Edinburgh Come All Ye

Above: Edinburgh Come all Ye, a book of poems by Alan Spence.

This book of poems by Alan Spence celebrates Scotland, Scottishness and the events of 2017- 2021, during which Alan Spence was appointed Edinburgh’s Makar. Each of the poems is accompanied by artworks by some of Scotland’s best known artists, and I’m honoured indeed to have my painting Wells of Arthur’s Seat, St Anthony’s Chapel from St Margaret’s Loch included in the book and as front cover!

Artists included are – Victoria Crowe, Alison Watt, David Williams, Calum Colvin, Doug Cocker, Andrew Archer and Joyce Gunn Cairns.

‘Makar’ is the title given to a learned and established poet who’s been invited officially to represent their country or city. Alan Spence was a great choice for the role from 2017 to 2021. His poems celebrate Scotland, but he is also influenced by Japanese literature and often writes in Haiku form. He’s also a lovely human being and great fun! He and his wife Janani opened their book shop and meditation centre in 2017 and I’d often drop in for a chat and to buy a book. In 2018 I invited Alan and Atzi Muramatsu to collaborate on a project that explores the history, flora and fauna of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. It’s a hill rich in history and pre-history and my interest was in the wells that are dotted around the hill.

Alan’s beautfuul poem Wellwater which features in this book, is in the form of a wish, prayer or invocation. I was delighted by it as it captured the very essence of the project – the fact that since pre-history ordinary people believed that St Antony’s Well had healing properties. As Alan expresses in his poem ‘it’s free, it’s for everyone’. We might question the healing properties the well may have had, but in fact the water did have a high iron content (and who knows what effect their faith in its power may have had?)

The book is available to buy on the links below, and an event to launch the book takes place on the 7th September at 7pm at the Scottish Poetry Library. Alan will give a talk as part of the book launch and is sure to be as engaging as always with characteristic sensitvity and wit! It really is a delight to be a part of this book and I very much look forward to reading it.

Book launch – Edinburgh Come Al Ye, Alan Spence

Buy book at Scotland Street Press – https://www.scotlandstreetpress.com/product/edinburgh-come-all-ye

Buy book at Poetry Books – https://www.poetrybooks.co.uk/products/edinburgh-come-all-ye-by-adam-spence-pre-order

Coast

Above, Sanna Bay 2. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 47×47 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022. One of four works still available at The Resipole Gallery (please contact the gallery for queries).

Thank you to the buyers who bought the following paintings, I hope they bring pleasure for many years to come! This has absolutely been one of my favourite series to paint, created while I was up north in Ardnamurchan with my partner Adam in May this year, it was such a beautiful time…

The following paintings are still available from the Resipole, please contact the gallery with any queries. Thank you – Resipole Gallery

And for those who might not have seen it yet, our arrangement of a beautiful song first created by songwriter Donald McColl (from Acharacle, Ardnamurchan) in the 1970s. The video features wonderful footage of Ardamurchan from our trip there this year, and some paintings in progress.

Summer Exhibition

The new Summer Exhibition group show at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol launches on Friday 15th July and continues until August 31st. (Preview Thursday 14th July 6:30 to 8:30pm.

The Limetree link above shows all paintings on exhibition including beautiful work by Peter Wileman FROI RSMA FRSA, David Smith RSW and Lucy McKie ROI

The two works I’m featuring in the exhibition  …

Summer Exhibition Limetree

Above: Sanna Bay, May. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 19.5 by 19.5 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022. Below Primroses. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 19.5×19.5″ canvas. Rose Strang 2022

min 'Primroses, Ardnamurchan'. Oil on 19.5x19.5 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022

These two paintings are for the upcoming Summer Exhibition at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, which launches on the 15th July and continues until August 31st.

They take inspiration from my recent trip to Ardnamurchan where I created a series of works for Coast – a two-artist exhibition at the Resipole Gallery in Ardnamurchan (link Here)

It’s interesting that these two new paintings look more distilled and dreamlike than the rest of the series, which must be to do with them being created later, not immediately following my trip there. The one subject I hadn’t painted was the beautiful primroses that decorate the banks of the Silver Walk near Castle Tioram. I love the way they emerge from dark crevices in May, looking so delicate and fresh – beautiful wild flowers that grow abundantly on the west coast.

