Dominique Cameron – Moor & Ann Cowan – Dunbar Sketchbooks
Dominique Cameron – “Moor”
Ann Cowan – “Dunbar Sketchbooks”
22 August to 20 September 2020
We have two exhibitions for the price of one up next, with two of the gallery’s most popular artists – Dominique Cameron & Ann Cowan. Both projects were completed over the course of around 9 months and all before the Covid lockdown. Dominique made repeated visits to the expansive, timeless, wilderness of Rannoch Moor in the Scottish Highlands whilst Ann explored the more urban setting of the streets and harbour of the small coastal town of Dunbar at the mouth of the Firth of Forth in East Lothian.
Although not the artists’ original intention, both bodies of work, being devoid of human figures, portray a world we have become all too familiar with during lockdown. Both projects however, were really portraits of the places themselves.
Dominique, firstly drawn to the natural history and magnitude of the moor, gradually became drenched in the spirit and organic essence of the place. Her loose expressive drawing in the monochromatic panoramas of the moor, perfectly capture the expansiveness and its eternal exposure to the harshness of the elements. The richly coloured, thickly impastoed oils, on the other hand, drill deep into the essence of the moor; like being served up with an organic slice of bog pie which has been centuries in the making.
In the artist’s words…
Rannoch Moor – Dominique Cameron
This project began with a question. How can you paint emptiness?
I chose Rannoch Moor for my exploration.
Rannoch is vast. Fifty square miles of bog land, surrounded by hills. It is a high plateau, a watershed which flows either to the Atlantic in the west or to the North Sea in the east. The weather is fickle – cloud, rain, sun, snow, all in a day at any time of the year with little warning. Watching a weather forecast is rarely accurate. The plan was to try and express the moorness of the Moor – to understand at least a little of what this place is – its silence and anxiety tinged beauty. Trying to walk in this world is hard, beyond difficult. Walking a straight line is impossible as you sink and are sucked into the peat and wet, a wet that seeps into boots, socks, mind.
I loved the adventure of this landscape – the wide horizon, the sound of the wind. It is not empty, but full of life and death; whole cycles play out underfoot, a record of our history, of time.
Solitary, magnificent. A place to get lost.
Having previously been absorbed in the grandeur of the buildings of Edinburgh’s New Town, Ann’s eye was naturally drawn to the architecture and streets in and around Dunbar. Loose and expressive drawing, sometimes supported by textural patches of collage, combine with an organic palette which is enlivened with flashes blue, yellow and the rich red of the local East Lothian sandstone. Painted in a spontaneous sketchbook style, the result is a broad and tender portrait of a much loved town.
In the artist’s words…
Dunbar Sketchbooks – Ann Cowan
My recent body of work concentrates on the East Lothian town of Dunbar. It’s an area I have been familiar with and very fond of for many years and, in recent times, I have been visiting frequently – walking my dog at Belhaven, exploring the town and getting to recognise all the boats in the busy harbour.
When the opportunity to exhibit with Dominique Cameron at Fidra Fine Art was first mentioned, I knew instinctively that I wanted to paint Dunbar and to observe all its different aspects in a series of expressive sketchbooks.
The town has a wealth of beautiful old red sandstone buildings with interesting architectural details. Orange pan tiles form wonderful roofscapes. The industrial outskirts are grittier but just as interesting in terms of composition. The harbour is a constant source of inspiration with its multitude of fishing boats and lobster creels. Follow the cliffs of deep burnt sienna along the coast, past Winterfield, to Belhaven and you discover miles of sandy beach with tall ochre grasses set against colourful beach chalets.
Hopefully this exhibition tells a visual story of the town whilst avoiding too literal an interpretation of the subject.
All work in the exhibition will be available to view and purchase on the website closer to the exhibition start date.
Beautifully produced books covering each body of work are available now directly from the artists or from the gallery.
Dominique collaborated with the poet Mark Goodwin for her book “Moor” which includes Mark’s words inspired by Dominique’s paintings. The book has been entered in this year’s wilderness themed, Banff Mountain Book Festival in Canada.