An exhibition of iconic Hebridean landscapes by Ron Lawson @ Alpha Gallery, Edinburgh: tranquil, timeless islands of wild scenic beauty
Before the flurry of exhibitions opening for the Edinburgh Festival season, do visit Alpha Gallery in Stockbridge to see this exhibition of paintings and prints by Ron Lawson, running from Saturday 13th July to Sunday 4th August, 2019.
A walk around the gallery will take you on an exhilarating wilderness “cruise” around the Hebrides from Barra to Tiree, Eriskay to South Uist and other islands in this archipelago off the North West coast of Scotland.
As you will see from these quirky, cool illustrations of cottages and crofts, the iconic subject matter is always recognisable as a unique Ron Lawson landscape. Surrounded by a complete barren, emptiness of the rural setting, each building is perched beside a rocky shore, a cold splash of blue sea, machair grasses, sandy beaches ..
……….or perhaps a glimpse of a lost flock of sheep.
What is so distinctive about these panorama views is the swirling sweep of a dramatic, dark sky all around; the pure grey background accentuates the white stone of buildings, rocks and sheep, as the central focus of the picture.
A thundery sky is artistic licence! For those enticed to visit, warm sunshine is often experienced here due to the gulf stream with turquoise blue water reminiscent of the Caribbean. In fact an Asian tourism advert used an image of a Berneray seascape to promote Kai Bae beach, Thailand.!
Lawson spends a few months each Spring exploring a few of these islands, camera and pencil in hand to spot a selection of these charming wee houses with coloured slate, tiled and thatched roofs. Whether these are empty, abandoned, working crofts, a boatshed or family home, there’s no indication of humanity, perpetuating the extraordinary wildnerness isolation of these communities.
With an uncanny, realistic perspective of each landscape, they capture, with real compassion, a haunting sense of Hebridean life and heritage as well as the natural, unchanging scenic beauty. While wildlife is not a signature topic, keep a beady open for a cheeky Puffin making an appearance too.
It’s the stunning quality and masterly craftsmanhip of Ron Lawson’s artwork which appeals to collectors both in Scotland and worldwide. This is a most inspiring showcase of richly evocative, atmospheric scenes, island-hopping around the Outer Hebrides – a tranquil, timeless painterly destination.
Ron Lawson: A Solo Exhibition of Original Works
Saturday 13th July to Sunday 4th August, 2019
Alpha Gallery, 52 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AX
Open daily, 1100 to 1700 (or by appointment)
Tel. 0131 226 3066 E. firstname.lastname@example.org
I first came across the beautifully crafted and atmospheric landscapes of the Scottish Borders by Rose Strang when she exhibited her work at Whitespace Gallery, Howe Street, Edinburgh in July 2015.
At the time, I wrote: “There’s a distinctive sense of physically being outside in the open air as you study each canvas; it’s the subtlety of thin shards of sunlight through leaves as well as such a realistic perspective of each landscape”.
Rose is clearly inspired by the sense of place, the outdoor natural world and wide open spaces. This exhibition of new paintings, entitled Moonscapes, is based on her journey this summer to the Isle of Harris, the Outer Hebrides…..certainly a painterly destination for a breath of fresh air and stunning scenic views of mountains and seashore.
Before I describe the artworks, this is a fascinating story. Take a look at this photograph.
The white sands and gently lapping turquoise sea at Kai Bae Beach, Thailand looks like heaven on earth.
There is just one problem. The photograph is actually of West Beach on the beautiful, but slightly cooler, island of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. Instead of sending a photographer to Kai Bae, Thailand tourism simply Googled images of idyllic beaches and borrowed one of Berneray. The sand dunes and calm azure water may look tropical, but distant Harris hills and a lack of coconut palms is not Thailand!
The diverse scenery around Harris is simply stunning and certainly an artist’s paradise.
Take a tour around Harris to view the lush, languid beauty of Luskentyre Bay with its iconic undulating dunes of pure white sand, etched with wild machair grasses along the shore.
A totally different terrain is experienced on the east coast of the island where you’ll find a rugged, rocky, raw and wild seascape. Rose must have studied each place for hours to capture the change of light from dawn to dusk. As the title suggests, there are delicate scenes of lochs and distant hills bathed in soft moonlight.
What is especially creative is the method by which thick brushstrokes of oil, perhaps with the addition of grass or sand added, (similar to the masterstroke by Joan Eardley) to create a realistic aspect to denote the texture and tone of the natural environment on the canvas.
Colour palette is muted but again, natural, with blends of turquoise and navy blue to show the shallow and deep water of the sea, matched by the bracken brown and sage green shades of wild flowers and foliage.
The paintings range from large landscapes to miniature vignettes, but all composed with extraordinary detail, especially the study and movement of waves and clouds.
What I admire about Rose’s briskly painted, sketchy style of land and seascapes, is that they are purposely not photographic. A Kodak or digital image represents the accuracy of a scene, but not the atmospheric mood, the gentle graduation of light and shade.
This is the work of someone who is totally absorbed by what she sees, and with the astute eye of an artist, is able to present a fresh, impressionistic clarity of vision.
Just like her paintings of the Borders, here again you really feel that you are standing there on the beach or wild moorland on the Isle of Harris. Catch the whiff of the salt sea air, the warmth of the sun or chill breeze of late evening – as you walk around the gallery.
Moonscapes: Isle of Harris by Rose Strang
14 – 20 July, 2017
Whitespace Gallery, East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ
If you cannot visit the gallery this week, do take a look at her website for images and information: