My thanks to the team at Grampian Hospitals Arts Trust, I enjoyed hanging the work with you. It was also great to talk to a number of hospital visitors during the hang, 'The Meiklian Project' is of course about the North East landscape that we have shared. For patients, staff and visitors I hope that my works can transfer some of the light and inspiration I have found from our archetypal mountain goddess Bennachie, the forgotten energies of the recumbent stone circles and the landscape of time twisted birch, pine and hazel. The exhibtion is runs until the 21st of July and features the recently reworked 'Forest Magick' and a number of pieces from the last few years.
Relic of Origins: Horse is going to be showing alongside 25 other intriguing artists from the 21st of June to the 8th of October at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield. A great opportunity to bring an old relic of the Meiklian culture into the public domain. The space ship may holographically project all who behold back to the time of stone circle wizardry!
2- 6 May, Rediscover: The Torrie Collection, 3 May, special event
Rediscover: The Torrie Collection
Tuesday - Saturday
Objects from across the University’s collections will join the Torrie Collection this week as part of an innovative project for postgraduate students. Now in its third year, Rediscover: The Torrie Collection enables students to put their History of Art learning into practice to create public displays. Supported by the University Art Collection and with contemporary curatorial steer from Talbot Rice Gallery, the displays foreground fresh perspectives on The Torrie Collection, opening out expansive narratives about curiosity, possession and the endurance of classical themes.
Wednesday 3 May, from 3pm
Join us for a drink on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the Torrie Collection exhibition, now in its final week. You are welcome to join Neil Lebeter, Art Collections Curator for the University of Edinburgh, at 3pm for an informal introduction to the exhibition. Short speeches at 4pm will then draw attention to the impact of the project, the catalogue launched with the exhibition and the Rediscover: The Torrie Collection projects.
I went for a Caledonian Pinewood quest in late November. It was crisp and chilly, but as often the case in these wilder woods, a sense of warmth emanated from the lilac orange trunks of the old pine trees. Memories of warm resinous heady smells of summer. It was my third adventure in the Glen Derry/ Glen Luibeg in the past year, I have found the pine woods - tucked away behind a fold in the glen - to be a magnet, the sense of quiet stillness and wild beauty addictive, often I hear the faint calling of this place whispering softly on the cold north wind. The path was VERY slippery with melted and re frozen ice so I took that as a sign to do what I like best in these woods- to get off the path and wander around, looking for that illusive goddess - Inspiration - in her robes woven of archaic pine wisdom, soft snow capped looming mountains and an amazing golden adn deep blue winter light. I came across a few black grouse and before I scared them by clumsily photographing them at great distance, they scratched around the pine needles, it was beautiful and reminded me of my impermanence there...Their life in those hills. On this occasion I wanted to pursue the route through Glen Lui to the start of the ascent of Ben Macdui, I didn't have the time or the light for a mountain ascent. However I am often caught with a fulfilled sense of achievement just looking at the woods and feeling the nowness of it all, many moments of insight found up and out there. I was struck by the number of pine snags (dead gray wood often simplified by branches which have fallen), each snag was twisted like a cork screw, the trees spiraling growth seems like an energy cord frozen in time and now decaying back into the heather clad moory mountainside. A lot of regeneration has been taking place in the area which is great and these young trees lighten my somber thoughts on the old snags. Those piney witchy hags wands pointing and the yawning at the abyss like old wintery fingers. Great sunsets and solitary darkness descended on my return to the road home.
My work had a major inspirational kick from this expansive wood when I spent a solitary week at the Inschriach Bothy Project. It was great to return to this landscape, the scale of continuous indigenous forest is very immersive, I love being in the depths of a lilac trunked forest. Since the residency I have learned much about the ecology and variations of Scotland's pinewoods and on this visit I felt that less cultivated round topped canopies of old wood remnants were not very expansive. However a few areas I had visited previously up on the slopes felt wild, and the remnant around Lochan Uaine was incredibly beautiful. The numerous juniper was juniper an excellent bonsai forest to enjoy and I did hear and see highland parrot, the Red Cross Bill.
