Author Archives: rosestrang

About rosestrang

Artist, Painter

Margaret Tait – Demarco Archives Exhibition

Photo from INTERIM EDITION: THE MARGARET TAIT POETRY ARCHIVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week I attended the opening of INTERIM EDITION: THE MARGARET TAIT POETRY ARCHIVE, showing at the Demarco Archives exhibition space in Summerhall, Edinburgh.

Curated by Dr Sarah Neely and coordinated by Fernanda Zei (exhibition curator/archivist, Demarco Archive), it’s part of the larger programme  celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet/filmmaker Margaret Tait (info here – https://www.margarettait100.com/ )

Watching her films, I’m most affected by the way she seems almost to focus on the peripheral while capturing the essence of things. It’s visceral in effect but also poetic (she often described her films as ‘film poems’) and evocative. (Links to short films by Tait at the end of this post).

There’s also what I’d describe as faith or belief in the images – her short films aren’t presented or edited in a way that offers explanation, plot or conclusion, which sounds as though it could be either surrealist or documentary-like but is neither, and of course her editing is deliberate. In a poem from ‘Origins and Elements’ she describes the way that filming fed her way of seeing (apologies for blurry image, these are my photos) …

 

 

 

 

It was a creative approach that excluded her from conventional success in many ways, partly  due to her being female in an area led almost exclusively by men in those decades (though she was to some extent part of a circle that included poets such as McDiarmid and Sorley MacLean). Her motivation was purely creative though, and it didn’t matter to her that at times a lack of income meant sleeping in her car (a fact the press focused on at times, to her bemusement).

She resisted labelling of her work, not from any wish to be unique but more from her personal understanding of the nature of her own life and creative reality (text from exhibition) …

Photo from INTERIM EDITION: THE MARGARET TAIT POETRY ARCHIVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opening of the exhibition this week included beautiful poetry readings by actress, singer/song writer and poet Gerda Stevenson, who’d appeared in Tait’s feature-length film Blue Black Permanent. Also brief presentations by exhibition co-ordinator Fernanda Zei, and curator Dr Sarah Nealy.

Dr Sarah Nealy had explored the Tait archive to collate work for the larger centenary celebration of Margaret Tait, and she spoke about the recurring instances of support by Richard Demarco over the years, evidenced in numerous letters  (Richard would have attended and co-presented the opening but is currently abroad).

This letter offers an example of his admiration and support for her work. I’ve no idea if there was follow-up from actor Sean Connery, a supporter of the Demarco Gallery during its early days in the 1960’s. (I include a transcript since my photo is blurry!)…

 

 

 

 

Dear Sean,

I am sending you a very important little brown envelope, containing a personal letter from Margaret Tait, my favourite Scottish poet and filmmaker. You will remember that marvellous book of hers that you bought from the gallery ‘Origins and Elements’.

Margaret Tait wants to make a feature film and she has given me some idea of it and I feel that it could be of great importance, as she says, the film is about the sea, about poetry, about Scotland, about communication and about some people. She wants to you to act in it. She sees you in two different parts. She has also written to Liz MacLennan who knows about her films (she saw them at my summer school showing).

You know already how highly I regard Margaret Tait and her work. She is a classic example of a first class Scot living here and being ignored, with something significant to say to the whole world about Scotland.

Yours

Richard Demarco

Gallery Director

 

As always I recommend a visit to the exhibition in person – it’s rich in material about her life and work –  ideas, poetry, photos and articles. I felt moved by it, and in some small way emboldened – her creative courage is an inspiration.

INTERIM EDITION: THE MARGARET TAIT POETRY ARCHIVE runs from Thursday 8 November to Sunday 6 January 2019 at the Demarco Archives exhibition space at Summerhall.

A few links to Margaret Tait’s films:

One is One – http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/6229

Tailpiece – http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/6233

Biography – https://vimeo.com/240306939

October Tide

‘October Tide. Isle of Iona’. Mixed media on 30×30 ” wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

The last painting for the Limetree Gallery, and the October Iona series, finished today!

I will await my return to Edinburgh to blog more, since each of these posts takes around 2 hours due to slow connection!

The next two days will be holiday time, but I’ll be posting much more about my stay here when I return to Edinburgh on the 5th November, including photos and info on Iona, the hostel, studio space, and about the lovely people (John, Mark, Chris and Maddie) who make this place an oasis for countless people in summer, and for artists throughout winter. It has been absolutely rewarding.

Thank you!

 

October Iona series, day 6

In progress, mixed media on 30×30 inch wood panel

Almost finished with the largest painting (above, 30×30 inches) of the Iona Series, for the up-coming Limetree Gallery exhibitions. All details below …

‘Pisces Moon, Isle of Iona. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

‘Sea Mist, October, Isle of Iona. Mixed media on 10×10 ” wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

‘Ochre Rocks, North Beach, Isle of Iona. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

‘Marram Grass, North Beach in October. Isle of Iona’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

Ifyou’re in Edinburgh this November, drop in to see the Edinburgh Art Fair, where the Limetree Gallery will be exhibiting all five paintings at the top of this post, as part of a group show.

The Edinburgh Art Fair runs from the 23rd to 25th November, all details here ..

http://www.artedinburgh.com/home

On November 29th, The Limetree Gallery, Bristol, launch their Winter Exhibition, which will also include some of my Iona series as part of a group show.

