From a series of 10 studies of this volcanic spur in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, painted between 2016-19.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that in Scotland, where we can experience all seasons’ weather in one day, we have several words to describe different kinds of rainbows. A ‘watergaw’ is a fragmentary one, one that shimmers into life then seems to disappear partially or entirely. It’s easy to miss a rainbow, especially a watergaw – you have to have your eyes on the sky, looking into the distance. This the artist did for this series, and was rewarded with this sight:
‘A watergaw wi’ its chitterin’ licht ‘ – Hugh MacDiarmid’s famous poem ‘The Watergaw’ captures the profound associations felt on seeing a fleeting rainbow. The two watergaw paintings in the series seem to me to capture visually this depth of emotion expressed in MacDiarmid’s poem.
Painted before the ubiquitous rainbow image symbolised hope during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Like all good art its resonances have been reshaped by history.
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