Donald McColl sang about the landscape of Ardnamurchan (and primroses!) in his beautiful song ‘Nach Falbh thu air and Turas Leam?’, and here’s our arrangement of the song again, featuring footage of Ardnamurchan and some of the painting process …

(Exhibition of the two paintings above from 15th July to 31st August at the Limetree Gallery Bristol.)

Connections

Above, chatting to people at the opening of ‘Coast’, at The Resipole Gallery a few days ago. The exhibition features paintings by myself, painter Jim Wright and ceramics artist Helen Michie, until 22nd July.

This has a been a very special year for many reasons – I’ve loved painting this series of Ardnamurchan for the Resipole and felt fully immersed in the season of May and June there, exploring the Silver Walk near Castle Tioram and the stunning coast at Sanna Bay.

As mentioned in a previous post, I created a video featuring our new arrangement of a song about Ardnamurchan, originally written by songwriter Donald McColl, so I was delighted when the project featured in an artcle in the National, here it is! –

https://www.thenational.scot/news/20203905.landscape-artist-rose-strang-unearths-rare-scottish-gaelic-gem/

The exhibition launch on Sunday 12th was a pleasure to attend. It’s a four-hour drive to Ardnamurchan but worth every minute for what turned out to be a very enjoyable meeting with the other artists, Jim Wright and Helen Michie, as well as gallery owner Andrew Sinclair and gallery manager Kerrie Robinson.

They did a fantastic job of presenting the exhibition, I think the colours, themes and mood of the works compliment each other beautifully …

It was lovely to hear the music of the McColl family (from a CD collection of pieces) played alongside our recent song arrangement, but especially enjoyable to hear live music from fellow exhibitor Jim Wright, who not only paints beautifully but also sings folk songs and plays guitar, all adding to the convivial atmosphere!

 

 

The best thing about this year though, is this! …

Adam and I got engaged! It’s a very special ring; the stone is taken from a rock I found on the Isle of Iona about thirty years ago. It’s from a rare seam of white marble streaked with green serpentine that’s found on the south coast of the island – the same stone was used for the alter of Iona Abbey.

Adam asked if he could take a small piece from my rock to use for the ring, which he’d designed and had cast in white gold. He polished up the rough cast ring, sawed the tiny piece off the rock, then buffed it down to fit, before sealing the stone in the encricling metal and giving the stone a final burnish.

To say I’m happy is an understatement. I think all those summery whites and greens in my Ardnamurchan paintings are saying something about the way I feel about it all … from the heart and soul.

Video project – a Scottish Gaelic song …

Here it is at last! As mentioned in my previous blogs, I’ve been working with two  talented musicians (my partner Adam Brewster and friend Donald Ferguson) and a translator (Ceit Langhorne) on a Scottish Gaelic song about beautiful Ardnamurchan.

It’s called ‘Nach Falbh thu air an Turas Leam’, which means ‘Won’t you go on a Journey with Me?’. Translation below the video. Hope you enjoy it!

 

The song was written by Donald McColl of Ardnamurchan (1901 – 1978) in 1975. It was re-recorded and arranged by Adam Brewster, Donald Ferguson and myself with kind permission of the McColl family and also thanks to the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh, where I first discovered the song. (Link Here – ‘Nach Falbh thu air an Turas Leam’ )

Without the help of Scottish translator and singer Ceit Langhorne there’s absolutely no way I could have sang the song – it was quite the learning curve, but so rewarding, and fun to work with Ceit!

It was wonderful to hear the sensitive and beautiful arrangement by Adam (harp) and Donald (guitar) taking shape. Adam also produced the song recording, which (despite my voice wavering here and there) sounds so lyrical.

Scottish Gaelic lyrics below, with English translation below each verse …

‘Nach Falbh thu air an Turas Leam.’

By Donald McColl- Ath Tharachail (1901-1977).

Translation and Transcription by Ceit Langhorne.

 

Sèist: Nach falbh thu air an turas leam

Gu Rubha Àird nam Murchan?

Far am bi na h-eòin cho basganta

A’ seinn sa bharraich uaine.

Nach falbh thu air an turas leam?

 

Chorus: Won’t you come with me on a journey

To the Point of Ardnamurchan

Where the birds so melodiously

Sing on the tops of the verdant birches

Won’t you come with me on a journey?

 

Bu mhiann leam a bhith nam fhòrichean

Air madainn òg-mhìos driùichdach 

Na h- eòin air gleus sa chamhanaich

A’ seinn le blàs san ùr-choill’

Nach falbh thu air an turas leam?

