Isle Of Iona Residency Part 2

I woke up to a power cut yesterday. Thick fog and an eerie silence, very calm… the first really windless day. Everything was dampened by the fog; sand, sounds, colours, smells. I went down to the beach, big waves, flood tide - it was wonderful - only being able to see quite close things - no “view” out to sea. It felt very intimate as though I was isolated in my own little bubble. I decided to take canvases onto the beach, a rare opportunity to use them outside without having to weigh them down with rocks. Beautiful subtle greys and greens, this was all about sound and movement, huge waves pounding the rocks. Very exciting, a real thrill to paint in my own little world... I worked on several paintings and my brain seemed to wake up.

Fascinating how the fog not only changed the colour palette of these paintings but by obscuring the view made me use my other senses more, and respond to the movements and sounds with the paint. I lost track of the day completely…it felt like a very special, private, ageless moment where time stood still…as though all this grey mist had made anything possible…ironic that a fog had brought so much clarity. I started to realise that it is the rhythm and movement created by the action of the tides on these rocks which is of interest, not just capturing a momentary crash of water, but somehow distilling this, getting the underlying rhythm.

Lots of ideas emerging about time and motion and how these things can be noted down. Thinking of passages of paint being reminiscent of a phrase in music… all about harmony and discord, balance and flow... also thinking about using multiple panels to create larger work. I am starting to envisage large canvases once I get home with big passages of paint and realising that I need to absorb as much as I can about this experience. With that in mind I have been looking in more detail at the rocks.

One of the many wonderful people I have met here is a geologist who is able to explain, in layman’s terms a bit about the formation of this landscape. Fascinating and slightly mind bending! It is phenomenal to look through his magnifier at the structure of these rocks, like taking a walk on the surface of another planet… and incredible how every detail is a mirror of the larger landscape in microcosmic form. It also made me think about time and notation… how these rocks hold a silent record of their creation if we are able to read it.

Meeting a diverse mix of interesting people is a key part of this experience. The hostel seems to provide a string of well timed experts who are very generous with their knowledge and patient with their explanations. The perfect nurturing environment in which to discuss all sorts of ideas and concepts.

I have been staying in the Shepherd’s hut which is just up the hill a little way from the hostel. I love it ! I have become used to its quirks and gentle rocking… a bit like being in a boat, it is a haven which seems to encourage peace and clear thinking.

Part of the joy of being here is the speed at which the sky changes. It is so exhilarating when the weather is moving across rapidly, some days I have stayed in the same location all day and come back with such a variety of work, black skies, and dancing sunny waves all within ten minutes of each other. Here are a few sketch book pages.

The ferry didn't run today and the weather forecast is suggesting that storm force winds will stop it from running for the next couple of days... people are suddenly needing to leave the island sooner than expected or accept being here for longer... good not to have this dilemma. This change in the weather has somehow caused me to pin down the work I’m doing more… to focus on specific areas and think more carefully about what I need to take home with me. It is clear that this experience will fuel a whole body of new work continuing with the theme of time, speed and motion. I am very excited to scale up when I get back to my studio.

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© 2019 Alison Critchlow