Tag Archives: rose strang artist

(In progress). Ardban Waves, Evening. Mixed media on 17x11" wood. Rose Strang 2020

Psalms and the Sea

Above  – paintings in progress for the upcoming exhibition at the Limetree gallery, Bristol. 31st October.

This is a new series for the Limtetree, which I started while on holiday last week in the Applecross Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland.

Thanks to the ever-changing west coast weather, the sea changes its mood constantly, but I’ve never seen a white rainbow before! (see photo below). The cottage we stayed in is a forty minute walk from the road, so you have to take all your food, equipment and bedding on your back. It’s part of the charm of staying here, but we prepared ourselves for our arrival by taking more walks up Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat for a few weeks beforehand – it definitely enhances the experience to be fit enough to explore a bit.

 

Applecross is reached by driving up the Bealach na Ba (the pass of the cows) which is always a pretty dramatic experience visually, more than that though, the journey up this single track road with few passing places seems to inspire the entire spectrum of human behaviour – it’s quite entertaining!

 

You can see traces, in the remains of cottages everywhere, attesting to the fact that these coasts were home to larger communities in the past, many of whom would have struggled in the years after the Highland Clearances. That history has been written about extensively so I won’t go into it here, except to say that it played into my response to the landscape to an extent, and will come in to the mood of my paintings. I sense that though these communities struggled, they loved the landscape and its many moods and it was part of their faith.

Applecross is an area of ancient Christian pilgrimage from the 7th century and traces of that past include a classic 7th century stone Celtic cross –  now housed in Edinburgh’s Museum of Scotland

My friend Donald (who organised the holiday as he’s been visiting the area for many years) played some Lewisian/Hebridean Psalm singing while we were in the cottage; it speaks of a tight-knit religious community, but also (to my imagination anyway) it evokes the ebb and flow of the changing sea. Here’s a video clip …

 

I’ll be adding to the paintings series here over the next few weeks, so if you like the look of any of the paintings and would like to reserve one before the exhibition, please contact the Limetree Gallery on this link – https://www.limetreegallery.com/contact/

Lastly, some more photos from our stay. Thanks again to Donald, Adam and Catherine for a lovely and hugely inspiring week!

 

 

Stormy Sea. Ardban'. Charcoal on 31x22" paper. Rose Strang 2019

Off to Wander …

Above, ‘Stormy Sea. Ardban’. Charcoal on 31×22″ paper. Rose Strang 2019.

‘Off to Wander’ is the title of  a book I received in the post yesterday …

'Off to Wander'. Mary McCormick

‘Off to Wander’. Mary McCormick

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Excerpt) 'Off to Wander'. Mary McCormick

(Excerpt) ‘Off to Wander’. Mary McCormick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Mary McCormick while on an artist’s residency on the Isle of Iona in Autumn 2018. I was very grateful for her grounded presence in the hostel, which attracted numerous interesting characters, not all easy to get along with! Mary decided to close her gardening business at the age of 68, to travel around the world on a shoestring budget. Iona was one of her last destinations before she returned to the US to find work conserving its depleted grasslands.

Her book is a real inspiration to me as I’m attempting to write a series of small books to accompany my paintings – it’s proving a challenge! Not the writing (which I enjoy) but the choices on what to keep in or out of the books, how much information, how formal or informal and so on.

I love the fragments of experience in Mary’s book and the non-linear style. Have a read of the small excerpt above which is a lovely example of Mary’s humour and meditative observations. If you’d like to buy a copy you can contact Mary McCormick via email on:

offtowander@swcp.com and if she has enough copies left she’ll post it out to you.

I’m off for a wander myself next week (with my partner Adam, my friend Donald, and sister, Catherine)  to the wonderful Applecross Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. We were there last year, during which time I painted a series for a gallery in Fortwilliam.

This year I’m painting a series of new works for the Limetree Gallery, Bristol. The exhibition opens 31st October and (lockdown restrictions willing) I’ll be traveling down there to meet people (one-to-one) who are interested in the paintings. I’m honoured to be showing alongside two artists whose work I admire: Anna King and Mhairi McGregor .

