The Fabric of the Land
This gallery charts the first fifteen years of my experience of settling in to this corner of Assynt, in the North West Highlands of Scotland. It includes examples of the development of my textile work, through mark-making in dye, print and stitch. Early work is predominantly representational in the form of collaged images of the landscape, but later work contains more drawing and reveals signs of the shift towards the abstract, a result of having internalised the character of my surroundings and going deeper in my connection to the land.
With every year spent living here, over and again have I walked the paths that take me through and into the landscape, exploring features that hint at its ancient, geological history as well as those that reveal the history of human occupation, from the Iron Age through to the crofters of recent centuries. Study of local maps and historical documents, such as the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845), have greatly influenced the direction of my work, providing some of the visual language and narratives that are starting to make their presence felt.
And this gallery reveals my endless fascination for the ecology of this wild region of Scotland, which is the result of its particular geology, climate and systems of land management. It is a fragile and rare environment, which is constantly being re-assessed in terms of its value to humans, wild animals, crofting practices and climate change. The long story of this land and a reverence for all the life it supports, is my focus.
I am about to embark on another chapter of this relationship to my place on this earth. To see the early stages of the new work, please have a look at Earthworks.
Please click on an image to see the full picture.
"The animals are more ancient than us... They enjoy a seamless presence - a lyrical unity with the earth... Somewhere in the Celtic mind was a grounding perception that humans are the inheritors of this deeper world. Indeed in the human heart is somehow gathered some of the biography of the earth."
from "Anam Cara",
by John O'Donohue
Biography of the Earth
(after reading Anam Cara, by John O'Donohue)
Sift and turn,
Sift and turn.
Through blackened sun
on the pages of his book
glances. Then another.
A mining light picks
each mineral thought.
Now they lie gathered
In my hand's eye
in unthinking chronology.
Yes, these are precious extractions:
words of crystal clarity,
the biography of the earth.
Jan Kilpatrick, the Summer Isles, July 2013
".. its as if this landscape were suddenly to become aware of the existence of its own elements - possessive rock, possessing only itself: huge lumbering sea - that fat-fingered lacemaker who, by sitting on shells, gives them their shapes: mountains reaching half way to somewhere or other: "
From "Waiting to Notice",
by Norman MacCaig