Arts Journal formative works
Hebrides 1 and 2. 3rd March 2008.
On returning from the Hebrides, it’s the ‘image’ that stays in the mind. The ‘image’ of crags , scratched rock surfaces that look like burnt steel in the rain, dark hags of jumbled peat and the lone house. I’m remembering this ‘image’ from my first trip to the West Coast of Scotland when I was on a climbing trip with St Mary’s College; we were a group of four students squashed in an old mini, the year was 1971, the fifth person was our driver, leader and teacher , the indomitable and poetic Marist Priest the Right Reverend Whin .
Its not unusual when I am creating a work of art, for thoughts to tumble around my head. This morning I’m working on these twin Hebrides works. And they are paintings that I particularly like to, what I call ‘think-walk through’. For, when creating a chord of cadmium orange against deep violet I take a walk down the developing valley or a climb up an emerging cleft that I have created in the rock. Not only am I getting into the picture but I also begin to start to give it a notion of despair. For any image of the Hebrides has to be full of the history of the clearances of the people in this barren land, a wild unforgiving place. Here all it takes is for the retina to sense a movement of light across the earth; a colour change to invoke that maybe naïve charged frame of mind, that things are getting better. Notions of the sublime. “Upon this lustre have I gazed that seemed; To have some meaning which I could not find; “ William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book eight. Love of nature-leading to love of mankind, As I walk with my brush towards the umber foundations of the croft I’ve just laid, I imagine myself striding across fields of ochre and yellow. The croft I’m building is as usual trackless, is small in stature, and is standing amongst an expanse of space. Thinking about it brings the feeling of staying there, to experience being in a rugged, twisting, wildness of colour, but not live there, it’s cold in the studio today. As I paint on, I’m musing about the memory of colour; (do we catalogue its time in our life or its effect). The disquiet felt when amongst cold gully’s on dark steel blue/green ridges on Ben Nevis’s Horseshoe, the shine of quartz across the valley, the colours of a blizzard on red Sullivan, and then on the Isle of Harris when needing to spend time in solitude, I walked next to its ever restless silvery shore and sky amidst the still black rock.
Rob Miller Ascot Studios