Loch Berne, Lerwick, Shetland Islands, relates to the poet Hugh MacDiarmid, who lived on Whalsay, Shetland for ten years. Ruth Nicol’s association with Shetland landscapes goes back to her project, ‘Three Rivers Meet.’
The artist’s ‘Three Rivers Meet’ project took as its starting point Alexander Moffat’s composite portrait ‘Poets’ Pub‘ (1980) in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Ruth travelled Scotland sketching and painting the landscapes associated with the Scottish poets in this painting: Norman MacCaig, Hugh MacDiarmid, Sorley Maclean, Iain Crichton Smith, George Mackay Brown, Edwin Morgan and Robert Garioch. Some of her paintings in this series are on an epic scale – for example, see her painting of the Edinburgh landscape (poet: Robert Garioch) in the Scottish Parliament art collection. By contrast, this painting of Loch Berne, an engaging small work, illustrates Nicol’s mastery of a very wide spectrum of scale.
In the exhibition catalogue, the artist speaks about some of her influences: “Frances Walker and Bet Low would be my role models. Their sheer determination, Bet Low’s beautiful landscapes, her dedication, her getting an education against all the odds, during the Second World War, these things are exemplary. And Frances Walker, just continued in persisting in a medium I don’t understand, printmaking. But it’s the example of their endeavour – that’s what I admire and take seriously.”
Ruth Nicol herself is an extremely dedicated artist. She is Scottish, b. Glasgow, now living and working in Edinburgh. She trained in Drawing & Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2010. She has won numerous awards and her work is held in private and public collections throughout the UK.
The exhibition catalogue, only £10.00 plus P&P, is available simply by e-mailing me (click on ‘Contact’ tab). I recommend it – it’s a very good read! – Beth Junor, Gallery Director
Acrylic on card
Photo courtesy John Reiach