Land and Sea: Paintings and Poems by Anne Butler & Sue Mayfield, Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh
“Tread softly on the shore, step lightly at the margins,
where the sky is thin and land meets sea,
and heaven touches earth”.
from Tread Softly on the Shore, Sue Mayfield
Anne Butler studied at Leith School of Art, Edinburgh and now lives and works in Dumfries and Galloway. She describes her work as a free and loose style responding to the Scottish landscape, weather and seasons. “Colour is very important to me. I think colour can change moods. I paint in acrylic, building up layers and scraping back to reveal the colours beneath”.
Sue Mayfield is a writer of many talents, publishing award winning fiction and non fiction for children and adults. Her most recent books are Under the Sea (2012) and Hill of the Angels (2016). Around the gallery is a series of lyrical poetry to reflect the dramatic mood of Anne’s paintings.
Colour is clearly the dominant aspect of Anne’s vibrant green and blue land and seascapes. Country fields are created like a patchwork quilt with bold abstract cubist style blocks, representing yellow summer corn, verdant green grasses and russet red leaves of Autumn.
“Full Moon over Blue” is a marvellous scene, reminiscent of Joan Eardley’s “Catterline in Winter” – pale moon, snow and clifftop cottages.
What the viewer will appreciate so much is how these dreamlike illustrations of land and sea are evoked with such emotion through the power of the written word.
Most impressive are the wild energetic waves and splashing spray of the sea in “Taste the Salt Drench,” as described beautifully in Sue’s poem, “A Thousand Thousand Tears.”
To cross the ocean, face the deep….
Taste the salt drench of a thousand thousand tears.
from A Thousand Thousand Tears, Sue Mayfield
There is a recurring theme of time, memories, ghosts of the past, reflected in an underlying narrative about fishermen, ships which pass in the night, the flow of the seasons, Spring flowers to migrating geese.
While Anne paints the grey expanse of skies, stormy seas, boats and birds, Sue captures each vivid view in verse:
Out of the blue … a man emerges bearing fish,
a wish, a skylark sings, a heron uncrumples sailcloth wings.
from Out of the Blue, Sue Mayfield
There is such poignancy in her perfectly crafted phrases, richly reminiscent of the short, sharp poetic style of Sylvia Plath observing rural life, tulips and honey bees in her Devon garden.
These paintings and poetry create an artistic and literary dialogue, where images of moorland, meadows, sandy beach and ocean waves are echoed both in colour on the canvas and words on the page.
The Dundas Street Gallery,
6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh
2 – 7 September 2017 – daily, 10am – 6pm.
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