Tag Archives: atzi muramatsu

A Response to ‘The Last Battle’.

On the right is a photo of (from left) Dr Charles Stephens, Atzi Muramatsu, Adam Brewster and me, after our event on Saturday yesterday in association with the exhibition ‘The Planets. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis’ for which Adam, Charles and Atzi responded to C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle with an animation, a reading and a cello performance. (Links below).




Saturday is of course associated with Saturn, and the corresponding book in the Narniad, influenced by Saturn, is The Last Battle.

Here are the performances (thanks to Adam Brewster for videos) …

Animation by Adam Brewster (BAFTA nominated for best animation in 2010) in response to themes of the exhibition (2 minutes):

Cello performance by Atzi Muramatsu (who won a BAFTA for best new composer in 2016) in response to ‘The Last Battle’: (10 minutes, starts 0:20)

Dr. Charles Stephens reads ‘Night Falls on Narnia’ – an excerpt from ‘The Last Battle’, by C.S. Lewis.

The exhibition ended today and the launch last Thursday was a great success thanks to Dr Michael Ward’s fascinating talk about the Medieval cosmos and its influence on C.S. Lewis, explored in his book Planet Narnia.

As ‘The Last Battle’ describes the end of Narnia, it is a moving and at times ominous book – the seventh in the series. After the animation, reading and music performance yesterday, I asked viewers to contemplate the numbers seven and eight – eight being the symbol of infinity. I’d also been thinking of the following beautiful poem by C.S. Lewis:  What the Bird Said Early in the Year

Warm thanks again to Michael Ward, Adam Brewster, Atzi Muramatsu, Dr Charles Stephens, who so movingly read the excerpt – ‘Night Falls on Narnia’ – from  ‘The Last Battle’. (excerpt below) … Also Richard Demarco and Terry Anne Newman for hosting the events at the Demarco Galleries, and lastly thanks again to Fernanda Zei for her excellent curation of the exhibition and talk.

Here’s hoping we can develop the exhibition and related performances for a future exhibition and event!

Night Falls on Narnia, from The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis

They all stood beside Aslan, on his right side, and looked through the open doorway.

The bonfire had gone out. On the earth all was blackness: in fact you could not have told that you were looking into a wood, if you had not seen where the dark shapes of the trees ended and the stars began. But when Aslan had roared yet again, out on their left they saw another black shape. That is, they saw another patch where there were no stars: and the patch rose up higher and higher and became the shape of a man, the hugest of all giants. They all knew Narnia well enough to work out where he must be standing. He must be on the high moorlands that stretch away to the North beyond the River Shribble. Then Jill and Eustace remembered how once long ago, in the deep caves beneath those moors, they had seen a great giant asleep and been told that his name was Father Time, and that he would wake on the day the world ended.

“Yes,” said Aslan, though they had not spoken. “While he lay dreaming his name was Time. Now that he is awake he will have a new one.”

Then the great giant raised a horn to his mouth. They could see this by the change of the black shape he made against the stars. After that—quite a bit later, because sound travels so slowly—they heard the sound of the horn: high and terrible, yet of a strange, deadly beauty.

Immediately the sky became full of shooting stars. Even one shooting star is a fine thing to see; but these were dozens, and then scores, and then hundreds, till it was like silver rain: and it went on and on. And when it had gone on for some while, one or two of them began to think that there was another dark shape against the sky as well as the giant’s. It was in a different place, right overhead, up in the very roof of the sky as you might call it. “Perhaps it is a cloud,” thought Edmund. At any rate, there were no stars there: just blackness. But all around, the downpour of stars went on. And then the starless patch began to grow, spreading further and further out from the centre of the sky. And presently a quarter of the whole sky was black, and then a half, and at last the rain of shooting stars was going on only low down near the horizon.

With a thrill of wonder (and there was some terror in it too) they all suddenly realized what was happening. The spreading blackness was not a cloud at all: it was simply emptiness. The black part of the sky was the part in which there were no stars left. All the stars were falling: Aslan had called them home.