As always I’ll update painting progress from Applecross. In the meantime, here are some lovely pictures from our stay last year!

 

 

 

 

'Aberlady Dunes'. Mixed media on 30x30 inch wood panel. Rose Strang April 2020. (Private Commission, NFS).

New Commission – ‘Aberlady’

Above, my new commission, painted for a friend – Aberlady Dunes. Mixed media on 30×30 inch wood panel. Rose Strang April 2020. (Private Commission, NFS).

I wanted the feel of walking towards the sea through tufty marram grass, sunlight traveling towards you. There’s the sense of changing weather – a soft sky that might rain a little, or break up into glorious sunshine.

This image shows scale …

(To show scale)' Aberlady Dunes'. Mixed media on 30x30 inch wood panel. Rose Strang April 2020. (Private Commission, NFS).

(To show scale)’ Aberlady Dunes’. Mixed media on 30×30 inch wood panel. Rose Strang April 2020. (Private Commission, NFS).

Like many self employed artists, I’m thinking ahead to how I might sell work when this year’s exhibitions won’t be going ahead due to the Covid pandemic. I’d prefer to live by selling artworks, not by applying for Universal Credit.

Not only does it seem the government is not prepared for the millions of freelancers out there, I’d want to see those who need it most being the first recipients of benefits.

 

 

 

Who knows how long we’ll be in lockdown? I have time to paint so if you’d like a painting that captures your favourite landscape, feel free to commission me to paint something for you, whether it’s a few inches big, or up to several feet! I usually charge a third of the payment up front, then the rest when a client is happy with the work. Email me on rose.strang@gmail.com if you’d like to chat about a possible commission.

The photos below show some of the process of painting ‘Aberlady’.

Keep well folks! X

'Aberlady' in progress. Rose Strang 2020

1. ‘Aberlady’ in progress. Rose Strang 2020

2. 'Aberlady' in progress. Rose Strang 2020

2. ‘Aberlady’ in progress. Rose Strang 2020

3. 'Aberlady' in progress. Rose Strang 2020

3. ‘Aberlady’ in progress. Rose Strang 2020

4 'Aberlady' in progress. Rose Strang 2020

4 ‘Aberlady’ in progress. Rose Strang 2020

 

 

 

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…

On to the big ‘Planets Series’ at last!

‘Sun, Planets Series’. Mixed media on 30×30″ wood panel. Rose Strang 2019.

I’m now working on the big ‘Planets Series’ paintings, and today completed the 30×30 inch version of ‘Sun, Planets Series’ (above).

I mentioned a while back that there will be a September exhibition, and I’ve been waiting to confirm a few details before announcing the exciting news that Michael Ward, author of the excellent Planet Narnia, the Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis will be giving a talk at the exhibition launch!

If you’ve read any of my blog recently you’ll know how inspired I’ve been by the book, which uncovers the hidden meaning behind the seven Chronicles of Narnia. In the book, Michael Ward describes the influence that Medieval Cosmology, and related myths surrounding each of the planets, had on the Narnia Chronicles, with each book corresponding to a particular planet as understood in the Medieval cosmos.

Nowhere in the Narnia Chronicles is this made explicit, but as Michael Ward explains, Lewis evokes the influence, atmosphere and associated qualities of each planet in the stories. It took someone as steeped in all of Lewis’s literary works to recognise Lewis’s particular understanding of Medieval mythology, also to recognise that C.S. Lewis was absolutely the sort of writer, and character, who would wish to keep this meaning hidden…

If you want to find out more, then keep your diary free for the 12th September 2019. The exhibition and accompanying talk by Michael Ward is being hosted by the Demarco Gallery at Summerhall, Edinburgh.

If you’re a C.S. Lewis aficionado you don’t want to miss it! I’ll be posting the rest of the Planets series at it emerges in the next two months.

Here’s the excerpt from Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (corresponding to the Sun) which I was thinking of when painting today …

Exhibition launch event

We had a beautiful evening for the ‘Planets Series’ exhibition launch yesterday! (More photos below).

