Tag Archives: Arthur’s Seat

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat’ exhibition – new venue

Citadel Bookshop, on Montrose Terrace, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

Paintings from the ‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat’ series will be on exhibition at the Citadel Bookshop, Edinburgh, from now to mid-August (see map below).

I’m really pleased about this as it’s great to have the paintings viewable ‘in the flesh’ as it were – especially as I’ll be away up north for the whole of July, so they wouldn’t otherwise have been on exhibition.

You can see the paintings online Here

And here’s a map showing the location of the Citadel Bookshop ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Citadel is run by poet Alan Spence and his wife Janani and is open 1pm to 5pm Monday to Saturday (closed Sundays). Drop by for a chat (they’re both very friendly!) and enjoy a peruse of their excellent book collection, which includes many rare or unusual poetry editions among an eclectic selection of general literature.

Alan Spence

 

 

 

 

You’ll likely find several books relating to spirituality, meditation and Zen practice since Alan and Janani ran the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre in Edinburgh a while back. (read an interview with Alan  in the Scottish Review of Books Here )

Alan was named Edinburgh’s Makar in 2018 (Makar is the Scots word for learned poet). His work explores Japanese culture and spirituality, including Zen traditions and Haiku poetry. In recognition of this, Alan was recently awarded the Decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Government of Japan). 

I collaborated with Alan and cellist Atzi Muramatsu on the ‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat’ project these last two months. It was a pleasure to work with Alan for the first time – he and Atzi (with whom I’ve collaborated since 2013) brought much creative sensitivity and invention to the project.

I recommend a watch of the 2-minute video below, which features poetry, cello and painting about a frog in Hunter’s Bog on Arthur’s Seat ..

 

‘Frog’ – poetry, music and painting

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Swimming Toad, Hunter’s Bog’ Mixed media on 16 x 13 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018 £250

I found time to edit this two-minute video – ‘Frog’ – featuring poetry and cello music by Alan Spence and Atzi Muramatsu, and my painting – ‘Swimming Frog, Hunter’s Bog’  – (more info below vid) ..

This was part of the launch event of ‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat’, which has been an incredibly rich experience – learning the history of the wells and their significance, collaborating with Alan and Atzi who responded with such artistic sensitivity to the ideas.

And of course the idyllic mid-summer’s night music performance on the summer solstice, at St Anthony’s Chapel on Arthur’s Seat, by the talented and wonderful Dominic Harris and Riley Briggs.

Watch my little vid of the evening here –

It’s a great parting note on which to leave Edinburgh for my up-coming painting trip to the Isle of Iona, where I’ll be painting purely en plein air, as they say, for a month, from a tent. The island is meaningful to me as I’ve been going there since I was 20 (back in the far mists of time!)  so I’ll post on that soon.

Thanks again to everyone involved in this last project, I think it will yield further fruit in future!

A Mid Summer Night’s Eve …

Summer Solstice – what better way to spend the longest day of the year than up on Arthur’s Seat in the sunshine, with friends, family and two of my favourite musicians – Dominic Harris (Dominic Waxing Lyrical) and Riley Briggs (Aberfeldy)

This was part of the ‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat’ project (which ends on Sunday).

Dominic Harris, me, and Riley Briggs

 

(Photo by Kenneth Duffy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We began the evening at my studio with cocktails (invented for this special occasion – Chartreuse, vodka, fresh lime and syrup of Sweet Cicely over crushed ice, titled an ‘Arthur’s Sprite’ by my friend Donald!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dominic and Riley Briggs treated us all to a live acoustic set – which was melodious, full of invention and fun as always. I think this may be one of my favourite gigs – being a bit high on ‘Arthur’s Sprite’ cocktails – music, sunshine, the atmosphere and conviviality.

My camera’s sound was playing up with the wind, but still I think my vid below captures some of the atmosphere…

What a special evening, as Dominic said ‘this isn’t one we’ll forget’. My warm thanks to Dominic and Riley.

Tomorrow afternoon (Sunday 24th) is the last day of the exhibition, so if you’re in Edinburgh drop by for a cup of tea (or glass of wine!). You can view the paintings Here

Private View – Wells of Arthur’s Seat

Saturday’s Private View of Wells of Arthur’s Seat was a wee oasis of healing, arts and magic!

All paintings in the series can be viewed Here . Background ideas of the project Here

I look forward to sharing the poems and music (I’m editing video tomorrow), which I hope will convey the atmosphere created on Saturday –  the sense of calm – of water, flora and fauna, and my delight at the way Atzi Muramatsu and Alan Spence interpreted this.

Photo – Liza Horan http://mediamoxie.com/

Photo – Donald Ferguson

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlight of the evening, for me, was Alan Spence reciting his poem Frog, with Atzi finding sounds on his cello that captured the very essence of water, or the spring of a frog’s legs as it plops into the water!