The last few seconds before the rain of stars had quite ended were very exciting. Stars began falling all round them. But stars in that world are not the great flaming globes they are in ours. They are people (Edmund and Lucy had once met one). So now they found showers of glittering people, all with long hair like burning silver and spears like white-hot metal, rushing down to them out of the black air, swifter than falling stones. They made a hissing noise as they landed and burnt the grass. And all these stars glided past them and stood somewhere behind, a little to the right.

This was a great advantage, because otherwise, now that there were no stars in the sky, everything would have been completely dark and you could have seen nothing. As it was, the crowd of stars behind them cast a fierce, white light over their shoulders. They could see mile upon mile of Narnian woods spread out before them, looking as if they were flood-lit. Every bush and almost every blade of grass had its black shadow behind it. The edge of every leaf stood out so sharp that you’d think you could cut your finger on it.

On the grass before them lay their own shadows. But the great thing was Aslan’s shadow. It streamed away to their left, enormous and very terrible. And all this was under a sky that would now be starless for ever.

The light from behind them (and a little to their right) was so strong that it lit up even the slopes of the Northern Moors. Something was moving there. Enormous animals were crawling and sliding down into Narnia: great dragons and giant lizards and featherless birds with wings like bat’s wings. They disappeared into the woods and for a few minutes there was silence. Then there came—at first from very far off—sounds of wailing and then, from every direction, a rustling and a pattering and a sound of wings. It came nearer and nearer. Soon one could distinguish the scamper of little feet from the padding of big paws, and the clack-clack of light little hoofs from the thunder of great ones. And then one could see thousands of pairs of eyes gleaming. And at last, out of the shadow of the trees, racing up the hill for dear life, by thousands and by millions, came all kinds of creatures—Talking Beasts, Dwarfs, Satyrs, Fauns, Giants, Calormenes, men from Archenland, Monopods, and strange unearthly things from the remote islands or the unknown Western lands. And all these ran up to the doorway where Aslan stood.

This part of the adventure was the only one which seemed rather like a dream at the time and rather hard to remember properly afterwards. Especially, one couldn’t say how long it had taken. Sometimes it seemed to have lasted only a few minutes, but at others it felt as if it might have gone on for years. Obviously, unless either the Door had grown very much larger or the creatures had suddenly grown as small as gnats, a crowd like that couldn’t ever have tried to get through it. But no one thought about that sort of thing at the time.

The creatures came rushing on, their eyes brighter and brighter as they drew nearer and nearer to the standing Stars. But as they came right up to Aslan one or other of two things happened to each of them. They all looked straight in his face; I don’t think they had any choice about that. And when some looked, the expression of their faces changed terribly—it was fear and hatred: except that, on the faces of Talking Beasts, the fear and hatred lasted only for a fraction of a second. You could see that they suddenly ceased to be Talking Beasts. They were just ordinary animals. And all the creatures who looked at Aslan in that way swerved to their right, his left, and disappeared into his huge black shadow, which (as you have heard) streamed away to the left of the doorway. The children never saw them again. I don’t know what became of them. But the others looked in the face of Aslan and loved him, though some of them were very frightened at the same time. And all these came in at the Door, in on Aslan’s right. There were some queer specimens among them. Eustace even recognised one of those very Dwarfs who had helped to shoot the Horses. But he had no time to wonder about that sort of thing (and anyway it was no business of his) for a great joy put everything else out of his head. Among the happy creatures who now came crowding round Tirian and his friends were all those whom they had thought dead. There was Roonwit the Centaur and Jewel the Unicorn, and the good Boar and the good Bear and Farsight the Eagle, and the dear Dogs and the Horses, and Poggin the Dwarf.

