Through my studio window, I can see a small church building, which partly obscures my view over the dunes to the sea. A squat and spartan structure, it was built on the corner of our land, gifted to the local Free Presbyterian Church congregation by the previous owners, many decades ago. Known locally as “the old meeting house”, it sits there mostly unused nowadays, plain and unadorned, unpainted; bravely if bitterly, bleakly, weathering the worst of the storms that the Minch can throw at it.
I wouldn’t say that I’m fond of it, but I have grown used to it – it is very much a constant presence here, a part of this place, of its history and of the psyche of its Gaelic people. I usually find myself avoiding it, when I aim my camera. We’ve planted shrubs and trees near it, (although this is like fighting a losing battle against the marauding local deer) in the hope that one day, it might at least stand out less harshly in its setting on the edge of the dunes.
For the longest time, I’ve known that at some point, I’d have to confront and explore this wee edifice and its symbolism, its relationship to this landscape, in my work. I’ve finally made a tentative start and these are the first few oil studies – quite a departure from my usual subject matter and approach!