I'm really excited to be part of the Syn Festival's Metamorphosis exhibition in Edinburgh, opening this Thursday 9th of March!
Details can be found at this link:
open until the 19th of FEB
I'm excited to be showing work alongside four other inspiring artists at the Royal Scottish Academy's exhibition 'The Artist Traveller' from this Saturday, 12 of November. Studies from my time during the Bothy Project, Inschriach and two night sky works (inspired by the hypnotic pine studded knolls and the cosmic voids above our heads) shall be on show, one of which 'Astral Abyss', will be on show for the first time! Click the image for more info
New show of Irvine and Noble work, on show until the end of Edinburgh Festival. You can find our drawings in the 'drawings' section of this site. /
'Before the Stones' was recently featured in the Aberdeen Evening Express
Really excited about my upcoming show, the first time the Meiklian Project will be shown in Aberdeen, the nearest city to that mythical and mystical ancient landscape which is dominated and anchored by the earth goddess Bennachie.
Over summer I have been an intern with rewilding charity Trees for Life, this has been an amazingly informative and inspiring experience which has deepened my knowledge of the magical highlands. I have taken over 1000 photographs of the Caledonian forest and so expect a lot of drawings trees over the next months. Click the calm pine lined lochan to read my text on Trees for Life's website, I have also pasted my words below.
This summer I had the fortunate opportunity to join Trees for Life as their Photo Library Intern.
My time was spent looking at and organising thousands of photographs taken by the staff at Trees for Life and by professional photographers. I soon realised my task was rather daunting, however on a daily basis I found relief and enjoyment as I learnt about the ecology of the Caledonian forest and discovered new pinewood remnants which I would later visit and explore.
The respected ethos of Trees for Life, restoring the Scottish wilderness, resonates with my art practice, where I have created an alternative historical narrative describing an ancient magical Aberdeenshire. The visual work is concerned with generating a radical contemporary myth, depicting a sacred archaic landscape full of spiritual energy, and its eventual demise through the affects of human civilization beginning with the dawn of agriculture.
Last December during a solitary artist's residency at the Inschriach Bothy I felt a powerful connection to the Caledonian forest. I spent my days in awe as I wandered through different areas of the Glenmore, Glen Feshie and Rothiemurcus forests.
Over the summer I used my Northern location to frequently visit the Glen Affric area, often camping at Cannich to extend my time. I've been fascinated by the unique ambience which I have experienced in different places. My desire to get off of the main paths as quickly as possible showed me the micro world of hummocked ground flora, the soft lush leafy birchwood and the lofty majestic pinewood.
Entranced whilststood looking across a gorge at the white water stripes of Badger Falls and noticed an impressive stand of Aspen trembling in the breeze. On another occasion I felt like a giant, roaming through beautiful stunted bonsai bog pinewoods, whilst looking down upon rainbows somewhere between Cairn Fiaclach and Loch Amair. I was at peace on a pine studded knoll as warm scented air blew through the lilac trunks. Later beside Lochan a Chlaidheimh under a gnarled veteran Birch I was gripped by terror as I looked down to find my t-shirt was covered in a mass of black midge. During my most recent trip up to Creag na Callich I exchanged glances with the old hag herself and as I sheltered from the wintery rain under an avenue of granny pines, I was certain I could hear gaelic jeers and taunts blowing in the wind.
I was unable to draw from observation whilst wandering in the landscape, the midge act a bit like the wolf would to the Red Deer; driving me onwards, sweating and never able to over graze a good view or contemplative spot. I've found that working from good photographs is beneficial whilst working in my studio back in Edinburgh; in a way it's like I haven't left those memorable walks and moments of insight; I can meditate on the scenes for many hours whilst drawing, 100% midge free!