“Further in and higher up!” cried Roonwit and thundered away in a gallop to the West. And though they did not understand him, the words somehow set them tingling all over. The Boar grunted at them cheerfully. The Bear was just going to mutter that he still didn’t understand, when he caught sight of the fruit trees behind them. He waddled to those trees as fast as he could and there, no doubt, found something he understood very well. But the Dogs remained, wagging their tails and Poggin remained, shaking hands with everyone and grinning all over his honest face. And Jewel leaned his snowy white head over the King’s shoulder and the King whispered in Jewel’s ear. Then everyone turned his attention again to what could be seen through the Doorway.

The Dragons and Giant Lizards now had Narnia to themselves. They went to and fro tearing up the trees by the roots and crunching them up as if they were sticks of rhubarb. Minute by minute the forests disappeared. The whole country became bare and you could see all sorts of things about its shape—all the little humps and hollows—which you had never noticed before. The grass died. Soon Tirian found that he was looking at a world of bare rock and earth. You could hardly believe that anything had ever lived there. The monsters themselves grew old and lay down and died. Their flesh shrivelled up and the bones appeared: soon they were only huge skeletons that lay here and there on the dead rock, looking as if they had died thousands of years ago. For a long time everything was still.

At last something white—long, level line of whiteness that gleamed in the light of the standing stars—came moving towards them from the eastern end of the world. A widespread noise broke the silence: first a murmur, then a rumble, then a roar. And now they could see what it was that was coming, and how fast it came. It was a foaming wall of water. The sea was rising. In that treeless world you could see it very well. You could see all the rivers getting wider and the lakes getting larger, and separate lakes joining into one, and valleys turning into new lakes, and hills turning into islands, and then those islands vanishing. And the high moors to their left and the higher mountains to their right crumbled and slipped down with a roar and a splash into the mounting water; and the water came swirling up to the very threshold of the Doorway (but never passed it) so that the foam splashed about Aslan’s forefeet. All now was level water from where they stood to where the water met the sky.

And out there it began to grow light. A streak of dreary and disastrous dawn spread along the horizon, and widened and grew brighter, till in the end they hardly noticed the light of the stars who stood behind them. At last the sun came up. When it did, the Lord Digory and the Lady Polly looked at one another and gave a little nod: those two, in a different world, had once seen a dying sun, and so they knew at once that this sun also was dying. It was three times—twenty times—as big as it ought to be, and very dark red. As its rays fell upon the great Time-giant, he turned red too: and in the reflection of that sun the whole waste of shoreless waters looked like blood.

Then the Moon came up, quite in her wrong position, very close to the sun, and she also looked red. And at the sight of her the sun began shooting out great flames, like whiskers or snakes of crimson fire, towards her. It is as if he were an octopus trying to draw her to himself in his tentacles. And perhaps he did draw her. At any rate she came to him, slowly at first, but then more and more quickly, till at last his long flames licked round her and the two ran together and became one huge ball like a burning coal. Great lumps of fire came dropping out of it into the sea and clouds of steam rose up.

Then Aslan said, “Now make an end.”

The giant threw his horn into the sea. Then he stretched out one arm—very black it looked, and thousands of miles long—across the sky till his hand reached the Sun. He took the Sun and squeezed it in his hand as you would squeeze an orange. And instantly there was total darkness.

Everyone except Aslan jumped back from the ice-cold air which now blew through the Doorway. Its edges were already covered with icicles.

“Peter, High King of Narnia,” said Aslan. “Shut the Door.”

Peter, shivering with cold, leaned out into the darkness and pulled the Door to. It scraped over ice as he pulled it. Then, rather clumsily (for even in that moment his hands had gone numb and blue) he took out a golden key and locked it.

They had seen strange things enough through that Doonvay. But it was stranger than any of them to look round and find themselves in warm daylight, the blue sky above them, flowers at their feet, and laughter in Aslan’s eyes.

He turned swiftly round, crouched lower, lashed himself with his tail and shot away like a golden arrow.

“Come further in! Come further up!” he shouted over his shoulder. But who could keep up with him at that pace? They set out walking westward to follow him.

“So,” said Peter, “Night falls on Narnia. What, Lucy! You’re not crying? With Aslan ahead, and all of us here?”

