The Black Isle Collective: Deasoil ~ Walking with the Sun from East to West

10-06-2023 - 05-07-2023

Compass Gallery exhibits and promotes artists from all across Scotland, many of whom have few opportunities to exhibit in the main city centre galleries. We are pleased to introduce our audiences to the works of this group of artists based in the Black Isle.

“The Black Isle Collective are a group of six visual artists from the Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland, brought together by shared inspirations. Their intention in exhibiting as a collective is to provide an opportunity to create work that spurs a dialogue between artists and viewers, around themes such as place, ecology, and identity.

This exhibition’s title, Deasoil, is taken from Amanda Thomson’s ‘A Scots Dictionary of Nature’. It means ‘walking with the sun from east to west’. Through Painting, Drawing, Poetry, and Sculpture each artist takes us on a journey, to explore what it is to inhabit their physical and imagined space, alone and together”.

Exhibiting artists:
Anita Murray, Kathleen Madigan, Alice Taylor, Rosie Newman, Izzy Thomson, Rachel Bevan Baker.

Rachel Bevan Baker — Artist’s Statement:

"I am happily absorbed when studying the world of faces and objects around me. Humble things such as a jade plant given to me by a sister, the printed fabric on a hand-me-down, an online snap from a travelling relative - I enjoy drawing these familiar objects or faces and by doing so, making connections with family, present and past. I love to work in layers and mix media, incorporating
patterns/motifs which allow me to explore and travel with them in an imaginary sense".

Kathleen Madigan - Artist’s Statement:

"Born in the USA, I have been living in the Highlands off and on for over 30 years. It truly has my heart and is my home. I studied art as an adult student at Georgia State University and moved to the UK in 1991.

Recently, I have been focusing on drawing both quick portraits and small works on paper, along with writing poetry.

In truth, everything I make: the growing of an allotment garden, learning new skills in writing and making artist books, the drawing, and the poetry are bound by a distinct observe, celebrate and be with the beauty of the natural world; to celebrate it and to appreciate it in a concrete, creative way.

It is utterly delightful to be a part of 'the Black Isle Collective'. We grow in strength and friendship every year and our work benefits from our individual and eclectic experiences".

Anita Murray - Artist's Statement:

"From as far back as I can remember, I have MADE – dolls and their houses, family magazines and books, clothes, quilts, big jumpers, gardens, homes, food, poems, music, art... (It goes without saying I have been unmade and dismantled a few times as well!)

The wellspring of all this making is the same, whether I'm teaching music, drawing, assembling a collage, dancing or gardening. I am by nature solitary, drawn to that place of 'unknowing' behind the everyday. My approach is intuitive, sparked by play and experiment.

Whatever the medium I choose, (drawing, collage, sound, film, installation) I love to build layers using found materials - covering, removing, revealing, taking risks and being open to surprises.

My process can, I suppose, be summed up as 'I trust something will happen...' I have an Iranian Armenian background, born in Nigeria and educated by French nuns in Tehran. I studied languages, psychology and music in the UK – and (eventually!) fine art at Edinburgh College of Art once my three children had grown up. Along the way I trained as a Shiatsu therapist and translated and published Persian poetry. All these life accidents, gifts and events have inevitably fed into my artwork at different times and in different ways.

My pieces for this exhibition are all mixed media and collage. There is a tension between my love of exploring surface – pattern, design, texture – and my longing to trawl more deeply, to touch something in the hidden in-between places. Curiosity (the endless 'what ifs') and hunger drive me on... My process in these works has been one of excavation – a very physical as well as emotional engagement with my materials.

Each piece is a record of time. Time passing, time captured in a surface - layered, peeled back, gouged and scraped...revisited over many months, years even. And each visible surface is an arrival, a moment when eye and heart align and an inner geometry acknowledged.

The 'I' I bring to my work table every day is made new every day.
Making art for me is painful, joyous – and necessary".

Rosie Newman - Artist's Statement:

“Through my expressive paintings and prints, on display, I hope to offer viewers a profound exploration of Scotland's diverse landscapes. My artwork navigates between intimate close-up studies and expansive panoramic vistas, showcasing the ever-changing nature of the land, sea, and sky. For this exhibition, I use a combination of paint, printing, and mixed media, to create a visual narrative that transports viewers to imagined habitats, with an aim to evoke a sense of reverence for the ever-shifting landscapes that surround us. I am interested in how art can blend the boundaries between reality and imagination resonating with a sense of transience, fluidity, and transformation”.

Alice V. Taylor - Artist’s Statement:

"My work is inspired by the landscapes of home. The fields and sheds of the Black-Isle are the repeated motifs through out this body of work, reflecting the farming industry of the rural Highlands. I am interested in the block shapes created by these symbols of agriculture and the way in which they allow me to play with colour combinations. I am interested in colours’ ability to change a familiar landscape into something ‘other’. I primarily develop work from drawings that I make on location and allow my memory of the place, as well as colour relationships in paint, to dictate the final outcome of a finished work. My background as a printmaker influences me to think about the layering of colour, as I would with multi-plate, multi-coloured etchings. At this present moment, the strong colours I am using represent being present and unashamedly bold and to the foreground".

Izzy Thomson - Artist’s Statement:

"I am a Visual Artist from the Highlands of Scotland. I create narrative paintings and one-stop animations based on my experiences of wild places, and the stories that have happened within them. As well as their fairy-tale-like allure, my paintings are rooted in reality. I am inspired by custodianship of nature and look for landscapes that reflect this- places that are biodiverse, resilient, and healing. In the studio, I reconstruct the topographies of those places to make pictorial spaces that set the scene for a story and invite the viewer into a ‘tapsalteerie’ world, one that is wild, enchanting, and possible. Through the magic of a painted surface, I hope to explore how visual storytelling and imagination can help connect to the local ecology and rekindle a misplaced sensitivity to our living world".