Monthly Archives: February 2023

The Times – review of ‘The Living Mountain’ exhibition

(Above: Among Elementals. The Living Mountain Series. Oil on 60x42cm wood. Rose Strang 2020.)

“A stunning series of images – a symphony of subtle essences, distilled experiences, fleeting memory fragments and deep, heart-felt lingering impressions.” *****

Giles Sutherland, the Times, 21st February 2023

It was an absolute delight to read Giles Sutherland’s sensitive, insightful review (link below) in The Times today. Not simply the understanding of intention and inspiration behind the paintings, but because it so succinctly gets to the core of why Nan Shepherd’s beautiful book The Living Mountain inspires artists and creative thinkers everywhere, especially in our contemporary times.

Here’s a link to the article (if you can’t access the article the text is copied in full below):

Rose Strang Review – Symphony of Subtle Essences and Impressions

Visual Art: Giles Sutherland

Rose Strang

The Living Mountain – Dreaming a Response

Scottish Poetry Library


Until 31 March


Not that long ago, in the mid 80s, in response to a question from a brave, young, female north American student, my Scottish literature lecturer opined that the reason there were no women writers on the syllabus was there that there were ‘no Scottish women writers of substance’.

How shocking that such nonsense was then so deeply imbedded in academe. The hapless lecturer had clearly not heard of Nan Shepherd, born in 1893, a native of Deeside and contemporary of literary luminaries such as Neil Gunn, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Marion Angus, Helen B. Cruickshank, and Agnes Mure Mackenzie.

Shepherd – whose literary ability was at least equal to that of her male peers – is currently undergoing a reappraisal and revival, supported by such talents as the writer Robert Macfarlane, and the artist Rose Strang. Strang’s paintings, which form the basis of this show, were commissioned to illustrate a new edition of Shepherd’s classic of nature writing, The Living Mountain, first published in 1977.

Following in Shepherd’s footsteps, Strang travelled to the Cairngorms, to places such as Càrn Bàn Mòr. Her journey provided inspiration for a series of nine oil paintings, inspired by the mountains’ genus loci and the fluid poeticism of Shepherd’s prose.

The result is a stunning series of images – a symphony of subtle essences, distilled experiences, fleeting memory fragments and deep, heart-felt lingering impressions.

Strang’s painting makes us ask deep questions about what painting is, how it functions and gives us answers to its ultimate purpose. Like Shepherd’s words, and indeed the Cairngorms themselves, these paintings work slowly, generatively taking hold of our senses and our imagination, striking deeply at our core or, if you like, our souls.

‘One cannot know the rivers till one has seen them in their sources but this journey…is not to be undertaken lightly. One walks among elementals and elementals are not governable…’ wrote Shepherd in the first chapter.

Strang’s ‘Among elementals’ deals with the idea of seeking the source of things, for like Gunn, Shepherd’s thinking was infused with the power of symbolism, so important in Eastern and Celtic culture. Here, as in the other paintings, there is a sense of wonder and the fragility of the human presence among the mountains’ deep geological time.

A wonderful film by Strang, with atmospheric music by Atzi Muramatsu, provides yet another accompaniment to Strang’s imagery and Shepherd’s words.

See this small but perfectly formed show if you can.

*The exhibition runs at the Heriot Gallery, Edinburgh, 17-23 April.

Video premiere: The Living Mountain

(Above, from left to right: Anna Fleming, Kerri Andrews, Erlend Clouston, Merryn Glover, Rose Strang, at The Scottish Poetry Library).

I’m very excited to share a new video (link below), created in response to my recent exhibition The Living Mountain. Dreaming a Response, which is currently showing at The Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh until the 31st March. If you don’t get a chance to see the paintings at the Scottish Poetry Library, the  exhibition continues at The Heriot Gallery, Dundas Street, Edinburgh from 17th to 23rd April 2023.

The video showed at the Scottish Poetry Library as part of a launch event of the exhibition and as part of an evening celebrating what would have been Nan Shepherd‘s 130th birthday (author of The Living Mountain)

It features really beautiful music by my friend (and collaborator on many projects since 2013) Atzi Muramatsu. I knew Atzi would respond to the themes with talent and sensitivity but I was deeply moved by his interpretation. Listening to it for the first time was a ‘hairs-standing-on-end’ thrill for me! I won’t go on too much, but do have a watch and listen. A heartfelt thank you to Atzi.