“Don’t try to stop me, Peter,” said Lucy, “I am sure Aslan would not. I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia. Think of all that lies dead and frozen behind that door.”

“Yes and I did hope,” said Jill, “that it might go on for ever. I knew our world couldn’t. I did think Narnia might.”

“I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die.”

“Sirs,” said Tirian. “The ladies do well to weep. See I do so myself. I have seen my mother’s death. What world but Narnia have I ever known? It were no virtue, but great discourtesy, if we did not mourn.”

‘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!

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” …


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 …

Interview with Atzi Muramatsu, Cellist/Composer










It’s just a week away from my upcoming Hebridean trip and collaboration with author and poet Louise Palfreyman and cellist/composer Atzi Muramatsu. I’ll be travelling with Louise, then post-Hebrides we’ll be collaborating with Atzi (hopefully all of us returning to the Hebrides early next year if funds/time allow).


Lipsync for a Lullaby

I’ve known Atzi for about 10 years, having met him on various occasions at a variety of venues, concerts and arts events where he performed as a composer and cellist in a variety of genres, from contemporary classical, to performances as part of string quartet Lipsync for a Lullaby and on film scores including The Violinist and The Making of Longbird. I’ve been lucky to work with him on several projects since 2013.

As mentioned a few weeks ago I’m featuring an interview with both of these talented, lovely people in my blog, which started with Louise Palfreyman (interview Here) and Atzi Muramatsu today…

Rose: Hi Atzi and thanks for doing this interview. I’ve known you for quite a few years and was always intrigued by your approach as a musician. Your work crosses genres from classical to contemporary but also you work a lot in collaboration with various artists and artforms from dance to film, theatre and art.

Can you tell me a bit about your background, where you were born and grew up, why you decided to study music and move to the UK?

Atzi: I was born in Japan and grew up there mostly. I tagged along with my father who was transferred to London for his work in 2000. I was simply bored of living in conservative Japan where I felt openness and individuality were not appreciated. I spent a couple of years in London before I came to Scotland to study something unrelated to music. I have always played music, mainly fronting bands. But it was not until a later stage that I picked up a cello and started writing music in broader terms. I was lucky that the music professors and post graduate students at Edinburgh University’s music department saw potential and recommended me to study composition.

R: I’ve observed that a strong classical music training can sometimes produce musicians who work only within that tradition; it can be restrictive perhaps to creativity, or appreciation of other genres. Can you talk a bit about the different music forms you work with, and what inspired you to do stray across the usual musical boundaries?

A: I’m not a classically trained musician. As most things I do in life I taught myself to play, 13872730_10153627765561990_659229452562438133_nread and write music. It was a very natural progression as a musician playing in bands getting more interested in contemporary classical music. What many classical musicians suffer is the fear of making the simplest mistake and therefore failing an audition. It’s really a Pavlovian classical conditioning of fear. But I also know a lot of classically trained professional players who are most wonderful improvisers and creative geniuses.

R: Recently you won the Best Composer Award at the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards for your work on a short film ‘The Violinist’. I was delighted for you and think it’s very much deserved, because as well as your being talented I know how hard you work. How did it feel to receive the award? Was there a sense of your efforts being recognised at last?!

A: Yes most13882216_10153627759936990_6330063843030683022_n certainly. It’s the accumulation of work you do that leads to things like this. Not just writing for films, but all the playing and collaboration with many artists as that lead to things like an award. Every little thing you’ve done in the past builds your confidence and projection. Having said that, a nomination and a win was a bit of a surprise. I thank the people involved in making the film and putting the £30 entry fee on my behalf. I didn’t even think of submitting the film for the award until prompted.

R: How would you describe the collaborative process? What do you enjoy about it or find inspiring?

10525933_10153036822325555_1424638312654243402_nA: It’s that sheer euphoric moment when something sparkles in your brain and all of a sudden everything gets very exciting, new, and challenging. It’s hard to get the same stimulus when you’re working on your own.

