Fresh for her successful exhibition at Simonstone Hall in Wensleydale, The Old School Muker is very pleased to welcome the wonderful, abstract landscapes of Gill Waugh.
Gill’s work take us from the Yorkshire Dales to the Outer Hebrides, invoking the moods, atmosphere and beauty, they both share, lovingly worked in acrylic and ink …
… and the vibrant, abstract, style adds another stunning dimension to the range of work we showcase at The Old School.
Richard & Polly
Gill’s Artist Statement
The dreamlike mists on my home loch and the light and dark of our amazing weather are a constant source of wonder and inspiration; in the Yorkshire Dales, magical low-lying evening light draws me back time and time again, as do empty wet stretches of silvery sand in the Outer Hebrides…
I hope my work conveys the emotion I feel whilst looking at the subject – and that I’ve tried to record that delight when I’m back in my studio.
I create abstract landscapes, taking from the natural textures and colours which move me – whether it’s lichen on an ancient tree or feathery weed swirling in the clear water of our loch. I take endless closeup photos of such treasures and refer to them, initially, for inspiration in my paintings. I work by building up many layers of acrylic paint and letting brilliant inks flow into the textured surfaces – the chemistry between water-based and waterproof media is fascinating; although they repel each other at first, they come together as they dry, forming complex and organic patterns.
Twelve favourite images from 2016; an unforgettable year of travel that took us to Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the Isle of Harris in Scotland, and the Himalaya of Nepal, but begins with two shots of my home county of Yorkshire, England.
In order taken … click on a the image to see the bigger picture …
1. Hole of Horcum, North York Moors, England. Shot in the winter on the drive home from Whitby, East to West across the North York Moors, and perhaps the only photo of the Hole of Horcum that doesn’t feature the Hole.
2. Saltburn Pier, North Yorkshire, England A flip of a coin decision somewhere in the Winter desolation of the North York Moors took us to Saltburn, and a perfect sunset as the tide receded. When your lucks in …
3. Utakleiv Beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway. A million photographers on the beach sent me stomping up the sand in search of solitude and a clear shot. All I found was a pile of lumpy old rocks!
4. Olstind, Lofoten, Norway. Leaving it as late as ever it became a race against the storm, wading through two foot deep snow to find a spot that pointed up the valley. We won by five minutes!
5. Pipework, The RERF, Leeds. An odd shot to throw in, but an image that perhaps only the Merrill with its extraordinary tonal range could take, and the culmination of a year long project to photograph the build.
6. Boat & House, Isle of Harris, Scotland. A mouldy old boat, a broken down croft and a dull, wet, miserable day; anywhere else awful, on the isle of Harris, wonderful.
7. The Gloaming, Isle of Harris, Scotland. The rooftops of Northton silhouetted against the bay, then out over the sea to the mountains of Harris. Not such a bad midnight view.
8. Soul Machine, Wakefield, England. Discovered in the middle of a farmyard machinery graveyard on a local walk, the truck has seen better days, but wears it’s scars with dignity and soul.
9. Himalayan Mountain Stream, Nepal. A rock, water and time, combine to create an example of nature’s perfection.
10. Himalaya Trail, Nepal. A line of Mani stones stretches along a tree-lined, sandy trail, overlooked by the sacred mountain of Kumbila shrouded by cloud ; a microcosm of everything I loved about Nepal.
11. Suspension Bridge, Nepal: A texture and detail of Nepal; the polished slats of a metal footbridge suspended 30 meters above the turbulent, mountain river, captured in Foveon detail by the Sigma DP3 Merrill.
12. Mountain Sunrise, Nepal. Not many things are worth climbing out of a nice, warm bed for, but this was one; truly a jewel on a crown.
“I don’t get it” snorted the women passing our Artsmix stall last Saturday. “It’s a boat and a house, I don’t get it!”. “It’s art” I said. “It’s autistic” she replied. “I don’t get it” she repeated to her friends shaking her head as she walked off, “it’s just a boat and a house” and that, I suppose, was me told.
But I love this image. I love the colours and contrast in the stone. I love the symmetry of the picture juxtaposed with the irregularity of the stonework. I love the tones in the boat. I love the sense of age and decay and mood. I love the sense of place and time, and times past. I love the gradual reclaiming of human habitation and activity by nature. I love that in a 100, 200, 500 and 1000 years, the essence of the scene will remain the same, but the man made objects will erode, whilst nature exerts her ultimate authority.
So who’s right, me with my over analysis and poetic pretensions, or the lady with her no nonsense, straight forwardness? Well I guess we both are. Art is subjective after all!
“It’s the journey that counts, not the destination”.
If your destination is the Isle of Harris in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides there’s good grounds to say sod the journey, catch a plane to Stornaway, and be sitting in the dunes of Luskentyre before you can say “Traigh an Taoibh Thuath”.