Alan introduced this frog poem last of all, describing how the Haiku poets (particularly Basho, and Japanese artists) often referenced the frog.

One of my paintings was titled ‘Swimming Frog, Hunter’s Bog’ – an appealing and amusing rhyme for a poet’s ear! As he explained – “Hunter’s Bog meets Basho’s frog – the last line of one of Basho’s poems is sometimes translated as the sound of the water” …

FROG

there’s this wee frog

in hunter’s bog –

furuike ya…

in hunter’s bog

just this

wee frog

kawazu tobikimu…

just this wee frog

mizu no oto

the sound

                    the water

the sound of the water

(Alan Spence June 2018)

 

That really made me smile! The pleasing simplicity and evocation of happiness in nature – especially after all my walks in Hunter’s Bog on Arthur’s Seat this past year.

In the next two weeks I’ll post a video featuring the music, poetry and paintings. (We will also be developing the project in September this year, to show to a bigger audience).

Lastly, my warm thanks to the following …

Atzi and Alan, for inspiration, and love of the arts. Donald, Sabine, mum and Catherine for helping make the event happen, and their support and enthusiasm. David Finnie, for buying my paintings and being such a welcome presence at these events, as are his wife Fiona and daughter Sarah, for such friendly and responsive presence.

Thanks to Scott Terris for bringing flowers, and Liza Horan (owner of Media Moxie) for these lovely words on Facebook –

As the windy rain transmuted to a vibrant sunset, Rose Strang shared a very special collaboration with Atzi on cello and Alan Spence on verses of haiku. The paintings sang of Arthur’s Seat and St. Anthony’s Well within, while the strings bounded high and sunk low, and the colorful haiku captured the rhythm of the place. Congrats and thanks for sharing your spirit and work.

Thanks to all for coming – you’re always welcome!

Also, someone anonymously left these flowers outside the door during the event. Thank you too! How fitting, when the healing rituals of Arthur’s Seat’s wells were sometimes completed with a gift of flowers …

Wells of Arthur’s Seat – 2 more

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Swans on St Margaret’s Loch’. Mixed media on 16×13 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018. £250

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, St Antony’s Chapel II’. Mixed media on 10×10 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018. £180

Two more paintings today, for the Wells of Arthur’s Seat exhibition, which launches this Saturday (all details Here).

I couldn’t resist painting this view of St Margaret’s Loch with swans, having spent the weekend sitting there with friends watching them take off then fly down across the water.

For this second painting of At Anthony’s Chapel I splodged primary colours directly onto the wood, the colours at sunset are so vivid it’s the only way to capture it.

Wells of Arthur’s Seat – complete series

If you have any queries about these paintings, or would like to buy one in advance of the exhibition, contact me at rose.strang@gmail.com. (If paintings are bought prior to exhibition a red-dot sticker to denote ‘sold’ is placed next to the painting, which will then be posted one day after the exhibition ends – 25th June).

Wells of Arthur’s Seat – exhibition/event and open studio days

We’re very much looking forward to the upcoming private view of the exhibition and performance event (details/link below). This is ‘invite only’, as spaces are limited, but you can email me to enquire about spaces at rose.strang@gmail.com

Alan Spence

Atzi Muramatsu

 

 

 

 

 

I’m delighted and honoured to be collaborating with two very talented people on this project; the poet Alan Spence and cellist/composer Atzi Muramatsu. Their reading and performance will premiere at the Private View on the 16th June, but will be viewable on subsequent exhibition days on video (we hope to develop the project further and there may be subsequent live performances).

There are also Open Studio days, where the paintings can be viewed, and a video-showing of the poetry reading and performance of poet Alan Spence and cellist/composer Atzi Muramatsu from the private view event.

For all details on the upcoming exhibition and event, and open studio days, click Here

Alan Spence was named Edinburgh’s Makar in 2016 (Makar is the Scots word for learned poet). His work has, for many years, explored Japanese culture and spirituality including Zen traditions and Haiku poetry. In recognition of this Alan was recently awarded the Decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Government of Japan). This is the first time I’ve collaborated with Alan, and I very much look forward to experiencing the poetry he’ll create for this project.

Atzi Muramatsu has been (amusingly) described as ‘the Scottish Central Belt’s most well-known celllist’, this is not least because he is an avid and dedicated collaborator, with artists, dancers, other musicians and writers across Scotland and beyond. He also writes film-scores and in 2016 was awarded a Scottish BAFTA for Best Composer New Talent. It’s absolutely a pleasure to continue our long-lasting collaboration.

