Tag Archives: Scottish Borders art

Borders Country Day 18

P1250862 P1250866Today’s painting in progress – trees near Gladhope Reservoir. This is a bigger work at 40×30 inches which I’ll probably finish by tomorrow.

I’m thinking about the people in Greece today, full of admiration for their brave vote. Either a yes or no wouldn’t have meant an easy time, but voting oxi brings few certainties except the knowledge that you’ve voted for what you truly value.

I read a bit of Foucalt at art college and through the years. One of his books, ‘Fearless Speech’ explores the roots of democracy and the Greek word associated with that ancient movement – parrhesia – meaning ‘fearless speech’. Nowadays we call it freedom of speech, but its original meaning was more specifically about ordinary people having the freedom to speak without fear of punishment. It was understood that the cities and rural landscapes were managed at grass roots level by ordinary people, the least rich. Therefore when they spoke it came from knowledge of life and of making their societies work for the majority; they spoke for the many, not the few. The ancient Greeks saw this as the antidote to elitist corruption…

I’m not even going to say that well-worn phrase!

I feel more than interested in what happens to Greece as I lived there in my late teens for a year. I was quite an adventurous soul and had met an interesting Greek man on holiday who asked if I’d like to stay there. Every parent’s worst nightmare probably! But I didn’t, as many predicted, get pregnant! I’m not saying it was always easy adapting to a rural island culture out of tourist season, but the experience stayed with me for life, creatively and politically. I have very fond memories of the Greek people I came to know and love, their endless generosity, great humour and community spirit.

The thing I missed most when I returned, apart from the people and the sun (I’ve never really re-adapted to UK weather – rain is lashing on to my window as I type!) was the food, and walking in the mountains. I bought a horse while there, but couldn’t ride it as it wasn’t trained for amateurs such as myself! But I’d take it for walks up the mountains valleys.

Greece in spring is a revelation; it begins in February with the heavy rains, then the valleys are transformed from barren ochre grass and dry river-beds to lush green valleys filled with swaying crocuses alongside gushing clear waterfalls. I’d walk up the hills with my horse, through the tall eucalyptus trees and further up amongst ancient gnarled olive trees, she’d trot along beside me then wait patiently while I collected armfuls of crocuses.

It says a lot for the people of Paros that they never treated me as though I was mad – I mean, who takes their horse for a walk all the way up a mountain without actually getting on it?!

I’m wishing the lovely people of Greece all the very best in these coming days and years and I know where I’ll be going on holiday this year, if my exhibition goes well 🙂


Demonstrating with Syriza Scotland in Edinburgh last Saturday..

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Borders Country – Day 2

‘Tweed River near Peebles 2′. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

‘Tweed River near Peebles 2′. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

‘Water Reflections (River Tweed) 2’. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

‘Water Reflections (River Tweed) 2’. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

Today’s paintings – two studies of the River Tweed.

As mentioned in last Sunday’s post this year I’ll be painting the Borders landscapes of Scotland and England.

There’s no particular topical reason for this (Scottish independence for example) – I just decided to paint the Borders because it’s such a familiar landscape and I’ve been visiting the area since I was a girl.

In summer we usually spend quite a lot of time at the River Tweed – building fires, canoeing, or just sitting around enjoying a picnic.

Borders countryside is quite gentle compared to the Scottish Highlands, or even the Yorkshire Dales farther south, but there’s definitely a distinct Borders look and feel; characteristic rolling hills, the patchwork of farmland, tree plantations, un-tended areas of wilderness that are variously verdant and lush, or stark and bleak.

There are numerous lochs, reservoirs, castles, Peel towers and rivers. Dry-stone dykes, sheep – loads of them, and horses (an excuse for me to paint horses, which I love to do!) And of course there are the west and east coastlines in Dumfries and at Berwick.

It’s very varied, which is why I’m looking forward to painting this series so much. As always, I’ll blog about the places I paint since that’s all part of the fun. People, the arts, places to visit and so on. Also, the Borders country has a very dramatic history – due partly to wars between Scotland and England.

Engraving, showing Borders Reivers raid on Gilnockie Tower

Engraving, showing Borders Reivers raid on Gilnockie Tower

‘Reiving’ (raiding cattle and other resources across the borders) became a way of life for many in the Borders.

In the first place this was through necessity – as a side effect of war and its devastating impact on the land, but then even in peace time Border Reivers chose to live this way, and they didn’t take kindly to being monitored  by the authorities of the time!

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research and in tomorrow’s blog, I’ll explore more about the Border Reivers. You’ve maybe read or heard of Sir Walter Scott’s famous stories about the Borders, and though factual in terms of names and some events, these were highly romanticised.