R: One of your pieces that I first became interested in was ‘Five seconds left’, it spoke to me about the feeling of journeys, though that was my subjective response of course. You generously let me attach it to a video I’d made of slow-motion waves from a ferry (link below). Can you talk about that, the inspiration and why you chose that title?

Link: Five Seconds Left

A: The music was an experiment I did long time ago when I was teaching myself some theory. I wrote this piece in 5/8 timing, and the key is constantly shifting so that it makes a full round of circle of fifths. The music is nostalgic, and it seems it goes on repeating forever. But that’s the illusion, thus the title. It does come to an end.

R: In 2013 we began to loosely collaborate when you improvised on cello in response to my paintings as part of an exhibition launch. I’m a strong believer in improvisatory and experimental approaches, it keeps the creative process fresh, but it takes someone experienced to make it work as a successful performance or artwork; a final work in itself. I’ve watched you improvise on many occasions and you always appear very comfortable with improvised performance for the public. Can you tell me more about your approach to that? For example, talk me through your improvised response to one of my paintings – ‘Moonlight on Eigg’ (which I recorded on a small camera at the time, link below). I find it an absolutely beautiful piece and was very moved by it.

A: A couple of weeks ago I saw this Brian Cox interview where he’s asked by a schoolgirl how he manages his time playing music and working out physics. I don’t think anyone in that TV show really understood what he meant, but his response sums up what I do. Music and physics are both simply a human response to the environment. I am simply channeling what I see and feel into my playing. There is no right or wrong. I might play something that sounds horrible, but it doesn’t matter because I’m merely a vessel to transpose the environment into sounds. It’s really up to the people who are hearing the music to decide what’s working and what’s not. In that sense, yes I am very comfortable. I’m not being judged on anything here

R: In September 2015 we visited the Isle of Eigg as part of a year-long project about Eigg. It was a stroke of luck that our trip coincided with a boat tour of a ship called ‘The Leader’ which was cruising around the inner Hebrides  and Eigg, with geologists, writers artists and musicians on board. (The trip re-created the journey made by geologist Hugh Miller who discovered the bones of a Plesiosaurus on the north coast of Eigg in the summer of 1844).

I remember we joined in on a day-trip to the cliffs at the north end of the island with geologist Prof’ John Hudson and poet Norman Bisset among others. We stopped at the foot of the cliffs where you began to write your piece for string quartet ‘Gaia Metempsychosis’ (link below, work in progress) Can you talk me through that – what you were thinking or feeling as you sat beneath the cliffs, and the ideas behind the piece?


A: Oh yes that was an inspiring trip. I have this fascination with death and decay, like most artists do. It’s a mirror image of life and prosperity. Darker the room, brighter the flame. Anyhow, I saw the ancient rocks finally melting in the sea in front of me. The history died. That was an inspiration. That feeling contrasted being on the island where a lot of people living there are expats who chose a self-sustainable alternative life. So I began writing the sketches of what became the string quartet piece, where there is a lot of death that is also celebratory. I did imagine skeleton bones in an underworld ball room while I sat there.


_mg_7671R: On our return to Edinburgh you worked with Jennifer (poet J.L. Williams) on a poetry and music collaboration in response to the paintings and themes of the Eigg project, which was performed live at the Scottish Storytelling Centre against the backdrop of my paintings (The ‘Eigg Trilogy’). I named one painting ‘North –Transmigration’ based on the ideas you’d discussed, which echoed what I wanted to capture in the painting – the passing of time, or the way we distill time through art and the creative process. Jennifer’s poem in response was also very moving, and I was struck by the intensity of the combined works. As you know, this collaboration is a real highlight for me, among many years of working in collaboration with artists. Can you tell me more about how you and Jen worked on that, and the process, particularly for ‘North – Transmigration’?

Link -North Transmigration

A: We sat and recorded the music and poetry live in her living room. It had to be spontaneous, and I wanted to respond to both the paintings and her readings. There are a lot of elements I picked on from both the reading and the painting; tempo, velocity, volume, brightness, associated memory, etc etc. They all morphed into this one thing which I was, again, a vessel to make them into sound.

