I'll begin this journey into documenting my interpretation of Scotland's landscape with a hearty Scottish Breakfast and a view up Loch Broom.
Reflection of the sky on the water, layers of coast, glen and mountain. [food and view courtesy of Arch Inn, Ullapool]
Getting down close to the ground reveals a hidden world of colour and life. Here in Flow Country, Forsinard RSPB Nature Reserve, there are bountiful beasties and botany. Take a few steps up though, change perspective and the entire landscape is transformed. Shapes you couldn't see from ground level are revealed.
Sometimes trees though. Some of Scotland's most amazing vistas are barren places, but many of them are not natural. Ancient Caledonian forests have disappeared at the hand of man over the centuries. I personally would like to see them come back. There's something so comforting about the sound of your boot gently thudding on, what feels like, hollow ground of a pine forest path.
At low tide we gain some land back from the sea. An amphibious zone is revealed. A distinct high tide line becomes visible.
Lines and layers. Extrusive igneous rocks following the path of least resistance on a vertical plane. On the horizontal, sand is laid down, compressed, hardened, lifted, scoured and revealed.
Erosion. This process of subtraction, a destructive force, is critical in shaping the landscape. Hidden stories of the earth are exposed in coastal cliff faces, glaciated valley and corries scoured by ice and loose rock, leaving behind our shapely mountains. The more exaggerated the negative space, the more striking that which remains.
Elevation. Tracking sinuous contours or attacking those lines on their perpendicular for speed of ascent. There is a peace above the clouds, the noise is left below. Gaining height and perspective. Understanding shapes and coming to grips with scale.
The deep. A reversal of our visible topography. I'm not going to lie...this fascinates me almost as much as it frightens the wits out of me! Hidden contours beneath our lochs and a terrifying drop from the edge of the continental shelf to the abyssal plains of the ocean floor.
OK, I've scared myself witless now...let's wrap this up with sunsets!
Many of the themes discussed here, and more, are informing my new body of work which you can see on exhibition, 'Breaking Ground' in March and April 2017, at the Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine, Ayrshire.
Thank you to my faithful cameraman, driver, studio manager and partner, Sam, for documenting our journeys and the back of my head!