Waking up to find your house is on fire is one of those nightmares that we all hope we never have to live through - but it happened to Justin Ruthven-Tyers (picture) and his wife Linda when they were living in an ancient cottage on the edge of Exmoor back in 1992. The house was 'upside down' with the bedrooms on the ground floor and the living accommodation upstairs and Justin describes waking to a strange roaring noise, then reaching up to feel the ceiling above his head hot to the touch before making a hasty exit. Within minutes, the building was a blazing inferno. Despite having no practical experience of building or woodwork, Justin decided to rebuild it himself, and having done so, kind of caught a building bug which for some obscure reason resulted in a decision to construct a gaffer, a fifteen ton traditional wooden sailing boat. Designed by their friend marine architect John Hesp, the project took three years to complete and was a great success.
The magnificent vessel, named 'Caol Ila', after their favourite whisky, became Justin and Lindaâ€™s home for the next seven years during which they were to visit the island for the Classic Malts Cruise in 2001, an event featured in the Ileach at the time. Hopefully 'Caol Ila' will shortly be moving to a permanent mooring here because the couple have now moved to the island, overlooking the Sound of Islay. Linda is working as a health visitor at Islay hospital and Justin has been working on a series of distillery related artworks, drawings in black and white using pencil, powder and stick. Inspired by the sea and classic sailing images, many of his works feature old wood, rope, canvas, water and stone, conjuring up images of times past and often referring to wrecks and other scenes of maritime dereliction. His work has been featured in various galleries in Cornwall as well as in Lochgilphead and at Islay Studios in Bruichladdich. He hopes to widen his exposure on the island soon and produce commercially available prints. Check out www.justintyers.co.uk
Bunnahabhain Distillery by Justin Ruthven-Tyers