R: Lastly, I’ve focused mostly here on our collaborations, but would you like to talk about what you’d like to do in future musically? Also, you’ve composed a series of successful pieces for film, can you give an example or two of your favourite film music scores by yourself and by other composers?

A: Currently I am working with a real-time music sampling artist Dave House (a.k.a. The Reverse Engineer). We are an experimental electro-pop duo with a gig coming up. We are both enjoying the process very much as we both venture out from our comfort zones. I’m mainly singing and dancing in this.

I really like what Jonny Greenwood does in PT Anderson films. He’s a serious scholar in contemporary music but following rather traditional composers like Olivier Messiaen. Often film directors are scared of putting on music that have too much emotional drive to it, so working with a director who understands your artistry is a gift. I’m not sure if I actually like any music that I’ve ever written. I rather have other people be the judge, so that I can free myself from that constraint. I am most self-critical of my work and it’s frankly an annoying trait.

R: I think self criticism is true of any artist, I know there’s usually a point when I’m painting where I wail – ‘I can’t paint’! If we’re doing it right it’s probably necessary. There was an interview with David Bowie a few years ago where he laughingly but honestly described the process as quite painful, we get angry and frustrated with ourselves. In your case Atzi, I’d say it’s worth the pain, or at least I know there’s plenty of people who appreciate the results! And I’d like to say – that sparkle you talk of (in answers above) when collaborating, is mutual. Thanks for taking time for this Atzi, and I look forward to working with you again later this year.

More Links…


‘Eigg Island’ launch event and performances

Jennifer L Williams perfoming 'West', 'North' and 'East'

Jennifer L Williams and Atzi Muramatsu performing ‘West’, ‘North’ and ‘East’ (Photography Eleni Laparidou)

The exhibition of Eigg Island launched at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Thursday evening last week. It was a great success, with 60 or more people attending and much positive feedback about the performances and artworks. You can view all the artworks Here.

I was as always very moved by the poetry and music performances of JL Williams and Atzi Muramatsu. Atzi Muramatsu also performed his piece for string quartet, Gaia Metempsychosis which took its inspiration from the fossil filled cliffs at the North end of Eigg.

These works were created as part of our on-going collaboration inspired by Eigg Island, and the 6 minute video (below) brings together paintings, music and poetry created for the project

Photos of the launch (below), were taken by Photographer Eleni Laparidou  (EL Photography)

This is a link to the video of the Eigg Island launch event courtesy of Summerhall TV, an arts channel dedicated to promoting the arts in Scotland.

Thanks again, to everyone who took part in the launch event!


North; transmigration

'North'. Mixed media on 40x40" redwood panel

‘North’. Mixed media on 40×40″ redwood panel

Happy days. I love it when work and ideas merge together into new forms.

The above painting is North, second in the series of three paintings for the upcoming Eigg Island exhibition. It was inspired by  a day in September on the last visit to Eigg, on the geology trail with geologist Prof’ John Hudson, who showed us fragments of bone from a Pliosaurus (estimated to have lived about 147 million years ago).

We sat underneath the fossil-filled cliffs on the north end of the island and ate lunch whileP1140952 Atzi Muramatsu began (unbeknownst to me!) to write a music piece which became ‘Gaea Metempsychosis’; a piece for string quartet, which will be performed at the exhibition launch.

It occurred to me after a day of painting the final touches of North that it would make perfect sense to add Atzi (the musician I’m collaborating with alongside poet JL Willams for the exhibition) on the cliff. Once painted I gave him a quick call to make sure he didn’t feel a bit ‘Dorian Gray’ or superstitious about it, but he thought it was a great idea as long as it worked for the painting!