It very convivial, and very atmospheric thanks to Atzi Muramatsu‘s beautiful cello performance in response to themes of the exhibition and paintings. I’ll be editing a video of the performance  soon which I’ll post here on the collaborations page. I really enjoyed the range of moods Atzi expressed which reflected the way each painting expresses a completely different atmosphere.

Thank you to all who came along, warm thanks to buyers of the paintings; Arlene, Adam and Fiona. Many thanks to Liza Horan for hosting help, mum for delicious cocktails, Donald Ferguson for glasses and set-up and Adam Brewster for taking excellent photos and videos of the event!

The exhibition is open to the public on Sunday 3th June and July 7th from 1 to 6pm daily. All info here – Open Studio

(Photos, Adam Brewster)

Exhibitions and available paintings Jan’ 2019

Current round-up of current exhibitions and (as yet) unsold paintings  …

 

Limetree Gallery, Bristol. (Contact gallery for enquiries Here)

Paintings available from the Limetree Gallery …

Winter Show. Resipole Gallery, 10th Nov’ to 22nd March. Ardnamurchan, Scotland. (Contact gallery for enquiries Here)

Paintings at the Resipole …

 

Small Paintings. Morningside Gallery, Edinburgh.  (contact gallery for enquiries Here)

Paintings at the Morningside Gallery …

Thoughts on people and culture …

‘Damascus Rose 3’. Mixed media on 36×36″ wood panel

My recent article about creative exploration of the way we view a people and its culture was published on Bella Caledonia today, link – http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2017/03/10/roses-of-the-world/

It’s great to add my voice to the creatives who contribute to Bella Caledonia –  an online publication that was launched in 2007 by Mike Small and Kevin Williamson (now also a supplement as part of The National).

It became hugely popular in the run up to 2014’s Scottish independence referendum, offering an alternative to mainstream media, and an interesting mix of in-depth opinion and culture alongside politics.

They increasingly encourage contributions from a variety of thinkers and creatives –  and my article coincides with a general interest in exploring ideas of identity and nation; a subject that has recently dominated headlines, most recently with Melanie Philips’ controversial (and inexplicable!) Times article which offered up some suspect ideas on what constitutes a nation. (I’d link to it but there’s a Times paywall – you can explore Bella’s response here  http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2017/03/07/authentic-nations/)

I’ve always been resistant to art that coincides with a certain political stance or party, and still am – my recent series was a visceral and emotional response to the situation in Syria, also my attempt at a creative take on the way propaganda influences our view of a nation, or a people and their culture. Ultimately though, the inspiration is landscape for me creatively, and I can’t wait for the upcoming trip to the Isle of Harris in May – peace and inspiration beckon!

The rose of all the world

Painting in progress. Damascus Rose 3

Painting in progress. Damascus Rose 3. 36×36 inches on wood panel

Above – painting in progress, this is the third and last in the Damascus Rose series. Tomorrow when this blue base is dry I’ll be painting hundreds of roses rising into the sky, viewed slightly from above probably.

I’ve been musing on the symbology of flowers today, the many flowers that have been attached or appropriated to causes. I’m thinking for example of the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid’s ‘little white rose’:

The rose of all the world is not for me

I want for my part

Only the little white rose of Scotland

That smells sharp and sweet – and breaks the heart

The little white rose was first adopted by Jacobites during the ’45 rebellion. A few years ago, former First Minister Alex Salmond suggested it might be a rose ‘for all Scotland’ – appropriating it as a symbol for anyone who lives in Scotland whatever their background or beliefs.

I began the Damascus series of paintings when I heard that the Damascus rose was no longer in production, due to the war in Syria, so for me this became a way to explore a difficult subject that I couldn’t claim to understand on a personal level, only as an observer, albeit a fellow human witnessing the suffering of ordinary people in Syria through my computer screen.

