Sam MacDonald was born in 1964 on the Isle of Lewis where he lived for a few years before moving to Orkney. He received his BA in Metalwork and 3-D Design from the Camberwell School of Art in London and now lives and works in Perthshire.
Since childhood MacDonald has been fascinated by Scotland’s rivers, rugged coastline, and fishing traditions. He translates the colours, textures and movement of what he sees into unique, contemporary works of art made from pewter, copper, brass and gold leaf using traditional metalwork techniques. “My artistic endeavour is to observe and capture fleeting moments of nature,” he says. “I try to express an emotional response to something very private: a moment
shared between man and nature.”
Capturing a moment in metal also reflects the fish’s ability to stay motionless. “This contrasts with their explosive speed of turn and strike,” the artist says. “They have a pure, aerodynamic form that is engineered for speed. It is hard and glinting – the same attributes as metal.” Using tools that he creates himself for each piece, MacDonald hand-pierces the reliefs in pewter, and then taps in the scales and individual markings and details. The colour of the patination is then achieved with gold leaf and enamel, and finally sealed with hot lacquer or beeswax. This technique suits the underwater palette perfectly and lends an aura of age.
In recent years, MacDonald has undertaken fishing expeditions around the world that have resulted in artworks of even more species, including blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, red snapper, humpback and sperm whales. These are featured alongside his ever-popular depictions of salmon, permit and mackerel. However, his favourite fish remain the aggressive small brown trout from moorland lochs, which match the thrill of having a good bonefish on the line.
2000 Fish, Pier Arts Centre, Stromness
2001 Fish, The Weem Gallery, Pittenweem, Fife
2002 Depth, The Orkney Museum, Kirkwall
2004 Maclaurin Art Gallery, Rozelle House, Ayr
2012 Alexander Meddowes Fine Art Broker, London
2010 With Terrence Lambert, Alexander Meddowes,
2003 Queens Road Gallery, Aberdeen
2003 Stenton Gallery, East Lothian
2005 Stenton Gallery, East Lothain
2006 Stenton Gallery, East Lothian
2010 Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts
2011 David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year
2011 CLA Game Fair Blenheim Palace
2011 The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.
2001 Piers Arts Centre, Stromness
2006 Institute Medical Science, Aberdeen
2008 Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
2009 P&O Azura
Sam is a member of the Redspot Artist Group