P1200137‘Metempsychosis’ is a Greek word meaning transmigration of the soul – or its reincarnation after death, ‘Gaea’ meaning of course – the earth. So the inspiration of fossils, and of being on the island in a particular moment in time, yet feeling the sense of our own infinity – and that, like fossils, we become part of the landscape once more, was the inspiration behind Atzi’s music.

North’s place in the trilogy of paintings, is to represent the idea of the reality of being on a Hebridean island, after imagining what that experience will be like, because to me there’s always a time when you feel not a part of the landscape, you’re not sure of your place in this wildness of sea and cliffs, although of course we are a part of it.

I have a piece of marble that I collected from the Isle of Iona (the beautiful small island off the coast of Mull on the west coast of Scotland). It represents the idea of ‘Gaea Metempsychosis’ exactly to me. Iona was the first place where, in my early twenties I felt a powerful connection to nature – I felt my place in the cycle of everything.

The piece of marble in the photo to the right is formed  by the minerals of  tiny sea creatures P1200138from millions of years ago, their remains crushed by the weight of  rocks and ocean over time into dense, heavy white marble. You can see seams of serpentine – a silicate formed by algae and water that ran into cracks and faults of the marble.

It’s so beautiful, and it’s from a very rare seam of marble on the south side of the island that’s pretty difficult to find for newcomers. Islanders mined it about 100 years ago to form the alter in Iona Abbey, but to me it’s is best experienced on those south cliffs of Iona, looking out over a wild blue sea.

It’s quite difficult to express how rewarding collaboration is; when ideas connect – also the way that nature inspires and makes meaning of our lives. I felt very similarly about the recent Lindisfarne collaboration with poet JL Williams – view video here – When you write to the light..

Performances at Whitespace exhibition preview

PAINT flyer FLYER 2 REVERSE P1130119






Postcards for the Whitespace exhibition. (don’t forget! – Preview 6-9pm 18th July!)

With just 16 days to finish four large works I’m slightly fretting! But with painting you can only take each day as it comes.

Performances for Whitespace

I’m very happy that two Edinburgh friends will be performing for the Whitespace exhibition preview on the 18th – Atzi Muramatsu and Jennifer Williams



Jennifer is originally from New Jersey, she’s currently Programme Manager for the Scottish Poetry Library but for many years has been a writer, talented poet, and a performer with beautifully atmospheric vocal expression.

A book of Jennifer’s work Locust and Marlin has recently been published (viewable on title link)


Website: http://jlwilliamspoetry.co.uk/


222761_10150164579576990_6756518_nAtzi Muramatsu, originally from Japan, is a talented cellist/composer who also wrote the filmscore for BAFTA award-winning film ‘The Making of Longbird’.

For the Whitespace preview, Atzi will be improvising music in response to my paintings  – he improvised at last year’s exhibition, and it was such an imaginative way of perceiving the paintings – which also focused viewers amongst the busyness of a social occasion.

In addition to classical performance, Atzi also plays in the melodious yet moody Lipsync for a Lullaby

Website: http://www.atzi.co.uk/

It’s just great that Jennifer and Atzi will be performing at the private view, it makes this into a really special event!

50 Paintings of Eigg Series: No. 3

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series. No 3. Acrylic, ink and salt on 5×5 inch wood (Sold)


Sometimes life seems to move too fast. It’s difficult to be present and I feel inadequate; too distracted and impulsive to be in the moment the way I want to be. It brings the character of Ricky Fitts to mind (or writer, Alan Ball) in the film ‘American Beauty’:

‘It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.’

Sanskrit philosophers wrote about presence thousands of years ago, but I like the immediacy of Alan Ball’s take on it – a plastic bag in the wind, which brings us into the here and now, and our anxiety producing world of rapid change and competition.

Below is a short video I took of waves from the Mallaig-Eigg ferry, accompanied by music from my friend Atzi Muramatsu, who moved from Japan to the UK some years ago. When I first heard this piece I was reminded of the rhythm of boats, waves, and the anticipation of journeys.


More music by Atzi here https://soundcloud.com/atzi-1

Website: http://www.atzi.co.uk/