The rose seemed an appropriate symbol for me to explore; it often features in Middle Eastern poetry as a symbol of love, it has done for centuries and up to the present, as in this moving poem by Kurdish poet Bejan Matur, called ‘Peaceful morning’ …

A time before time
A morning of peace
Of roses
And fountains.
A welcoming
Of the creatures
Of the latecomer
Rescued from the hand of sleep
In the dappled dawn.
So arms
Moved away from a statue’s body
And found a human.
Desired.
What belonged
Far more than words
Was love.

'Damascus Rose 1'. Acrylic on 36x36" wood panel

‘Damascus Rose 1’. Acrylic on 36×36″ wood panel

The rose of Damascus is the linking theme in my three works; first the rose of Middle Eastern visual art, in designs we’re familiar with, on tiles and mosques, adopted into western designs too. I painted these conventionally across the wood panel, then scraped this back to ‘age’ it, then pretty impulsively scrawled over this the deep blue and red roses on the left, graffiti-like, perhaps to suggest a kind of protest, or survival of love and creativity amidst cruelty (several lovingly designed sacred mosques were blown up during attacks on Aleppo and Damascus, citizens almost immediately began to rebuild, just as Bosnians did with the Mostar bridge, decades ago).

The second painting has an underlay of rose madder (or alazarin crimson) the predominant p1140203blue-toned rose-red I used for the previous painting. I blocked out the pattern (based on a map of Damascus from above) in tape, then covered the painting in thick bitumen-like black mixed with salt. When the tape was pulled off the rose tones were revealed – intended as a sort of glow underlying destruction. (some of the most ancient streets in Damascus proved the best cover for residents under attack, as these streets were so narrow and deep).

p1140199

 

 

 

 

The third painting is taking shape, so I’m not quite sure how it will look, or exactly why I’ve chosen to paint roses rising into the sky, perhaps it evokes the idea of survival, even after death and destruction.

Returning to MacDiarmid’s Little White Rose, it was written (I think) in the 1920’s, when MacDiarmid was a supporter of Scottish Independence, but things have changed radically in Scotland since then; the area of Edinburgh I grew up in, Leith (where I live now, having lived all over the UK and occasionally abroad) is still often the first port of call for new immigrants – it’s affordable and central, predominantly working class with a long history of newcomers and settlers. When I was growing up here I witnessed an amount of racism against the Chinese and South Asian communities (the WW2 generation will no doubt remember racism against the first generations of the Italian community to arrive in Leith and Portobello further along the coast).

I’ve watched Leith change for the better over the years though, most radically as a result of the inclusive and democratic approach of the contemporary movement for Scottish independence, not just the approach led by the SNP but also among grass roots groups, for example ‘Scots Asians for Yes‘ ‘Women for Independence‘, Scots English for Yes‘, and broad groups or organisations such as Common Weal and the artist-led National Collective.

We look outwards now. So while the little white rose is dear to my heart,  we are all connected. To end this post – a poem by The 12th century Muslim Andalucian poet Muhyyeddin Ibn Arabi who wrote these lines before he died in 1240:

My heart has become capable of every form: it is a
pasture for gazelles and a convent for
Christian monks,
And a temple for idols, and the pilgrim’s Ka’ba, and
the tables of the Tora and the
book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love, whichever way his camels take.

Hebrides 13

p1120455 p1120459 p1120457 p1120460Today’s paintings in progress, of the Isle of Harris.

I was ‘channeling’ Frank Auerbach a bit on the very textured paintings (at least in terms of impasto paint application if not talent!) A camera tends to flatten out texture, so I’ve taken one sideways to show the thick layers –

p1120462

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of Auerbach’s works are portraits, but here’s a landscape example below –

8337bb8ad63bc18a486022af6e73d34eI remember gazing in fascination at one of his thickly textured portraits at Inverleith House Art Gallery in Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens as a teenager.

As with many others I was shocked to hear the recent announcement that the gallery will be closed due to funding cuts. Arts critic Joyce MacMillan began a petition online (link below) which you can sign to show your support for the gallery to remain open. I remain hopeful!

Link here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/prevent-the-closure-of-inverleith-house-edinburgh-as-a-public-art-space