Tag Archives: scottish painters

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

 

 

 

 

 

Resipole, Ardnamurchan

The exhibition launch at the Resipole Gallery was fun and convivial, and Ardnamurchan was beautiful as always. (above – ‘Sanna Bay, Seaweed’, below, photos from the Resipole) ..

 

 

 

 

The exhibition continues until 28th June. All artworks on this link, also contacts for the gallery if you have any queries about the paintings: https://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/rose-strang

I went up there with a few friends and we stayed on the beach at Ardtoe in the Ardnamurchan peninsula – midgy but lovely.

Some photos –  in the afternoon, sunset then dawn…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing the castles and mythology theme for the Planets Series, we visited Castle Tioram which, though very overcast, looked mythical as ever, more so perhaps. Bad weather suits the west coast and highlands! These luscious pink rhododendrons are everywhere in May and June on the West Coast …

 

 

 

We sheltered in my favourite hotel – the Glenfinnan Hotel at Loch Sheil…

 

 

 

And lastly, some photos taken while we drove through Glencoe – it looks iconically Glencoe-esque in this weather …

 

 

 

New painting – private commission

‘Wallace Mounument, Stirling’. Mixed media on 10×10″ wood panel. Rose Strang, May 2018

Today’s painting (above) is a private commission for a friend. It’s of the Wallace monument in Stirling.

Gus recently got in touch to ask if I’d paint the Wallace Monument for his mum, who grew up next to the Wallace Monument. His mum isn’t well just now and I was very touched and honoured to be asked.

I decided to paint a view with the Ochil hills in the background, with the sun coming out after a rain storm; I hope that’s how it looks!

Here’s a close-up of the tower, I’ve made it fairly impressionistic rather than detailed – the way it appears at a distance in sunlight ..

 

 

 

 

The tower in real life is quite beautiful – (images easily findable online) made of warm yellow sandstone which catches the light in the late afternoon and at sunset. It sits on the Abbey Craig; a quartz-dolerite intrusion that was harder-wearing than the surrounding  landscape, so took its current shape after the glaciers retreated about 14 thousand years ago.

The Abbey Craig was also the site of Wiliam Wallace’s HQ during the battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and the tower is a fitting tribute to this fairly monumental human being! He was apparently 6 foot 7 inches with a broad-boned warrior’s build. The sword he used in battle was at least five feet (though that would have been for an initial charge towards cavalry apparently).

The  tower was built in 1869 and is characteristically Victorian and ornate in style, though inspired by Medieval era buildings. The top represents a crown and, to my eye, if you see just the tip of this emerging from the surrounding foliage, it looks strangely similar to Hindu temples from thousands of years ago.

Pretty much everyone has seen Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, so most of you will have picked up the general gist of the story, and myths! If you read this blog you’ll know I’m always curious about the history of painting subjects, so if you’re interested, read on for  a brief outline about William Wallace …

Early depiction believed to be a likeness of Wallace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few hundred years after William Wallace died, a writer called Blind Harry wrote a history of Wallace, much of which is deemed to be fantasy, but nonetheless the facts are there, as attested by official records of the time …

Following the untimely death of King Alexander III of Scotland, whose only heir was his three-year-old granddaughter, Scotland was in disarray and King Edward I of England was brought in to help arbitrate. You do have to wonder why anyone was surprised when he took full advantage of the situation, since he was renowned as a pretty unpleasant character to say the least – he decided to appoint himself Lord Paramount of Scotland.

Skirmishes broke out against the English occupation, and support for the cause grew as tactics of the occupation grew more brutal. The first proper battle, led by Wallace, defeated Edward’s army at Stirling Bridge.

After this victory Wallace was appointed guardian of Scotland, but the next battle was lost. He attempted to rally support from the French but  was later caught then tortured and killed for treason (pretty much exactly as depicted in Braveheart except that he was also dragged through the streets behind a horse for five miles before the execution). After this, Scotland appeared to be defeated, but covert plans were being made as Robert the Bruce succeeded Wallace as Guardian of Scotland, Robert the Bruce then went on to win against the English in the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and after the 1300’s Scotland remained entirely independent up until the treaty of Union in 1707.

It would be nice to know more about the character of Wallace, but there’s only speculation and few hard facts. Suffice to say he was clearly a born leader – he wasn’t from nobility but was probably educated and trained as a warrior, he was also clever, as attested by battle strategies, and extremely determined. The decision to build a monument to Wallace came at a time of resurgence of interest in Scotland’s national identity, following the near decimation of Highland culture following the Highland clearances.

Thanks again to Gus Carmichael for commissioning this painting, it’s been a pleasure to paint and an honour to be asked!

Cockenzie Power Station Limited edition print series

'Cockenzie Power Station, 26th September 2015'. Mixed media on 17x11" wood panel

‘Cockenzie Power Station, 26th September 2015’. Mixed media on 17×11″ wood panel

As mentioned a few weeks ago, limited edition prints of Cockenzie Power Station, 26th September 2015 will be available at the Peter Potter Gallery in Haddington.

They’re in a limited edition of 25 Giclee prints at 17×11 inches (signed, dated, numbered and titled by hand)

These are now on display in the gallery which is near Lungate Bridge, Haddington at number 10, the Sands. There’s a lovely cafe in the gallery with views of the bridge. The current exhibition by Alan Knox explores ‘the debatable land’ and the history of the Borders country.