 

I would greatly desire to be alone

On a dewy June morning early

The birds with their reeds tuned on the branches in the gloaming

Singing a song with a fresh voice in the blooming forest

 

Nach bòidheach bheus de bhruaichean

Is beus an duilleach fuasgailt’

S’an t-seòbhrach bhan bhuidh’ spèisealta

A’sgeadachadh gach bruachaig

Nach falbh thu air an turas leam?

 

Lovely is the demeanour of the banks

When the leaf is unfurling

And the exceptional dapper-white primrose

Decorating every bank.

 

Na mhòrraichean tha rùnaichean

Le neòinean cùbhraidh fionn-dearg

Is leat-ghaoth tinn (?) na h-oiteagan

Le’m bholtrachas gad ionnsaigh

Nach falbh thu air an turas leam?

 

The marvels of the land that are beloved (?)

The fragrant sweet pale-pink daisies

The (?) wind and the breezes

Fragrantly coming towards you

 

Far am bi na fèidh s’ na fireachan

Cho ionmhalta a’ gluasad

Tha a’ dìon na coilltean taitneach

Nuair a thig an gailleann cruaidh orr’ 

Nach falbh thu air an turas leam?

 

Where the deer on the rough moorland

So admirable, praiseworthy moving

Making for the pleasant burns for shelter

When the tempest comes upon them

Nach Falbh thu air an Turas Leam

 

Gu Rubha Àird nam Murchan?

Far am bi na h-eòin cho basganta

A’ seinn sa bharraich uaine.

Nach falbh thu air an turas leam?

 

Ardnamurchan complete series

Above – Pine Trees, Silver Walk. Ardnamurchan. Acrylic and oil on 47×47″ canvas. Rose Strang 2022

This last painting completes the series for the upcoming exhibition at the Resipole Gallery, launching 12th June this year.

These give an idea of scale …

All paintings in the series below.

By Monday I’ll hopefully be posting progress on the video I’m editing, it’ll be a busy weekend!

Ardnamurchan series day 4

Above – Sanna Bay 2. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 47×47″ canvas. Rose Strang 2022

A serendipitous painting today – I started sketching in the composition lightly in paint and decided I liked the tranquil simplicity of it. I might add a tiny bit of detail to the clump or rock and seaweed on the left but happily I think I’ve captured something of the luminous stillness of Sanna Bay.

I’ve never painted at this size (47 by 47 inches – about 4 by 4 feet) but it felt quite free-ing surprisingly. I have one more painting to complete at this larger size then all seven will be finished.

This series is for the Resipole Gallery in Ardnamurchan. The exhibition (a two-person exhibition with artist Jim Wright) launches on Sunday June 12th.

Yesterday I mentioned the song I’m learning by Donald McColl. His family have kindly granted permission for me to record the song and I’m now learning the Scottish Gaelic lyrics phonetically, with a lot of help from Ceit Langhorne who’s a Scottish Gaelic translator and singer who I first met on the isle of Eigg in 2014 at a ceilidh.

I remember asking Ceit if she knew any songs of the sea which she did, so I recorded it under a beautiful full moon on Eigg. Here’s my post from the time! –

Gaelic song on Eigg by Ceit Langhorne

I hope to record the song soon and will post that here when it’s finished.

Ardnamurchan series day 3

Above – Birches, Silver Walk. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 31×31 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022

Below – Tioram, Silver Walk. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 31×31 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022

2 Tioram, Silver Walk. Ardnamurchan

Two more paintings for the series of Ardnamurchan, which I’m creating for the Resipole Gallery. Exhibition launches 12th June this year. I’ll be travelling up from Edinburgh for the launch so if you’re planning to drop in I’ll be there to say hello!

I’m also working on recording a song, discovered in the the archives of the School of Scottish Studies. It’s by a singer and songwriter called Donald McColl and it’s about the flora and fauna of Ardnamurchan. I’ll be adding it to a video I’m also making about the series.

More on all of that soon!

Resipole Series day two

Above – Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan. Oil on 34 by 24 inch wood. Rose Strang 2022.

Below – Sand Dunes, Sanna Bay. Ardnamurchan. Oil on 30 by 30 inch canvas. Rose Strang 2022

Sand Dunes, Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan

Two more paintings today. The subtle greens and whites of the sand and sea at Sanna Bay, and the dunes as you approach Sanna Bay with a beautiful early summer blue sky on the horizon.

These paintings are a new series for an exhibition at the Resipole Gallery launching 12th June this year.