There was a wonderful buzz at the event, which completely sold out (Nan Shepherd being a popular subject these days). Much of the talk included speculation on why such a gifted author only published her non-fiction work The Living Mountain in her later years. I’m very grateful to Aly Barr and all at the Scottish Poetry Library for including me in the event. They were fantastic people to work with – humorous and calm throughout!

Three authors, Merryn Glover, Kerri Andrews and Anna Fleming, shared moving excerpts from their new books. Then, literary executor of Nan Shepherd’s estate (and lifelong friend of Nan) Erlend Clouston, gave a characteristically fascinating and humorous talk about Nan, followed by a general discussion and Q+A from the audience. There wasn’t enough time for all the many ideas and experiences to be shared.

Thankfully amongst all the excitement I remembered to buy all three books, all of which, from their unique perspectives, delve into the fascinating life and inspiration of Nan Shepherd:


The Hidden Fires, by Merryn Glover

Wanderers – A History of Women Walking, by Kerri Andrews

Time on Rock, by Anna Fleming

And here’s a link to Erlend Clouston talking about Nan as part of Simone Kenyon’s project called Into the Mountain – Erlend on Nan

The exhibition at the Scottish Poetry Library also includes a display of some of Nan’s letters and first drafts of poems. (My personal favourite was ‘Achiltibuie’ because it’s a jewel-like poem, capturing the incredible landscape of Achiltibuie – a place quite dear to my heart).

Thank you to everyone who attended the events at the Scottish Poetry Library. Thank you of course to my partner Adam Brewster who was there being supportive and creative throughout this project (which was two years in the making!) and for the stunning photos of the Cairngorms which feature in the video above. And again thanks to the Scottish Poetry Library for making the event so special and exciting. I think it’s wonderful how inspiration leads to many new inspirations, ever blossoming. It was just great to meet everyone there and share our love of The Living Mountain. Here’s to many more such events in future!

The Living Mountain. Dreaming a Response continues at the Scottish Poetry Library until 31st March, then goes on exhibition for one week at the Heriot Gallery, Dundas Street, Edinburgh from 17th to 23rd April.


Exhibition article

Just four days now to the exhibition launch of The Living Mountain. Dreaming a Response, at The Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

The panel discussion on the 17th February has now sold out, but the exhibition continues until the 31st March, before going on exhibition at The Heriot Gallery Dundas Street, Edinburgh. All details Here

The National have just published an article about the exhibition and talk, which you can view here – Nan Shepherd: Exhibition to mark 130th birthday of famed Scottish environmentalist

Happy 130th Birthday Nan Shepherd!

Author of The Living Mountain, Nan Shepherd, was born on the 11th February 1893. To celebrate her birthday, the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, has organised an exhibition and panel discussion, all details below …

The Living Mountain. Dreaming a Response

The Living Mountain. Dreaming a Response showcases new paintings by Rose Strang and goes on exhibition at the Scottish Poetry Library, and the Heriot Gallery, Edinburgh, in February then April 2023.

A response to one of Scotland’s best-loved classics of landscape literature, this series of paintings was commissioned by the Folio Society London for their 2021 publication of The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd.

Robert MacFarlane, award-winning author of best-selling books The Lost Words and The Wild Places and one of the UK’s best-known devotees of The Living Mountain, writes in the introduction to this Folio publication of the book:

Strang’s paintings are intensely dynamic, seethingly alive with stroke, dab, scratch and drip. Each of Strang’s seven paintings takes a phrase from The Living Mountain and dreams a response to it.

16th February 3 to 5pm. Exhibition Preview (free). Scottish Poetry Library

7pm, 17th February: Panel discussion (ticketed, 310, see link below) Scottish Poetry Library  and audience Q+A with Erlend Clouston (Nan Shepherd’s literary executor, Rose Strang, Merryn Glover (author of A House Called Askival, currently writing a book inspired by Nan Shepherd) and Kerri Andrews (author of A History of Women Walking, currently editing a volume of Nan’s letters). Chaired by Anna Fleming (author of Time on Rock).

Book your ticket here …


The Scottish Poetry Library, Crichton Close, Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

The Living Mountain. Dreaming a Response

17th to 23rd April. The Heriot Gallery, Dundas Street, Edinburgh. The Living Mountain. Dreaming a Response (in collaboration with The Limetree Gallery, Bristol).*

Exhibition of the original paintings commissioned by the Folio Society for their 2021 publication of The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd.

*The series of paintings will be for sale and exclusively available from the Heriot Gallery during the one-week exhibition.

(Please contact the Heriot Gallery with any enquiries about the exhibition.


The Heriot Gallery, 20A Dundas Street, Edinburgh