Beth Robertson Fiddes
24th June - 30th July
Landscape paintings by the renowned Ullapool based artist.
There are several threads running through my work in addition to reflecting on the image and reference point in whatever I’ve chosen to paint. I’m interested in the passage of time and my perception that, in looking at a landscape, certain things seem transient, fleeting and elusive. Alive almost. With tides, splashes, breaking waves and angry waters I’m trying to catch a moment, to imagine that moment is all the time I have, a life in a millisecond, and to find and save permanent forms and structures in the movement. In pieces based on the apparently unchanging, immovable rocks and mountains, I look for evidence of movement and change. A sense that they have a life on a larger scale and over unimaginable timeframes. I try to combine the seemingly ageless with the more ephemeral to reflect my experience of the character of the landscape.
My method of working on the paintings reflects this. I add paper and paint, wash bits off, sand things back time after time until I’m happy with it. There are elements of, I hope, controlled experiment and accident in order to move technique forward. Some things never get finished but the process is still valuable to me. I have a quest to see or feel things as I did before I knew what everything was, to a time when I felt everything had a connection and the world seemed full of possibilities.
My work has sometimes been described as having an otherworldly quality to it and, in a sense, this is partly my objective. I refer often to memories of my early childhood at Hynish on Tiree, playing and exploring the shoreline there, trying to attach meaning and a story to everything I found or saw.
Submerged ominous rocks rumbling and booming. Hairy seaweed monsters breathing under the tide.
The feeling of playing outside for so long in the cold rain, sleet and howling wind that the rock pools feel warm and safe.
Half understood words, stories and songs about lost cities under the sea, kelpies and child stealing fairies.
Ominous thoughts on even the sunniest of days.
I’m looking forward to this exhibition. The gallery itself is such a great space. My work has been shown in the past to audiences in Edinburgh, Glasgow and further south. Many viewers say they see the work as an escape from the city, whether or not they have a connection to the places I paint. It’s great that folk feel that way about the paintings and I’m glad they are able to find a way to connect. The work in this show is based, for the most part, on the surrounding area of Ullapool, the West Highlands and Islands. It will be interesting to see whether people who also live and work in this landscape see the same things in the work as a city audience.