The trilogy of ‘West’, ‘North’ and ‘East’ were painted over two months as the culmination of a year-long project in response to the Isle of Eigg in the Scottish Hebrides, which included collaborations between myself, composer/cellist Atzi Muramatsu and poet JL Williams
West – Singing Sands
West – Singing Sands. Mixed media on 40×40″ wood panel
‘West’ is about imagining an island; what we project onto an island
in our imagination before arriving. The painting could be viewed as an old map, or a faded
painting of a view across the sea. We bring our own and others’ history to a new place.
‘Singing Sands’ refers to the name of the bay on the west coast of the island,
whose sands are said to ‘sing’ when dry (which intrigued me before I first visited Eigg!).
This painting was a very gradual process of building up then scraping back layers of paint, crackle glaze and varnish.
North – Transmigration
North – Transmigration. Mixed media on 40×40″ wood panel
‘North’ is about the reality of nature on a Hebridean island, the toughness,
grittiness of weather and atmosphere – also fear of nature and how
it can feel impersonal. We observe it and wonder if we’re really a
part of it, though of course we are.
The small figure on top of the cliff is Atzi Muramatsu, a composer/cellist who I collaborated with on the project.
Sitting on these cliffs on the north end of the island (as part of a geology tour we joined) he began to compose a piece for string quartet called ‘Gaea Metemphsychosis’.
Metempsychosis is about transmigration of the soul and ‘Gaea’ of course means earth.
His piece was about fossils in these cliffs, formed 47 million years ago, slipping into the sea, also being there in a moment of time and the fact that we too eventually become part of the landscape again.
This is a very free-style painting, the basic composition was over-laid with washes and splashes of salt, glaze and paint to build atmosphere, before finally adding the figure.
East – Harbour
East – Harbour. Mixed media on 40×40″ wood panel
‘East’ is a view of the harbour bay from the island, looking out to
sea. There is the sense of a haven, which has a lot to
do with people met there, but also the fact of physically having being on
most parts of the island. You find your place, then leaving to
return to the mainland brings mixed feelings. Islands can seem an oasis from
a troubled world, which is no doubt why religious or spiritual centres are often
founded on islands.
The painting process was in itself very peaceful; simple layering of colours and glazes, allowing drips to form, then adding the small boat.
After the exhibition launch I’ll be sure to post videos/photos of JL Williams and Atzi Muramatsu’s performances, which I’m really looking forward to seeing next Thursday!