Above – another finished painting for the new series of the Isle of Iona for the Limetree Gallery in Bristol.
Below – a couple more in progress..
I’m now back in Edinburgh having realised I’d never get the series finished on time with the weather being so changeable, it was pretty tiring, also some of my paintbrushes and palette knives disintegrated in the damp conditions, I did slightly too!
I’m fairly happy with the one above of sea and rocks at the north end. The rock there is impossibly black, with white barnacles, against impossibly turquoise sea and white sand ..
I spoke to a woman on Iona called Fiona Menzies whose PHD specialised in Ionian geology, so it’s time to get your anorak and cords on now, as I explain how the rocks were made ( or just skip to the paragraph beginning ‘the Colourists if geology bores you).
A billion years ago rocks were formed here from the sediments of seas and lakes ( sedimentary rocks). These were crushed under enormous pressure because of the fault that lies between Mull and Iona in the middle of what’s called The ‘Sound of Iona’ (in my boat painting in the previous post you’re looking across the sound to the Isle of Mull from Bail Mor, Iona’s village).
The fault meant that at one time the land mass of Mull was on top of Iona. This crushed the sedimentary rocks until they metamorphosed or slightly cristalised, which caused what’s known as cleavage- they separated into thin, hard-baked layers.
Finally when the plates shifted again, the rocks were thrust upwards to create the weird shapes you see now.
The landscape, with white caster sugar-like sand, jet black rocks and luminous sea looks fantastical to me – like something from ancient myth. Then you have the silvery soft light which makes everything stand out so intensely, as though you’ve entered a slightly different dimension.
I’m ranting on a bit (joining thousands of others who rant on about Iona) but this is why one painting trip isn’t enough.
The Colourists – Peploe and Cadell – had the right idea; they stayed at a house called Lagandorain on the north end of Iona. As it happens my mum and sister stayed at the hostel there when they came out to visit me for a couple of days and I met the guy who owns Lagandorain now, he’s called John, he designed and built the lovely hostel (with huge window overlooking the north end) and runs it as a hostel during the warmer months then as an artist’s residence during winter.
When he told me there’s also a huge barn where you can make a mess with larger works I got excited (take note, those who create artist retreats with nice clean scandi-style rooms where you’re scared to wear muddy boots never mind splash paint about!) I’ll definitely book a place there this winter – there’s so much more I want to explore arts-wise on Iona.
More paintings to follow soon..