Jaclyn Stuart is an Artist living just outside of St Andrews. Originally from Arbroath in Angus, she studied at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, graduating with a BA Honours in Fine Art. Jaclyn now runs Jaclyn Stuart Art which teaches adults and children both privately and in groups including after school art classes – details of which can be found on Jaclyn’s blog and Facebook.
My husband and I decided if we could live anywhere in Scotland it would be St Andrews. Our relationship has a long history with this beautiful place. We used to come here on holidays in the summer, walk on the East Sands and catch a quick kiss in Dean’s Court. St Andrews was where my husband proposed to me, just before midnight, lying on the pier looking up at the night sky.
One of the conditions to moving to St Andrews was that I needed an artistic environment, people to teach art to or some kind of artistic job prospect.
St Andrews is no doubt one of the most beautiful places in Scotland and an inspiration to many an artist and that is what drew us here. However, it’s not the landscape that inspires me, it’s not the beautiful coffee shops, nor the theatre or the restaurants, but what inspires me the most, and what I have grown to love, is the people.
St Andrews has a strange mix of people for such a small town. You do not see this when you are just a visitor but year after year you see the surge of people coming and going like the sea waves.
June time, the students leave for another year, the tourists come and go, the students return and so it continues year in year out. What I love most is the constant people, the people who make the clock tick, the locals, the hidden people, the continual heartbeat of St Andrews.
When I first moved here I had to get keys cut at the key shop on Market Street, there I met John, the Master Cobbler and the first man I painted a portrait of since I arrived. He was so welcoming and chatty; we talked about his family and mine for at least 30 minutes. I found out more about John in that 30 minutes than I know about some of my neighbours. John’s photo and subsequent painting are pictured below.
Another thing I love to do is look for a bargain in the charity shops and if you go to Shelter, on Logies Lane, there you will find a lady who makes me smile every time I see her. I don’t know her name but she has one of the strongest Fife accents I have heard. She shouts from the back of the shop, “ hello darling!” and she has often given a small toy free to my children. She is always cheery and I leave with that smile.
Every week on a Monday and Thursday, there is a man called Andy, who I call the hall man, the keeper of the halls. No one gets in or out without Andy. He opens and closes the Episcopal Church hall on North Castle Street for me to run my art classes. He is super helpful and always has time to ask how I am and helps me with any boxes I am carrying. The courtyard at the church there is so beautiful and well worth a look. Sit down, contemplate or read a book.
Then there is Brian on the buses, Jennifer in the gift shop, the old man who every day without fail can be seen having a cup of tea in Greggs the bakers, Rory Mcleod, the Minister of Holy Trinity Church, and the ladies of Rummage, who always seem to be having a great laugh. I could go on and on. These are the people who inspire me. This is my St Andrews. You can have the most beautiful scenery but if you do not have the people to enjoy it with then it seems a bit of a waste.
I wish I had time to paint them all. I would love to have an exhibition called a portrait of St Andrews. Not the beautiful landscape but of the many people in and around St Andrews who are here all the time. The constant. The faithful. The cogs that make the clock tick.