Newly washed sheets on a line, the sky at Rannoch today, all billowing, blustering, fresh. Snow stripes the top of the mountains. The nether land, both earth and water, dialogical, sucks and pulls at wellies. It takes concentration, and effort to walk here. It is simply impossible to walk in a straight line, mapping becomes an intuitive observation based on colour, height, mass and perceived dryness of mosses, sedges, heather, blaeberry. Where the peat lies exposed I push in my fingers and am surprised by the softness and buttery nature, like slightly drying oil paint. Centuries old tree stumps lie exposed to the elements and I find a contorted branch in the shape of a serpent complete with a staring eye. Grey, black and white feathers from a bird I don’t know the name of, wee granite pebbles and a piece of wood which will become a surface for a painting when it dries. A silk scarf of rain slips over the landscape. Back at the car I look at my hands. Peat underneath my fingernails, black crescent moons. I see where I need to go next.
Wishing everyone a very very happy new year !
Oil on wood – 41 x 26 cm.
Merry Christmas and a very happy new year to everyone. Thank you for all your support this year.
2020 – Rannoch .
Mointeach Raineach is gaelic for Rannoch Moor.
The train’s headlights pierce this nearly shortest day of the year, sounding its horn as it corners the bend into Rannoch station. The sound echoes off the hill in agreement. Snow on the ground, footprints of wellies, dogs, deer, mice, a lopsided snowman with twiggy arms. A forleg of a deer on the track. The ice creaks, snaps in the loch with the slightest of breezes. I sit on the moor, next to a lone rowan tree for company. Wind sings on the high plateau to the east. I sit and wait and look and listen. All the while the sky is darkening. A heron flies overhead, the first living thing I have seen on the moor, its cry fills the silence as it slowly skirts the shoreline of the loch. The sound of ice breaking increases as the wind picks up. I make a quick drawing and have a cup of coffee from a flask that I remembered to make before leaving this morning in the dark. Snow might be coming and my thoughts turn to the long drive home. Time to leave. I pick up a small pebble from the loch, a speckled birds egg of a stone, a thing stolen from this heart land of ghosts and beauty, to remind me as I write this.
I’m reading Rob Cowen’s book ‘Common Ground’- a portrait of a Yorkshire edge-land, a piece of forgotten landscape that he returns to again and again to try and understand its layers. He writes……’We project all we are and all we know onto landscape. And, if we’re open to it, the landscape projects back into us. Time spent in one place deepens this interaction, creating a melding and meshing that can feel a bit like love. In the drowsy light of the coming evening I not only see where I have walked before, but who I was when I walked there. What I was feeling; what I was thinking. And isn’t this how we navigate this sphere ? Creating fusions of humans and place, attaching meaning and emotions, drawing cognitive maps that make sense of the realm beyond our comprehension. Our connection to the world is always two things at once : instinctive and augmented.’
Mixed media on paper – 23 x 29 cm.
Charcoal and watercolour on paper 140 x 50 cm.
Detail from piece.
Watercolour and charcoal sketch.
Cold December wind. Rooks in the trees. Snow on the mountains to the north.
Charcoal and watercolour on paper – 140 x 60 cm.