… but by taking the quick way you might just be missing out …
Over five days of travelling Polly’s Slow Way took us back to old favourites – Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Elgol, Sligachan, and Eilean Donan; and for us new discoveries – Glenfinnan & Loch Sheil, Arisaig, Isleornsay & the Quiraing on Skye. As is so often the case on our travels the highlight was a random, spur of the moment detour, to kill time before our ferry left for Skye. From Arisaig we took a single track road to Rhumach, discovering calm, sheltered, “tropical” bays, pebble beaches, rocky outcrops pushing into the sea, and views out to Eigg, Rum, and to the distant Cuillin on Skye. We had just a few minutes to sit by the shore and take in the views before climbing back into the car, but we’ll be sure to return and stay for a while on our next slow journey up the West Coast.
Wow, crossing from East to West on our journey from the ferry at Talbert to Northton on the A859 and suddenly there’s Luskentyre right in front of you, white sands, emerald sea, a stunning introduction to the beaches of Harris.
Over the next six days I tried to capture just a hint, a smell, a touch of their beauty, but ultimately headed home defeated. Whether it was due to weather, or timing, or lack of creativity, or an unfamiliarity with the landscape, or lack of technique, I don’t know, but it was certainly not through a lack of inspiration.
But no photographic series on Harris would be complete without a shot of a beach so some feeble attempts and holiday snaps follow.
If you want to see some photos that do the place justice take a look at Ian Lawson’s Harris Tweed @ http://www.ianlawson.com/prints/outer-hebrides/ . Better still go along if Ian has another exhibition.
The shots above are taken with the Sony RX1rII or Sigma Merrill or Sigma Quattro cameras, post processed in Lightroom.
Get up. Make cup of tea. Drink cup of tea. Shorts, trainers, t-shirt, hat on. Camera in rucksack. Rucksack on. Stretch. Down the track from the cottage to the Northton’s main street. Turn left. Past the houses. Past Croft 36, excellent buns. Past the Temple Cafe, excellent food. Past the lane to the beach. Through the gate. Onto the machair. Harassed by Redshanks protecting chicks. Right. Onto the sands of Traigh an Taoibh Thuath. Aim toward the sea. Onto Scarista. Follow water’s edge out across the bay. Meet sand dunes. Find gap in fence and right onto the A859. Past grazing cattle. Round the corner. Up the hill. Turn right back onto Norton’s main street. Complete the loop. Stop to take photos whenever needed.
Not the most conventional approach to photography I admit, and I’m unsure it will catch on, but you do cover some ground, it’s a great excuse to take break in the middle of a run, and it’s only possible because the Sony is so small and light!
Returning from Lewis in the North to Harris in the South, and to our base in Northton, we took the Golden Road, avoiding the fertile Machair and white beaches of the West coast in favour of the barren landscape of the East.
Down this coastline the land is unforgiving, a thin covering of earth icing over the bedrock lying inches below the surface. It may be beautiful but few people would chose to scratch a living here, but then few had a choice after the forced evictions of the Clearances.
The single track strip of tarmac twisted around sheltered sea inlets, lochans full of water lilies, grey rocky outcrops and abandoned crofts; driving required full concentration and focus – why do you always meet an oncoming vehicle on a blind bend?
As we wound slowly on the weather closed in, obscuring our view, and the rain tipped down as it only can on Scotland’s West Coast. A quick glance at the map and we couldn’t believe our lack of progress South, having driven what seemed many miles and for over an hour.
With my mind tired after a full days driving we swapped seats. Polly drove and I gazed through the passenger window through the haze of rain at the passing landscape. It was the buildings that took my eye; signs of human habitation scattered down the coastline.
An old red telephone box, a long abandoned croft complete with decaying boat, a red tin roof, a wooden bridge crossing a brook, houses dotted along the coastline, the boat builders yard.
… And so every so often we stopped, and I took another photo, and ran back to the car to shelter from the rain.
Looking at the images afterwards, the thing that’s striking is the buildings’ temporary nature; the total lack of impact on the landscape. If a giant bent down and lifted them away, the land would be what it was a thousand years ago, and what it will be in another thousand years.
The only thing left would be the road, a permanent scar down the East Coast, a permanent reminder people once made their home here.
“I spent many hours and drove many miles, chasing the perfect scene and perfect light, only to find it was right there in front of me all along”.
During our six days on the Isle of Harris I fell in love with the view from our window. Past the fence that marked the boundary of the croft; over the rooftops of Northton, beyond the fertile machair and the lagoon and sands of Traigh an Taoibh Thuath, and out over the sea to the distant mountains that dotted the horizon.
The scene was ever changing: every day, ever hour, every minute, natures rhythms offered a different picture. South Westerlies driving the weather from our back; the spur of bright, yellow, sand expanding and contracting with the tide; mountains clear as a bell one instant lost in mist in another; the hazy sunshine of midday transforming into the gloaming of midnight.
For six days the television remained unplugged, books left unread, music set to silent, games unplayed, our view offering all the entertainment we needed.
And on the sixth and final day we became a part of the scene, before heading for the ferry, to Skye, and onwards to home.
Rifling through past images to print for our last Leeds Artsmix market before Christmas I came across two photos of Lochan na h-Achliase, taken over five years ago with my trusty Nikon D700. I must have shot them to stitch together into a panoramic, but it’s taken me until now get around to it. Still, better late than never!