Rose Strang – Moonscapes: Isle of Harris @ Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh
I first came across the beautifully crafted and atmospheric landscapes of the Scottish Borders by Rose Strang when she exhibited her work at Whitespace Gallery, Howe Street, Edinburgh in July 2015.
At the time, I wrote: “There’s a distinctive sense of physically being outside in the open air as you study each canvas; it’s the subtlety of thin shards of sunlight through leaves as well as such a realistic perspective of each landscape”.
Rose is clearly inspired by the sense of place, the outdoor natural world and wide open spaces. This exhibition of new paintings, entitled Moonscapes, is based on her journey this summer to the Isle of Harris, the Outer Hebrides…..certainly a painterly destination for a breath of fresh air and stunning scenic views of mountains and seashore.
Before I describe the artworks, this is a fascinating story. Take a look at this photograph.
The white sands and gently lapping turquoise sea at Kai Bae Beach, Thailand looks like heaven on earth.
There is just one problem. The photograph is actually of West Beach on the beautiful, but slightly cooler, island of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. Instead of sending a photographer to Kai Bae, Thailand tourism simply Googled images of idyllic beaches and borrowed one of Berneray. The sand dunes and calm azure water may look tropical, but distant Harris hills and a lack of coconut palms is not Thailand!
The diverse scenery around Harris is simply stunning and certainly an artist’s paradise.
Take a tour around Harris to view the lush, languid beauty of Luskentyre Bay with its iconic undulating dunes of pure white sand, etched with wild machair grasses along the shore.
A totally different terrain is experienced on the east coast of the island where you’ll find a rugged, rocky, raw and wild seascape. Rose must have studied each place for hours to capture the change of light from dawn to dusk. As the title suggests, there are delicate scenes of lochs and distant hills bathed in soft moonlight.
What is especially creative is the method by which thick brushstrokes of oil, perhaps with the addition of grass or sand added, (similar to the masterstroke by Joan Eardley) to create a realistic aspect to denote the texture and tone of the natural environment on the canvas.
Colour palette is muted but again, natural, with blends of turquoise and navy blue to show the shallow and deep water of the sea, matched by the bracken brown and sage green shades of wild flowers and foliage.
The paintings range from large landscapes to miniature vignettes, but all composed with extraordinary detail, especially the study and movement of waves and clouds.
What I admire about Rose’s briskly painted, sketchy style of land and seascapes, is that they are purposely not photographic. A Kodak or digital image represents the accuracy of a scene, but not the atmospheric mood, the gentle graduation of light and shade.
This is the work of someone who is totally absorbed by what she sees, and with the astute eye of an artist, is able to present a fresh, impressionistic clarity of vision.
Just like her paintings of the Borders, here again you really feel that you are standing there on the beach or wild moorland on the Isle of Harris. Catch the whiff of the salt sea air, the warmth of the sun or chill breeze of late evening – as you walk around the gallery.
Moonscapes: Isle of Harris by Rose Strang
14 – 20 July, 2017
Whitespace Gallery, East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ
If you cannot visit the gallery this week, do take a look at her website for images and information: