‘Where Sky Meets Earth’: tranquil, meditative seascapes by Janise Yntema @ The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
Originally from New York and now based in Brussels, Janise Yntema is enchanted by the wild open landscape of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. She specialises in working in encaustic, the ancient painting technique combining dammar resin, beeswax and pigment. It dates back to the ancient Greeks who decorated ships, statues and buildings and also used to create the murals of Pompeii. Encaustic literally means to ‘burn in’ whereby heat fuses the organically pure materials together.
‘Nature has always had an influence in my work. The romantic landscape and memories of places I have experienced, are a subject that I continue to return to in my work. The English Romantic painter, John Constable, is quoted as saying that painting is another word for feeling.
I would add that, for me, landscape is another word for spiritual‘.
This exhibition, ‘Where Sky Meets Earth’, covers her journeys over recent years around Scotland including Oban, Mull, Staffa, Mallaig, Skye, Portree and Ullapool. Without giving exact locations in the titles of each painting, the overall theme is the swiftly change in light and weather from dawn to dusk across the peaceful, unspoilt environment.
A hazy blue glow envelops the forest of tall pine trees along the shoreline in As Morning Still Sleeps, with the faint contour of distant hills lost in a murky mist. The perspective places the viewer immersed in the woodland, to feel the crisp morning air and utter stillness.
Before I Arise pictures the actual scene experienced on an early morning walk along the bay in Oban, as she describes: ‘I find the moments before dawn mystical.’ There’s an extraordinary photographic quality to the dark silhouette of shapely islands, and the shimmering light softly reflected on the flat calm water.
With the sea reduced to a sweep of brushstrokes, the focus is entirely on the fiery, coral- tinted clouds in Red Sky at Dawn. Textured layers of oil paint and bees wax create a semi-transparent glossy, glowing sheen, the pale colour palette of blueish-greys merging across the indistinctive horizon with the flow and fluidity between sky and sea.
A glimmer of the day’s dying light is captured in Evening’s Hush, much more of an impressionistic abstracted composition in which tonal colour and diffused light mingle in a swirling mass of the elements – air, cloud, water, earth. With the effect of a smirr of rain it’s powerfully atmospheric to illustrate the emptiness and expanse of the wide open sky and sea.
‘I am at my most inspired when I think of the poetry that is nature … a search for tranquillity ..the warmth of the sun’s last light and whisper of the breeze … a sense of memory, the shifting line between what was, what will be and what has been envisioned.’
A placid, poetic seascape is calmly and quietly envisioned in Listen to the Wind. This dreamlike composition captures a meditative moment of silence and solitude with such melancholic mood and soft, subtle luminosity.
Observing land and sea, hills and horizons, Janise is always captivated by the shifting light and scurrying clouds across the sky, taking photographs as an aide-memoire to recreate the meteorological magic as witnessed in Stories from Clouds (see below).
With a philosophical, aesthetic vision, Janise Yntema shares the emotional response of the Romantic poets and painters to the surreal, sublime beauty of the natural world.
This superlative exhibition of majestic, moody paintings document with delicate detail ‘the earth’s fragile beauty,’ reflecting time, space and place – all at once, realistic, lyrical and imagined.
‘…a sense sublime,
Of something far more deeply interfused,
… the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky.’
William Wordsworth: from “On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye, July 13, 1798”
The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Where Sky Meets Earth: Janise Yntema
2 – 25 March, 2023: Tuesday to Friday 11-6pm. Saturday 11-2pm
Illustrated exhibition catalogue available, £10.
‘Gazing Heart’: lyrical, abstract Scottish landscapes by Mary Morrison at &Gallery, Edinburgh.
Mary Morrison is a brilliantly perceptive artist from the Outer Hebrides who explores the intimate sense of place, space and light as observed around these islands in her paintings.
The exhibition title ‘Gazing Heart’ is from a poem by W.B. Yeats ‘In Memory of Major Robert Gregory’ about the death of a friend, an artist, in the First World War.
“In relation to my work it is about an intensity of gaze that goes beyond the merely optical or physical. It is about the inner gaze and recognising the direction our heart is gazing in and how what we love, what matters to us, will determine who we are. Going beyond the surface is important to me, and the intention is for these works to reveal themselves slowly.”
She is inspired by the written word, such as nature poems of the fellow Hebridean, Iain Crichton Smith, and also by geopoetics – ‘place, culture, world’ – the link between landscape and mindscape, envisaged by the Scottish poet and intellectual nomad, Kenneth White.
A curving contour of lapping waves in Tidal progression II is akin to a bird’s eye view of the line where sea touches the shore. The contrast of grey rugged rock and translucent water is so delicately detailed in softly shimmering, transitory light.
A mesmerising, mystical optical illusion in Squall/The Farthest line of Light, as a mass of drizzling mist descends over the splashing surf to create a lacy veil over the coastline cliffs. An amazing layering of oil, pigment and beeswax for texture and tone reflects the moonshine glow across the ink-black night sky.
‘Sea, immortal waters, you are the harmony around us forever.
We exist in your music,
In your blizzard of white gulls….
Wherever I am, you are with me,
In sunsets over the Minch,
You are my gaunt theme, my poem which burns in water.’
From ‘Lewis’ – Iain Crichton Smith
With reference to the Muse of sacred poetry, dance and eloquence, Polyhymnia II has a more abstract expressionist approach – an effervescent fluidity to depict the natural elements – a choreographed, floating flurry of clouds and rain dripping down the canvas, with no distinctive horizon, boundary or border between sky and sea.
‘My intention is not to depict a landscape in a literal sense but to explore in a more abstracted way the relationship between the individual and the landscape – a ‘geography of the mind’. My work suggests journeys, edges, tidal lines – always shifting.’
A dreamlike geographical map is apparent in Lost Lands II in which a meandering maze of curving and straight lines are scratched across the surface. Perhaps faint footsteps in the snow with an arc of compass pointers heading in the opposite direction, to navigate the way to a remote distant island, lost in a sea fog.
From the Hebridean seashore take a journey to the tranquil, rural landscape of the Scottish Borders. In Borders River II, the viewer is immersed in the lush green woodland, fresh, fragrant air and a sparkling, fast-flowing stream under a flash of bright sunshine. The delicate horizontal line across the centre divides water and sky with a vague shape of a gentle sloping hill.
There’s a magical, minimalist technique in distilling the realistic panoramic perspective of wild open spaces with such concision and focus. Through the imagination of a meditative mindscape – ‘memory places’ – here are just the essentials of our natural world: water, wind, earth, sky, sun and storm, amidst silence and solitude.
Mary Morrison is an intuitive, imagist, lyrical landscape artist, physically and emotionally connected to the environment, observing and searching deeper with an ‘inner gaze .. beyond the surface’, guided by her poetic gazing heart.
To paraphrase a review of Kenneth White’s writings, she shares the same experiential, symbolic vision of ‘clarity, emptiness, purity of spirit, a north of the soul, a pathless path’.
The &Gallery, 3 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG
Mary Morrison: Gazing Heart
4 -29 March, 2023 – Tuesday to Friday: 10am to 5pm. Saturday 10am to 4pm & by appointment
Artist’s Talk on Saturday 25 March, 3-4pm
A Q&A with the artist Mary Morrison. The event is free, however booking is essential.
For more information: www.andgallery.co.uk