‘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