Tag Archives: iona

'Traigh Bhan Nam Monach. Iona'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

New paintings for the Limetree Gallery

'Sanna Sundown'. Mixed media on 12x12 inch wood board. Rose Strang 2020

In progress. ‘Sanna Sundown’ and at  top – Traigh Bhan Nam Monach, Iona

Today’s paintings in progress for the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. Traigh Bhan Nam Monach, Iona is complete. Sanna Sundown needs a bit more work. ‘Traigh Bhan Nam Monach’ means ‘white strand of the monks’.

How much would I like to be on that beach on Iona right now! I’d planned an arts project with my partner and a filmmaker from New York which would have been happening this month. (Sigh). Painting that crystal-clear turquoise sea was therapy anyway!

I went very loose and ‘painterly’ with these as I think that will work well for the Limetree Gallery. The brushwork is very spontaneous with just a few areas of detailed focus – it makes the eye work more and Limetree art buyers seem to enjoy this painterly approach that lets the viewer see more of the artist’s hand in the brushwork.

Needless to say, I enjoyed painting them and I’m happy with Iona, once I had that little sun-lit ripple at the bottom I was pretty much finished. I like the freshness of these and look forward to completing Sanna and another painting, tomorrow.

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…

Three paintings

Photo: Aberlady. Rose Strang 2020

This year I’ll be working on an arts and music project with Adam Brewster in response to three places: the isle of Iona, Aberlady and the isle of Lindisfarne. Other collaborators will also probably be involved as the project develops, such as Donald Ferguson and Atzi Muramatsu.

I’ve worked with Adam, Atzi and Donald on previous projects, all viewable on the ‘Collaborations’ tab in the menu above,so I’m very excited about this one!

The theme is loosely based around the fact that in the 7th century, the route from Iona to Lindisfarne via Aberlady was a pilgrim route. Our project will involve themes I’ve been exploring for many years – landscape, spirituality and history and not least the element of mystery since not much is known of those times!

Pilgrim map from website: eastlothianheritage.co.uk

Pilgrim map from website: eastlothianheritage.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam will be creating music for the project and I’ll also edit a video showing footage of the places interspersed with Adam’s music and the three paintings.

Other than that, I plan to paint a bit less frenetically this year and solely on request, for example if a gallery would like to put on a solo or small group show, or private commissions, which will give me time to develop paintings more slowly and to explore themes in more depth.

I’ll post updates as I go, in the meantime, here are some photos of our recent trip to Aberlady and paintings from Iona and Lindisfarne from previous years …

Aberlady. Rose Strang 2020

Aberlady. Rose Strang 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindisfarne, 2014

Iona, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Works in progress. Iona, October series.

Iona is a very different island in October – the bars and restaurants shut down as tourists slow to a trickle, everything feels wilder – more what you’d expect from a Hebridean island.

The wind is so strong you can lean against it. It’s not really cold, yet, but you have to wear a hat and hood as the sand blasts you in the eyes at times. Hair is a problem, as it can also whip you in the eyes so has to be tightly managed!

The birds appear to love the wind, they swirl above the waves in flocks, if you’re a bit short- sighted they look like wave splashes.

It all adds to the tumultuous Octobery weather and energy, it feels like everything is being cleared and scoured, not just the landscape but the very atmosphere and memories of summer. Despite the gritty eyes, the annoying hair, the noise etc, I love it!

This time I’m staying in Iona Hostel, not a tent, you’d have to be quite tough to survive a tent in this weather. I’ve camped in sub zero temperatures before, but again it’s the wind that’s the issue.

So my accommodation experience in a hostel is completely different – much easier. You immediately get friendly with people and it’s great to share stories. I’m full of admiration for the women I’ve been chatting with here – Mary, Jan and Dorothy from various parts of America, Jane from France and Rachel from the north of England – all of whom have been involved in humanitarian or aid projects around the world.

Our evenings around the kitchen table have involved a bit of wine, whisky, and much political debate, you can imagine the theme – the world appears to have gone to shit in many ways basically! – But these good humoured compassionate people don’t let that kill their optimism and effort.

Tomorrow is a full moon (in Pisces, hostel worker Mark tells me) so we all plan a night walk, I suggested this since I like the idea of a night painting. Of course the reality of painting in the dark in howling wind hurling sand in your eyes till you feel you’re being blinded is hilariously unpleasant to a city-bred person such as myself, however I can at least walk around a bit on the beach on tomorrow’s (hopefully cloudless) moonlit night, then attempt to paint my experience later in the studio…

It’s a lovely studio – a perfect set up with numerous intriguing sea- related objects, plenty light, I can make a mess within reason, and even light a stove if I get cold. So, thank you to John (owner of the hostel) and staff – Chris, Mark and Maria for providing such a friendly and excelient oasis for artists and creative people here on the north end of the island.

Hope to post moon pics after tomorrow eve …

Limetree exhibition on Saturday 15th September

‘Seagull, St Ronan’s Bay. (Isle of Iona)’. Mixed media on 16×12″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2018

Just 11 days to go until the launch of the new three-artist exhibition Texture, at the Limetree Gallery in Bristol!

The private view is on Sat’ 15th September from 11am to 3pm. I hope if you’re in the area you’ll drop in to see the work, which includes beautiful paintings by Vivienne Williams RCA and Henry Jabbour, also my recent paintings of Iona (see below).

Two have sold (Iona I and Iona II) also several by Henry Jabbour and Vivienne Williams, so if you’re interested in buying and don’t want to miss the opportunity, give the gallery a ring and they’ll reserve the work for you (contact details on link below)

The Limetree in Bristol is a lovely gallery next to the waterside, with large windows that bring in plenty of natural light – have a look at this link to Google maps which gives a 3D view of the space –

3D View, Limetree Gallery 

Map and contact details

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..