During my time with Trees for life my knowledge and understanding of the Caledonian forest has grown. I became deeply connected to the energy of the ancient woodland which I encountered, they instilled a beautiful sense of oneness within me; on many levels I have felt awe in the landscape which at special times gave glimpses into an other and absolute reality. The ongoing myth which I create within my art practice will soon have a new chapter to it, featuring humble modern people planting trees and putting back the magic that was almost lost.
It was great to have my work alongside other visionaries and creative outsiders, although I have been milled through art college education I still strongly identify with outsider art aesthetics and self taught approach.
I had a paradigm shifting week at the Inshriach Bothy Project in December last year, click the granny pine to see my images and text on the Bothy Project page. I have copied my summary of the experience and posted it below!
To escape… to escape the throbbing geometric city, to escape the patchwork of cultivated fields, to escape the shrunken islands of hemmed in woodland. Drive over the hills and far away to a northern place where the land’s ancient forest remains. Direct descendants of the first trees to arrive after miles thick glaciers gauged the earth goddess into her current form, forever changed from her forgotten deep time geography.
Alone in the birch and juniper wood, in a hut of warmth and solitude I had escaped what I wished to leave behind. Yet I could feel as the half moon rose and the cosmic night sky yawned wide open, that I had come to charged ground, a placeto confront myself and encounter something profound.
Oh mysterious majestic forest…Oh mysterious majestic…Emerald green glowing ember canopy, bathed by inner light. Sunburst orange trunks twisting and buckling tracing the Tao of time. Orifice puckered lilac lower trunks, eyes staring through layered amethyst bark skin. Coiled iron serpent knotted roots. Granny Pine wisdom tethered to the black earth mother. Deep pine needle carpet. Follow the wandering deer path and take me to nowhere, boulder clusters and heather micro landscapes. High hiss drones of stone carving streams …Oh mysterious majestic forest…Oh mysterious majestic!.…
Tree after tree I would stand and stare, beholding their comparative perpetuity, their old wisdom. Once I was startled from such a meditation by a whirring cheering sort of chant, I peered round the trunk warily. A dancing line of red and blue wee folk, then chains and chains of them dancing in mesmerising circles, clearly focused on the rhythm of their song. ‘They must not spot me’, I thought… But of course they did… Time stood still and off we went down and under a pine studded knowe… Vague memories… the deep bass throb of a belching engine, I was being shown around the elven city , details of a scaled surface, polished barbed interlocking surfaces, a three eyed coiled up wildcat ready to pounce, menace and ineffable beauty. The Celtic crone hovered over me, yammering away freely switching between Irish and Scottish accents. The air became dense with translucent filmy membranes, it was hard to breathe. The air, popped, hummed and fizzed. Unfettered ontolology blew away in the otherworldy wind… I awoke with a start, buzzards wheeling above, I found a hazel wand clutched in my hand.
A figure felt in the darkening woods. Phallic columns of the archaic temple arched up and over into fractal dome, an explosion of flame orange heavy limbs and green fire quartz…. Oh mysterious majestic forest…A crack of a branch ahead, then a thundering beat as the Capercaillie launches to fly heavily across my path. Clear crystal lochans, jewels on the majestic mountain. Forest walking by moon light, ‘the fear’ pushed through. More lochs with branches dipping into the reflected star encrusted abyss.
Finally a road, a road to somewhere, hopefully back to the start. I eventually look down across the pond to the farm yard and the familiar walk back through the Inschriach Estate. The Spey’s gentle roar cleanses me before I turn up towards the hut, I gather a few logs in the gloom to light a glowing fire, heat a meal and spend the candle lit evening drawing the days profound adventures.
I’m showing at the Kinblethmont Gallery in Arbroath from the 24th of May until the 8th of June. The exhibition is showing the 6 past RSA William Littlejohn Award winners which means it will have some interesting approaches and works.
Come along and see new work created with the help of the RSA William Littlejohn Award !