1. a current of water below the surface and moving in a different direction from any surface current.
2. an implicit quality, emotion, or influence underlying the superficial aspects of something and leaving a particular impression.
I grew up in the Western Isles, and am drawn to exploring the space and light which is particular to these islands. I am largely led by the pursuit of ‘memory places’ and aim to evoke a sense of place through fluid paint effects which combine with graphic elements of annotation – the visual language of mapping, measuring and music. Grids, staves, elements of maps and tide tables recur in my work.
Where works have titles referring to specific locations, the intention is to draw on personal connections to these places in order to explore wider themes. My intention is not to render the topography of a landscape but to explore in a more abstracted way the relationship between the individual and the landscape that has shaped them, something you carry with you – a ‘geography of the mind’. My work suggests liminal spaces, edges, tidal lines – always shifting.
I am continually inspired by relationships between the written word – poetry in particular – and image, and some paintings have titles responding to works by Kenneth White, and the Sufi poet, Rumi for example. Iain Crichton Smith’s poem ‘Lewis’ goes some way to expressing the preoccupations in my work:
‘It follows me, that black island without ornament,
Which I am always questioning….
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,
My music is the music of your stones, …
You are the book which I always study
In sunsets over the Minch,
You are my gaunt theme, my poem which burns in water.’
The landscape of the Outer Hebrides and the melancholic ‘island exile’ in song and poetry is well known, but I seek to respond to and challenge this with a deeper exploration of identity – related to the language of mapping. Going beyond the surface is important to me, and the intention is for the work to reveal itself slowly.
‘Morrison’s thoughtful, contemplative works really capture the essence of the Highlands and Islands landscape, influenced by Kenneth White’s Geopoetical theory. … There is fluidity and formality in her technique which is beautifully balanced and her response to the Highland landscape is refreshing and inspired. This work is not about surfaces but understanding…’ Georgina Coburn
Mary Morrison :: Undertow :: 2 – 27 November 2019
Solo Exhibition :: &Gallery, Edinburgh.