Statue of Borders Reiver, Galashiels

Statue of Borders Reiver, Galashiels

In fact, the more I read about Border Reivers history (Charles MacDonald Fraser’s ‘Steel Bonnets’ among other books) the more it sounds like a cross between cowboys, guerilla warfare and the Mafiosi (but more anarchic!)

Nowadays the Borders are as calm and safe as it gets – sleepy villages with antiques shops and small art galleries, sheep farmers, baroque hotels. You’d never guess its dark and difficult history, the only clues to the past in the landscape are the occasional Peel Towers (defensive look-out towers) dotted around the countryside, and of course there’s a wealth of literature and history to be explored in the numerous books on the subject, also castles, abbeys, ancient houses and museums

So how did this area change so radically after the Union of the Crowns in 1707? I suspect that this may reveal yet more grim history. It’s not all gloom though – there are Borders Ballads and poems, not to mention the beautiful landscape of which I have many happy memories, and there’s another reason I want to explore Borders history; one of the most notorious Borders Clans or families were the Kerrs, and as my Grandmother was a Kerr, I definitely have ancestors from the Borders!

So this year’s blog will be a combo of painting forays and ‘Who do you think you are’ minus the celebrity angle!

Today’s paintings again, from different angles, showing texture/size etc. (All paintings at 5×5 inches are available to buy at £57 each, or £100 for two)

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Borders Country


‘River Tweed near Peebles 1’. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

'River Tweed near Peebles 2'. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

‘Water Reflections (River Tweed)’. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

The two small paintings above and right show views of the River Tweed in the Borders of Scotland, a favourite family picnic spot for as long as I can remember.

These are the very first in a new series for my 2015 project which explores the dramatic landscapes of Borders country, from Dumfries in the West to Berwick in the East.

Each month I’ll be painting  landscape and exploring the history and culture of each area, then blogging the new paintings and experiences here.


The project will take me on a journey from the West coast of Scotland then through the densely forested river valleys and hills near the ancient towns of Jedburgh, Melrose and Kelso, following the course of the River Tweed then on to the East-coast seascape, ending at Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in the English Borders.


Flaubert Gallery, St Stephen’s St, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

The paintings (on wood and canvas) will range from small to large with every size in between, and they’ll be available to buy here online, and as part of exhibitions throughout the year.  

Exhibitions for 2015 in Edinburgh include the Whitespace Gallery, Howe Street  in July, and the Flaubert Gallery in early Autumn

For the Flaubert I’ll be showing a series of twenty five 4×4 ft paintings (exclusive to the gallery) on wood panels, capturing the beautiful Borders landscape from coast to coast.

If you’re interested in buying the smaller works throughout the year, such as those below, email me at rose.strang@gmail.com and I’ll post the painting to you within the week. 5×5 inch paintings are £57 each (or two for £100). They’re ready to hang, or can be propped on a shelf.

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Flaubert Gallery


Flaubert Gallery in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

It’s been a lovely spring day in Edinburgh today (despite slightly Siberian winds), not least because after a month of flu I’m finally on the mend!

Also I dropped in to have a look at my three Eigg paintings now on exhibition at the Flaubert Gallery in Stockbridge, then after an enjoyable chat with gallery owner Derek Gilchrist, we agreed I should do a solo show this Autumn. P1210079

It’s great to be on board with this excellent gallery and I’m really inspired about the new series of paintings I have in mind for the solo show.

The series will feature the dramatic landscapes of Borders country, from the Solway in the West to Berwick in the East. The paintings will take the viewer from the coastline near Dumfries, through the lushly forested valleys and hills near the ancient towns of Jedburgh, Melrose and Kelso, following the course of the River Tweed, then on to the wild East-coast seascapes with a visit to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in the English Borders.

I really love the Scottish Borders, we (family an10298943_250319341839429_8318336951627099163_nd friends) often drive around the Borders at the weekend, and one of our favourite picnic spots (photo on right!) that we visit most summers is on the River Tweed near Peebles.

P1020475The photos to left and below show Neidpath Castle and the River Tweed and they echo the mood I’d like to capture for this series; the lush, inland country of the Borders which makes me think of verdant medieval tapestries! Also the wild seascapes to West and East. P1290475

I’m looking forward to painting this series which will include a lot of variety, and I’m also looking forward to showing at the Flaubert Gallery this year.


If you’re in Edinburgh I hope you’ll drop in to see all the excellent paintings on exhibition at the Flaubert just now (and if you’ve time, a coffee and chat with gallery owner Derek!). The Flaubert Gallery is in St Stephen’s Street, Stockbridge right next door to the Antiquary Bar (and all the cafes and interesting boutiques that make Stockbridge ideal for weekend meanderings!)