“Timeless Places” by Anne Butler: an expressive meditation on our natural world with ‘joie de vivre’.
Solo exhibition “Timeless Places:”
15 – 20 September 2018
Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Opening times: 10am – 6pm.
Anne Butler is renowned for abstract landscapes and floral studies with a vivid, vivacious use of colour. Last year in September, I visited Dundas Street Gallery to view her showcase of paintings entitled “Land and Sea” featuring most evocative scenic views.
As I wrote at the time, “ There is a recurring theme of time, memories, ghosts of the past, the flow of the seasons, Spring flowers to migrating geese. Colour is clearly the dominant aspect of Anne’s vibrant green and blue land and seascapes.”
This new exhibition “Timeless Places” takes the viewer on a journey from the idyllic Hebridean island of Iona to the Canal Du Midi in France, as well as an artistic reflection on a recent loss in her family.
Anne spent a month on Iona in the early part of this summer. As she recalls, “ I like the changing weather on Iona. It can be misty in the morning, wild and windy in the afternoon and calm in the evening.”
The great pioneering Impressionist painters Monet and Cezanne found that they could capture the transient effects of sunlight by working quickly, “en plein air” rather than in a studio.
“For me a landscape hardly exists at all as a landscape, because its appearance is changing in every moment, but it lives through its ambience, through the air and the light, which vary constantly.”—Claude Monet
Likewise she works outdoors and in all weathers, painting in acrylic to build up layers with a rich colourful texture. This creates a marvellous perspective of sand, sky, sea, grass, rock, wild flowers through thick brush strokes to bring an intangible freshness to the scene.
Standing in front of these wildly abstract paintings, it feels as if you are there too on the sandy beach with the breeze of salt sea air and the sound of lapping waves.
Iona has attracted artists for decades most notably the Scottish Colourists. After painting scenic views in Venice and along the Cote d’ Azur, it was on a trip to Iona where Francis Cadell realised that the light on the West Coast of Scotland was perfect and he visited Iona almost every summer from 1912 for the next two decades. He felt very much part of the island community as described in his poem One Sunday in Iona, 1913.
Warmed by the sun, blown by the wind I sat
Upon the hill top looking at the sound.
Down in the church beneath, the people sat
On chairs and laughed and frowned.
No chairs for me when I can lie
And air myself upon the heather
And watch the fat bees buzzing by
And smell the small of summer weather
Let them bow down to God unfound
For me the sound that stretches round
For me the flowers scented ground
Upon the hilltop, looking at the sound.
Iona has preserved its symbolic status as the birthplace of Celtic Christianity since St. Columba arrived here from Ireland in 563 AD to build a monastery. Today the Medieval Iona Abbey has daily church services and residential Retreats.
“Pilgrimage” was painted after chatting to a visitor who had travelled from Minneapolis, just one of thousands of people who come to experience both the religious heritage and the restful, unspoilt beauty of the island.
Shimmering shades of blue reflect both sky and sea against dark grey blocks which could represent the Abbey or rocks on the shore. A sleek streak of aqua paint drips down the centre, creating the fluidity and movement of light and water with a dreamlike, meditative mood.
Tranquility too along the Canal du Midi, Languedoc which has attracted generations of artists. Here, Anne depicts the colourful expanse of vineyards and fields which flourish with pink poppies, lavender and golden sunflowers.
Around the walls are marvellous impressionistic landscapes re-imagined like a patchwork quilt as well as more realistic scenes such as Autumn trees, farmhouses and the grassy meadow around Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh.
There is a bold immediacy working on a scene while in the scene, a snapshot of the fleeting quality of light amidst painterly patterns. In this masterly new collection or artwork, Anne Butler captures the lingering, lost atmosphere of place, the underlying tranquil timelessness of beauty in our natural world with an expressive joie de vivre.
“Painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing sensations.”—Paul Cézanne