Today’s and yesterday’s finished paintings, above.
My painting session which began in the beautiful, changeable Hebridean light and weather of Iona, then in the strange manicured lawns of Barnton, is near conclusion!
I’m now working on the final large painting, at about 3×3 feet, which will be a larger version of ‘Sound of Iona’. I think I’ve started to find my way a bit with ‘Seagull, St Ronan’s Bay’, which maybe says something about the layers of history of Iona, also there are layers of experience when there – flocks of tourists and over-priced gift shops, then here and there glimpses of the wilderness and peace the Benedictine monks or nuns of the 12th century might have experienced, or further back to St Columba in the 7th century. The colours, rocks and light never change though, not in my lifetime anyway.
I first read about Iona when I was about 20, touring the Orkney Isles with a theatre company. I read a book by William Sharp, a Scottish writer who adopted the pseudonym of Fiona Macleod to express his imaginative, emotional and subjective response to the island. It was called ‘The Island of Dreams’, written in 1913. He wrote very poetically about the island …
‘In spiritual geography Iona is the mecca of the Gael. It is but a small isle, fashioned of a little sand, a few grasses salt with spray of an ever restless wave, a few rocks that wade in heather, and upon whose brows the sea-wind weaves the yellow lichen’.
Also with moving expression of his spiritual response to Iona ..
There are moments when the soul takes wings: what it has to remember, it remembers; what it loves it loves still more; what it longs for to that it flies.
This series is just the beginning of my creative response to the island. I’ll be back in winter, when I’ll be staying at Lagandorain in the north of Iona. It’s been a dream of mine since about 1990, to respond creatively to Iona. Now seems a good time since I’m no longer burdened with the idea of creating something worthy of the island, and the subsequent feeling of inadequacy that thought brings – the thing is just to create!
The series will be on exhibition, alongside two other artists I’m proud to be exhibiting with (Vivienne Williams and Henry Jabbour) at the Limetree Gallery, Bristol, with whom I’m delighted to be exhibiting again (sounds like a typical statement, but they really are great to work with!)
I’ll post more details about the exhibition soon – it launches 15th September.