Tag Archives: Aberlady paintings

Project progress …

‘Aberlady. Winter Light’. Mixed media on 13×13 wood panel. Rose Strang 2020.

‘Aberlady Bay. Dusk’. Mixed media on 13×13 wood panel. Rose Strang 2020.

Above, today’s paintings of Aberlady – different moods and ways of painting the landscape.

I mentioned a while back that I’m taking things slower this year. I think I’ve maybe painted too busily these past few years, and it’s time to have a deeper think about the ideas that inspire me. It’s good to have a bit more time to contemplate and let projects grow more organically.

This year I’m working on three large paintings in response to the 7th century pilgrim’s route from the Isle of Iona to the isle of Lindisfarne, via Aberlady on the east coast of Scotland.

I’m collaborating with my partner Adam, who’s creating music and probably paintings too in response to the places and ideas. I’m creating a little video of each place, so eventually there will be a video showing footage of landscapes, music by Adam and paintings by myself.

I want to explore what pilgrimage meant in those days in contrast to now. We often talk about ‘mindfulness’ or the peace of solitude and retreat, but what is it really like to remain in solitude or silence for weeks on end? I know that I found it a challenge when I camped on Iona by myself for twenty one days in 2018. Part of that was physical challenge (slugs crawling up the tent, numerous over-friendly spiders that hitched a lift on my clothing whenever I entered the sleeping compartment, howling winds shaking the tent all night for the best part of twenty one days, also the sound of the Corncrake is really not pleasant to my ear!) but it also shook up my emotions. There were beautiful moments, but you have to be self-contained on such adventures; how you relate to people changes somehow.

My plan is to talk to some modern-day pilgrims; people who’ve immersed themselves in these landscapes of Iona and Lindisfarne in a spiritual or personal search for meaning. One of those people is a family friend called Jamie. Jamie was a monk for many years, he also lived on the Isle of Lindisfarne for a time, serving the community there as part of the Hilda and St Aidan Centre.

He took a deep commitment into his spiritual path, at one stage taking a long-term vow of silence to contemplate and, I suppose, face deeper questions about faith and commitment. (You can view an earlier post in which I interviewed Jamie here: The Healing Island).

I was delighted that Jamie recently commissioned me to paint a large-scale painting of Aberlady for his home. It will be an absolute pleasure to paint. I’ll be posting our interview on this blog later this year and it will be (I hope!) a more close and personal exploration of faith and healing, landscape and solitude.

Taking vows of silence, or seeking solitude in remote places is challenging. Recently I contacted a film producer and artist acquaintance to chat about all these ideas; landscape, creativity, healing, spirituality and pilgrimage past and present … and I’m excited about the results of our email conversation. It looks like this project may expand beyond my little video and three large paintings!

I’ll post more about this soon once a few more details are confirmed…

Aberlady

‘Aberlady 1’. Mixed media on 5×6″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

‘Aberlady 2’. Mixed media on 5×6″ wood. Rose Strang 2020

Above, today’s quick paintings of Aberlady.

I’m experimenting with atmospheric depictions of Aberlady’s coastline for this year’s project which follows the 7th century pilgrim’s journey from Iona to Lindisfarne via Aberlady.

In March I’ll be traveling to Lindisfarne, then Iona in May. The plan is a series of three large paintings which capture the timeless atmosphere of these places. Also a video which I’m in the process of editing, with music composed by Adam Brewster.

There’s loads to be inspired by, but at this stage I’m not sure how I’ll choose to paint these places. The paintings above capture something of the dreamlike nature of Aberlady with its subdued east coast light and long stretches of marram grass covered dunes.

Aberlady coast. Film still, Rose Strang

This part of the coast is a nature reserve and it’s a 30 minute walk to the beach across grassy plains with a multitude of wild birds and occasional deer. Few people take the walk, so even in summer it feels as though you’re on an island. Folks who know how cold the east coast sea can be will hopefully be impressed when I say that Adam and I swam there last summer! However, that’s only because there’s a long stretch of shallow sea bed so it actually feels relatively warm since the sun heats up the water as it passes over long stretches of sun-warmed sand.

I’ve always felt there was a special atmosphere there and recently this was enhanced with the discovery of the remains of an ancient 12th century Carmelite Monastery, hidden away near an ancient yew forest near Luffness Castle.

One corner of the monastery remains intact and as you walk around it there’s a slight shock when you discover the weather-worn sculpture of an ancient knight under a crumbling stone archway (film still below). No-one knows who he might have been. A local V.I.P. perhaps, or an early pilgrim? The sculpture will feature in my video. More on that in coming months …

Aberlady knight. Film still, Rose Strang