Bogland. Inwards and downwards.

 

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Oil on wood 20 x 15 cm

‘Inwards and downwards’, is a line from the poem Bogland by Seamus Heaney.

The painting has taken six months to make, waiting for the layers of paint to dry. I think it is finished but then like the peatbanks it might have more layers yet.

Bog painting.

 

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Peatbog on watercolour paper 78 x 56 cm.

Sitting on the beach at the edge of the loch, a convoy of great grey battleship clouds steam in from Glencoe. And yet, right here the sun is shining and if I close my eyes and listen to the gentle waves it could, almost, at a pinch be summer in Scotland, even at the back end of January. The lone rowan, the sentinel guarding my walks over the moor sighs in the wind. I set off to see how far I might get and how quickly my optimism is dented. I stumble, fall, wrench myself free from the quagmire, which seems determined to keep me. This is also a visit to make some work. I am dragging a large piece of watercolour paper behind me, in and out of the lochans and pools and peat banks. It stains, leaving traces of plant life and is soaked through. I must look curious to anyone who might tbe watching, but then, I haven’t seen a living thing since I arrived. I consider the paper and its marks , thinking ahead to what I will do to it back in the studio. Carefully rolling it up I put it in my rucksack and start to make my way back. At one point I sink, getting stuck and realise I shouldn’t be quite so cavalier. I have no knowledge of any use here. And then there’s the story I read about a woman trying to cross the moor in winter…… I spot some faint deer tracks, they know how to traverse the waterland. With their guidance I temporarily find firmer ground, until their track disappears and I’m baffled again as to how to proceed. When I can look up the light here is beautiful today. The sky pulses bright, then shadowed as different parts of the landscape are spotlit, like a lighting rig set for a stage. I am interrupted by my phone. Both my children have messaged me, one from Dundee the other from China with questions about van hire and the desire for scones. These things are important.  I make it back to the beach, ford the burn and just as think I will see no wildlife at all today I spot a small flitting bird in a stand of spruce on the track back to the station. I wait and it appears on a branch right in front of me, a goldcrest. My heart races . How stunning to see the smallest of British birds in the enormity of this landscape. A wonderful day.