Rose Strang: ‘The Living Mountain: Dreaming a Response’ – luminous, painterly poems capture the wildness of nature @ Heriot Gallery, Edinburgh

Nan Shepherd, (1893-1981) – novelist, nature writer, philosopher

To commemorate the 130th anniversary of the birth of Nan Shepherd, Scottish novelist and nature writer, this exhibition of paintings by Rose Strang illustrate the new Folio edition of ‘The Living Mountain.’

First published in 1977, Shepherd’s timeless, classic memoir describes the wild, wonderous beauty of the Cairngorm mountains – ‘The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain.’

This book of twelve poetic essays, such as Water, Frost and Snow, Air and Light, and simply, Being, capture her emotional and spiritual sense of time and place, comparing the experience to a Buddhist’s pilgrimage.

“So there I lie on the plateau …over me, blue air and between the fire of the rock and the fire of the sun, scree, soil and water, moss, grass, flower and tree, insect, bird and beast, wind, rain and snow – the total mountain. Slowly I have found my way in.”

Nan Shepherd, ‘The Living Mountain’.

To appreciate the literary topography of these land lines, Rose Strang set off to follow in Shepherd’s footsteps and this selection of paintings each inspired by selected literary extracts from ‘The Living Mountain.’

Rose Strang, ‘Among Elementals’, The Living Mountain Series

The bleak emptiness of the Highland environment in Among Elementals has such a dreamlike perspective fading into the distant mist.  White sheets of snow drip down the mountain-side like a melting glacier, while thick smudges of grey cloud swirl across the sky. The streaked, scratched, layered effect of thick oil paint on wood deftly evoke the textured terrain of hard rock and scree across this frozen glen.

Rose Strang, ‘Everything became good to me’, The Living Mountain Series

There’s a distinctive sense of being outside in the raw, frosty air in Everything became good to me, standing in this rugged land, a carpet of purple heather and trees bent over in the wind. Looming above is the craggy rock face of sparkling ice in a glow of sunlight.  Just as Shepherd documented what she saw, heard and felt in words, Strang portrays the atmospheric spirit of the scene with such detailed, dramatic vision.

Rose Strang, ‘I like the unpath best’, The Living Mountain Series

I like the unpath best is such an imaginative phrase – the idea of going off the beaten track to escape and find a place of solitude in a lost glen. In this meadow of pink, purple, red and yellow wild flowers, imagine a waft of sweet fragrance and warm sun on this August day. 

Rose Strang, ‘It is luminious without being fierce’ The Living Mountain Series

A translucent sheen bathes the view of mountain and loch in It is luminous without being fierce, the soft wash of pale pastels and impressionistic sketchy technique create a fluidity of light, air and water.  A reflective mood of stillness is captured in this tranquil composition – delicate yet majestic at the same time.   

They say that a picture paints a 1000 words. Nothing could be truer here. Shepherd encouraged the reader to not simply walk up a mountain, but rather to ‘walk into it.’  Likewise, Rose Strang immerses the viewer close up and personal within this surreal landscape.  

Dreaming a response to this meditative, soulful memoir, Rose Strang’s lyrical landscapes translate the prose with such ice-cool clarity, enriching, painterly poems in tribute to Nan’s beloved mountains.  

The Living Mountain: Dreaming a Response – paintings by Rose Strang

The Heriot Gallery, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh in collaboration with The Limetree Gallery, Bristol

 April 17th to April 23rd 2023. Open: Tues-Fri, 10am-5pm. Sat. 10am-4pm.

An accompanying Video of artwork and photography features a stunning musical soundtrack by Atzi Muramatzu.

The iconic image of Nan Shepherd amidst her beloved Cairngorm mountains

Tags: , , , ,

About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

2 responses to “Rose Strang: ‘The Living Mountain: Dreaming a Response’ – luminous, painterly poems capture the wildness of nature @ Heriot Gallery, Edinburgh”

  1. rosestrang says :

    Vivien, this is such a beautiful, descriptive response to the paintings, thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: