THE ART OF THE WILD
From veteran gamekeeper to one of Scotland’s finest up-and-coming artists, Michael Batey is a man of many parts,
Gamekeeping and fine art may not be the easiest of bedfellows, but after a career spanning 40 years working in the hills and glens of Dumfries and Galloway, Michael Batey has finally swapped his shotgun for a paintbrush. Inspiration for dramatic landscapes to portray is never in short supply for a man who has spent the last four decades in the great outdoors. ‘My early work was very bright and colourful, much of it inspired by Turner,’ says Batey. ‘But working outdoors you experience stormy skies and wild seas. I can see the rain coming in over the Solway Firth, it’s all there in my head.’
Batey was a keen painter at school and didn’t escape the notice of his art teacher, who was ‘disappointed’ that he left school aged 16, choosing his love of the great outdoors over the chance to go to art college. But despite a talent that shone from an early age, Batey still considers himself the ‘new kid on the block’ when it comes to the world of art.
In 2006, a forestry accident left Batey with a badly broken leg and, mainly confined to barracks, he rediscovered his old art box and started to paint. Encouraged by a friend to exhibit his work, his first solo exhibition was at the now closed Cumbria Sculpture Valley. This was followed in 2014 by an exhibition at Dumfries and Galloway’s Spring Fling art weekend. ‘I pretty much sold everything on the first day,’ he says. ‘I was really overwhelmed by it.’
Since then Batey’s art career has really taken off and he has sold his paintings to buyers all over the world.
His success and recent commissions have helped Batey make the decision to become a full-time artist. ‘I’m privileged to have had the career I’ve had,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t create these works if I hadn’t had the opportunity to work outdoors and see what I’ve seen.’