We live in a part of Scotland that is steeped in early Christian history and while I have not yet found any organised religion that I can get jiggy with, I am fascinated with faith and belief. In particular, I have always been intrigued (and truth be told, rather awed) by the journeys that pilgrims took and continue to take.
The idea of making a journey, enduring hardship or struggle, but ultimately reaching a place of peace or redemption is such a universal metaphor for life and crosses boundaries to appear in just about any religion or mythology you can think of. I can certainly relate it to aspects of my own life and in many ways I have reached a place of peace. In other ways, I have a whole new struggle ahead of me and must continue to have faith.
St Ninian’s Cave near Whithorn has long been a place of pilgrimage and if you visit today, you can see that it still is. Coins are pushed into crevices in the rocks, stones are left with crosses carved into them or prayers written on them, rudimentary wooden crosses are propped up on ledges and when we last visited there were several larger crosses around the site. It is impossible not to be touched by the echoes of the people who have visited this place, whatever your views on the beliefs that brought them there.
So it is this landscape and history that has inspired my latest paintings, a body of work that I am calling the Whithorn Series, a mixture of abstract and expressive paintings which started with this one – a large mixed media piece (approx 18 x 24 inches unframed).
The abstract paintings below followed as response to the physical act of walking to St Ninian’s Cave. The path takes you through woodland and down onto a very stony beach and I found myself reflecting with gratitude on my ability to put one foot in front of the other.
It is almost impossible to capture these colours accurately. I tried scanning them and they came out completely wrong. The pink is almost a fluorescent colour and I’m guessing that the scanner doesn’t have the right kind of light to capture it properly. The camera gets closer, but in reality, those pops of colour really bring the paintings to life.
Finally, this series of paintings are studies of aspects of the cave itself, including a verdigris copper coin stuck fast in the cave wall and the cross on the hill outside. These paintings mainly use a traditional earthy palette so they have scanned well.
All of these are going to be on show in the Whithorn Visitor Centre in Whithorn from Thursday 26th May and will be available for sale there for about four weeks. If there’s anything that you are particularly interested in, do get in touch for more details.
Here’s a gallery view of all the paintings before they were framed. I’ll try to get a photo in situ once they have been hung as they do look better in their frames. You can click on an image for a larger view, then use the arrows to scroll through the gallery.
So if you are out and about in the Whithorn area, why not pop in to the visitor centre (where you will also find some yummy cakes) and take a look. These (or prints if the originals have sold) will also be part of my display at the Whithorn Arts & Crafts Trail in July which is the 16th & 17th July.
You can find my artwork and prints for sale at www.portpatrickstudios.com and you can stay up to date by visiting my art Facebook page or my personal Facebook page. I would also be flattered if you choose to share my artwork or blog posts on social media.