DÙILTEAN – Elements
To go out onto the moor and hills is to adventure through a legacy of monumental forces which are hard to grasp in terms of human time scale and equally hard to visualise. Mountains are thrust up and carved down by the power of water in both its liquid and frozen states; forests grow, then die as climates change over millennia. One landscape gives way to another, time after time, in a fractal world where a whole continent is mirrored in a tiny detail and the micro reflects the mega. Contemplating the trail left by glaciation and climate change over aeons is a fascinating and tantalising challenge to the imagination. Dùiltean is my response to that challenge.
TÒISEACHADH – Beginning
As a child on the moor, I remember having a clear sense that there must have been a time when things were not as they presently are. When the peat knife hit a buried tree trunk it made a distinctive thunk sound that temporarily disrupted the quiet rhythm of the peatcutting team. Touching logs and branches hidden deep in the peat for thousands of years had its own unforgettable intrigue. Tòiseachadh is a series on the theme of the moorland eco-system taking root, gaining ground and building up, millimetre by millimetre. Topography, climate and plant morphology are the focus in terms of colour, texture and form. Each image represents the notion of genesis in a variety of conditions, from blanket bog to montane heath.
IONMHASAN – Treasures
Long before I ever knew what an eco-system was, I revelled in exploring every hill, crag, loch, burn and bog. It was a matter of fact to me that different places contained different types of flora and fauna according to how much water, light and shelter they had. If I wanted to find carnivorous plants, fairy women’s matches, lichen, dragonflies, sticklebacks, crowberries, or white heather, I knew in what sort of terrain I should look. The mosaic-patterned eco-systems, some barely bigger than a hand, were a source of infinite wonder to me from my earliest days on the moor. The colours and textures are filled with harmony and contrast. Events take dramatic turns; carnivorous plants quietly catch their prey; beasts turn into beauties as creatures metamorphose; colours change dramatically within seasons and moods transform within moments. Ionmhasan is a series which explores the theme of the beauty and exuberance of moorland life.
FIONNSGEUL – Legends
Wild places have always had a deep impact on the human imagination, The moorland and uplands have for centuries provided the perfect atmospheric theatre for dark, imaginative tales. Fionnsgeul is a short series referenced in stories and beliefs that I heard as a child while living out on the moor.
NA ÀIRIGHEAN – The Sheilings
Every summer of my childhood was spent out at the àirigh. To grow up there was to know the moor joyously and effortlessly. The remains of all the àirighs I knew are still there to varying degrees, slowly being absorbed by the moor. Going there now is an emotional experience: everything is tangible and yet out of reach. Na Àirighean is a personal memorial to places and people I knew intimately in what now seems like another age.
GRÈIS-BHRAT – Tapestry
The tactile liveliness of wool yarn is highly compelling to me, which is why I design my own colour ranges and combine them with natural dyes from moorland plants and lichens. The process of making a tapestry is akin to the making of the moor itself, for it builds up slowly, by degrees. Grèis-bhrat is a series of three fragment tapestries which represent the co-ordinates by which I plotted my course through Mamba.