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Susan's Blog

Saturday, 5 January 2019

'Who owns this landscape?...' - In Arcadia II

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‘Who owns this landscape? 

Has owning anything to do with love?’ 

A Man in Assynt by Norman MacCaig

‘Staring into a Scottish landscape, I have often asked myself why – in spite of all appearances – bracken, rocks, man and sea are at some level one.’

 by Neal Asherson, writer and journalist.

 

When I was a child my mother would often take us on holiday to a small, remote, cottage, owned by her artist friends. Bothy is perhaps more the correct term for the little house, because there is no electricity or running water, aside from the burn.  It is situated on the banks of Loch Fyne, on the Cowal Peninsula, not as remote as I once thought it was, it is within two hours drive of Glasgow. Grown up and with my own children I still try to visit when I can. The images above, photographs past and present, drawings from sketchbooks in the 90s, and most recent lino prints. I have filled many sheets of paper with my memories. This place has been a wellspring for my visual outpourings.

The house, the landscape and memories past and present, are imprinted in my imagination. The ancient oak woods we walk through to get to the bothy, swirling lichen covered shapes, loom large in my dreams. The open and uninterrupted view out of the window to the bay, across Loch Fyne to Tarbet, the small fishing village sometimes concealed by mist, or on a clear night, the houses across the Loch take the form of a string of fairy lights. The myths of ancient stones that mark the landscape of ancient Dalriada, and the deserted village, where it is said that the last occupant, in 1914, took his own life. People have walked here before me and since. Night time lit by the soft glow of fire and dull light of paraffin lamps, storytelling. Waking up to the gentle patter of rain drops on the roof and cry of seagulls. This place conjures up in my mind so many visual and sensory emotions, only by beginning to document them  in my work can I make sense of them. Asherson's quote resonates with me, the landscape and human presence exist together 'at some level one'.

 
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