*please note –  as we are not receiving public funding for this project, a performance and project fee is paid to Alan and Atzi from the profits of painting sales. We hope to develop the project further and there may be subsequent public funding, resulting in additional performances and developed professional video of the project.

Read on to find out more on the inspiration behind Wells of Arthur’s Seat …

(detail) ‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Waterfall I’

 

 

 

 

 

 

This series is inspired by the landscape and local history of Arthur’s Seat – the hill in Edinburgh that sits to the south of the city.

The paintings focus on the flora and fauna of the hill in the vivid greens of early summer, but in particular, water. This is rainy Scotland, so water is constant – everywhere on Arthur’s Seat – in springs that tumble down the hill, lochs that form in the valleys, and in its wells.

Some of these wells have been named after saints – St David, St Margaret and St Anthony for example – so at some time in the past they were perceived as sacred.

It’s simple enough to trace their Christian origins, but probably very few of the hundreds of tourists and locals who visit the hill throughout the year will be aware of the purpose of the wells further back in time …

There are hints; in the worn stone basin and cup-chain attached to St Anthony’s Well, which ran dry in the 1980’s but used to seep through the cliffs below the summit, before emerging near the bottom of the hill and flowing towards St Margaret’s Loch.

Just above the loch, on a rocky promontory you can see the medieval ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel – it was built in the 12th century, but the well and its stone basin were there long before.

On the first of May, locals would drink the well-water, walk their livestock through the streams and celebrate the beginning of summer. The first of May continues to be celebrated to this day throughout Europe, but there were other, far more mysterious healing rituals that took place at St Anthony’s Well …

We know about these rituals because of written records from court cases that took place in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Protestant Reformation. For over a hundred years, people who were seen to ‘worship’ at wells might be prosecuted if their words and actions were seen as un-Christian. Yet, while these people may or may not have invoked the Christian god during their healing rituals, their actions showed reverence towards nature – a belief in its healing power and a complete faith that their prayers would be answered, if their well-being was part of nature’s plan.

This was a pan-European belief – that nature held everything in balance, that disease or sickness, or bad crops, represented an imbalance of nature. Therefore healing rituals involved actions believed to restore balance, first by walking sunwise three times around the well (to create a boundary, or safe space) second by dipping a cloth in the well, applying it to the afflicted part of the body, then leaving it near the well, third by offering a token of gratitude such as flowers or a piece of metal ( this is the origin of ‘Clootie’ or rag-wells throughout the British Isles). If successful, the prayer would be heard, the disease absorbed into the earth, water or sky and the token accepted.

Water was seen as a ‘place of in-between’; these days we might say a liminal space (a place of transition – occupying a position at both sides of a threshold) or if religious we might describe it as a place where there is a ‘thin veil between heaven and earth’.

It’s this last intriguing concept that so fascinated me, and inspired this series.  It made perfect sense therefore, to introduce these ideas about Arthur’s Seat to the poet Alan Spence, whose work is often created in response to nature and the changing seasons. For many years his work has explored the Japanese traditions of Zen meditation and Haiku poetry (in recognition of this he was recently awarded the Decoration of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Government of Japan).

He and his wife formerly ran the Sri Chinmoy meditation centre in Edinburgh, and now run a bookshop and meditation centre The Citadel just across the road from my studio in Abbeyhill. The summit of Arthur’s Seat sits directly ahead from the front door of their bookshop (and from the window at the back of my studio).

Alan was intrigued by the project, and was delighted too to collaborate with talented composer and cellist Atzi Muramatsu, a friend with whom I’ve collaborated since 2013 on most of my art projects. It was a given, of course, that I’d invite Atzi to collaborate, and of course his Japanese origins add to the aspects of Japanese culture explored in this project.

The creative fruits from this project  – poetry, music and paintings – will launch at the Private View on the 16th June 2018 (this is invite only as spaces are limited, so please email if you would like to attend). There are also Open Studio days (open to the public – all welcome!)  where the paintings will be on display, and a video showing Alan and Atzi’s performance from the 16th June.

All details of the Private View and Open Days Here

All paintings in the series viewable above (if you have any queries about these paintings, or would like to buy one in advance of the exhibition, contact me at rose.strang@gmail.com)

Note the sizes of the paintings, these are not always clear from images online, so to give an indication I’ve included the photo below ..

Wells of Arthur’s Seat – day 7

Today’s paintings for the Wells of Arthur’s Seat upcoming exhibition and event. All info Here

The two directly above are still in progress, nearly there!

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Waterfall I’ Mixed media on 35 x 18.5 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Stream and Hill I’ Mixed media on 35 x 18.5 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Waterfall II’ Mixed media on 16 x 13 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

‘Wells of Arthur’s Seat, Swimming Toad in Hunter’s Bog’ Mixed media on 16 x 13 inch wood panel. Rose Strang 2018