'Stewards of the Undying Deer Cult Series: The Problem of the Glen'. Ink on Board. 41.5 x 67 cm. (for sale, email if interested)
Inspired by Edwin Landseer's 'Monarch of the Glen', which is now part of the #ScotNatGallery, who describe it evasively as 'for many people it encapsulates the grandeur and majesty of Scotland’s highlands and wildlife'. A nice gloss but as a man of the Scottish woods, so much is missing. No mention of the bald majestic highland's habitat destruction and deforestation caused by an increase in deer numbers. Nothing of our bizarre fixation which drove those numbers to increase, the cult of the wealthy to shoot for 'sport' and stuff the obligatory dead horned head on a wall. This incredible yet totally passive animal (herds swollen to long term habitat destruction) is venerated as the 'prize' while the old wild gods such as wolf, bear, lynx and boar are now allowed on the land in placenames only (positively the beaver has just had it's citizenship restored).
The red deer were a later wave of profitable killable lawnmowers, the first were the sheep which helped the clearances, both of these ungulates eat saplings which if left unchallenged for 250 years will stop any new trees from growing, therefore not allowing any old woodlands to regenerate.
Judge me by how many points my deadhead has (24), Landseer's had 12, making it a 'royal' stag by someone's account.
Thoughts such as these bubbled up regularly as part of the #rahoyhillsreserve residency, a rewilding nature reserve with far too many deer on it, however I think about these things whenever I drive to the remote isolated pockets of true highland majesty that still grow, where (for usually only a few square miles) one can be surrounded by the old forest, where some old wilderness can still be glimpsed, the one we almost destroyed completely.