If you’re interested in any of these paintings (above) you can contact the Limetree Gallery through their website, on this link ..

http://www.limetreegallery.com

 

Iona October series – day 5

‘Sea Mist, Isle of Iona. Mixed media on 10×10 ” wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

In progress, mixed media 30×30 inches

A somewhat cloudy and blustery day today, very productive though – two paintings sent off to the Resipole Gallery, the rest of the smaller paintings nearly finished, and the biggest one on its way.

The Resipole exhibition starts on the 9th November, so if you are interested in either of these two works below, you can contact the gallery through their website – http://www.resipolestudios.co.uk

‘Cerulean Sea, October, Isle of Iona’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

‘October Tide, Isle of Iona. Mixed media on 10×10 ” wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

 

A nice sunset this evening, here’s a Highland machine and it’s offspring in the gloaming. (My alternative to Highland Cattle) ..

 

Iona October series in progress, day 4

‘Pisces Moon. Isle of Iona, October’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

Another bright and sunny day, though freezing and windy.

It made me work with extra energy in the studio, just to keep warm. Here they are so far, some in progress ..

 

I’m now happy with ‘Pisces Moon’ (at the top of this post) which has more depth, and something of the weird opalescent colours and mood I saw that evening last week.

I’d heard the full moon was in Pisces and forgot about it. Then about 5:45 after feeling quite agitated I decided to get on my boots and coat and despite the blustery rain, walk down to the north beach, which is just a few minutes walk away from the hostel.

I was immediately soothed and entranced by the way early evening light played on the sea, which seemed to be in a slow motion tumult, lit by diffused, misty pale greens and lavender.

Then I remembered that the moon entered the constellation of Pisces at precisely 5:45, and I suppose this fed in to my wish to create a painting that captures all of that. I always fall short of what I want to achieve, and usually the paintings that really work are those I’m not so invested in, it makes me more free with paint and brushwork – some people prefer a photo-realistic look, I don’t, but anyway, at least I’ve captured a bit of the mood and colour of that evening.

It’s interesting to experience the tides of people here at the hostel too, depending on mood it’s enjoyable, or not!

Being a fairly introverted person at times, I was concerned I’d feel as though I was stuck in the ‘Big Brother’ house with nowhere to run! Not so, thankfully. I’m very happy to have met some folks here..

Such as Mary McCormick, who’s staying for the duration of my time here. Mary’s nomadic life is admirable, I empathise with her wish to travel and experience new places, since I too get restless within a week of being back home, but I know it’s also a challenge to not have the luxury of a permanent base to return to every so often to unwind and do your own thing. Maybe that’s why Mary’s easy to be around, grounded and friendly while quite self contained in a good way.

After painting today, I bumped into Mary at St Columba hotel and we visited St Oran’s. Chapel ( the oldest intact building on the island, 11th cent.) I love those cloud-like shapes in the wall plaster.

 

 

 

 

Also, I really enjoyed meeting fellow travellers Marcus and Mary. Here they are (below) on the hostel communal sofa. Excellent people – Marcus very warm and humorous, Mary also fun and convivial, with the added bonus of a beautiful singing voice – they’re  missed!

On Halloween, or Samhain, the hostel staff plan a get together around the stove in the art studio/byre. I look forward to that.

Iona October series, day 3

I’m making more progress on the new series, and will send two of these paintings to the Resipole Gallery by Tuesday, then hopefully the rest will be finished for the Limetree Gallery by the 3rd Nov.

It was a beautiful day today – calm, bright and still. Everything looks astonishingly crisp with lavender shadows.

I’ve been corresponding by email, while here on Iona, with Chris Jupp, a friend from Edinburgh who plays lute and writes Haiku. We plan to create a couple of booklets combining haiku and paintings.

It’s proving inspirational indeed! I’ve been looking at Agrippa’s books of occult philosophy. Not that I intend to become a witch any time soon – I just find his writing interesting, and it feeds in to seeking to find and paint the magic I see in Iona’s landscape.

After discussing this, Chris sent an excerpt from an essay on painting by Merleau-Ponty titled L’oeil et l’esprit (Eye and Mind) in which he discusses the ways that painters see, or attempt to unveil what they see – which he describes as a magical process in many ways.

I’m also finding that my usual layered approach doesn’t feel so authentic, I’m trying to take myself out the equation when looking, to allow what I’m seeing to reveal itself ( very much in the way described by Ponty) then trying to recreate this freshness of experience through sketching, or later in the studio.

I’m finding that simple line sketches appeal, so I created this line (below) several times, to express the feel of October winds and chaotic energy, then after Chris sent a haiku (below) in response to the paintings so far, I added appropriate colour!

out of cerulean
the painter
dives
in

 

 

 

I’ll be sharing more about our collaboration in future posts …

Iona October series – work in progress 2

More work on the October Iona series, these are for the Resipole Gallery in Acharacle on the west coast of Scotland, and the Limetree Gallery in Bristol.

This is my fourth day on Iona and I’m settling in to something resembling a routine. I’m exploring ways to capture the chaotic energy of October – the feeling that everything is in tumult and change, it’s unsettling or refreshing depending on mood.

I find it’s characterised best in paint by loose brushwork, waves, clouds and birds to suggest wind direction and energy.

So although I’d imagined painting wintry monochrome skies I’m now focussed on the lines and shapes of rocks and waves.

It was a beautiful day today – biting cold north wind and ever-changing light, very bright, with a final blast of icy hail.

Here’s a fragment of writing by Adomnan (monk who lived on Iona in the 7th century) …

‘Calm’

‘Stop bailing now!’

He commanded

In a storm.

‘Be still and pray.’

The holy man

Stood in the prow,

Raising his hands,

And as they began

To understand,

So, slowly,

The storm

Passed away.