint, sometimes until three in the morning if the mood takes me.''

Jennifer has several projects to keep her busy these nights, including

the cover for a book of Dougie's songs and a painting for the Loch Ness

Exhibition, for which Dougie has composed the music. ''Obviously I like

having people buy my pictures, but even if they didn't sell, I'd still

paint because I enjoyed it. I've always thought that getting paid for

doing your hobby is the ideal lifestyle, no matter where you choose to

live.''