The thing about the West coast of Scotland is that the sun sets on the sea. You are always confronted with this incredible natural spectacle. A grey sea, a misty evening, regardless of the weather the landscape is always alive and fascinating. Because it is North, it is a silver event not a glowing gold. I love the evenings by the sea. The light goes and the rocks go black against the silver sea. There is such elemental ground beneath your feet you feel it even driving across the hills.
When Joseph Beuys was visiting Richard Demarco on the West coast of Scotland in 1966 my father filmed him in the pouring rain through the windscreen wipers as they were driving in a convoy of two cars. Beuys’ head and hat can be seen in the back window of the VW Beetle ahead. Beuys then performs an event – in the rain – among the sheep manhandling some gelly material.
The power of the natural elements up North is very strong. They are always present, inescapably so, whether you are an artist or shepherd. Minerals, rocks, sand, rain and above all light in its multiple forms, refraction and reflections, glistening, shining, glimmering, are omnipresent.
Apart from Scotland and London, I have spent probably half my life in New York. For me, urban cityscapes connect to storms at sea.
A few years back I stopped to look at the carwash on West 18th Street. The stainless steel walls with the water and steam made a real impression. At the time I thought it was the reflections, the light and the shapes that were fascinating me. But in fact it was the silver itself I was attracted to.
Back in Scotland I started working on a series called ‘Mineral Paintings’, contrasting materials, reflections, with mineral pigments on Japanese rice paper: ‘Stone Painting’, ‘Earth Painting’, ‘Storm Light’… The next move was to try an image in pure silver. I couldn’t find a solid enough silver paint, and turned to collage using silver foil, resulting in the ‘Silver Series.’
‘Silver Series I’ is a flower. I have worked with flowers for a long time; perfect, unpredictable, scientific. For the form of the silver series I took the outline of a rose that I had drawn from a real flower and filled it with silver. An absolute shape made only of reflected light.
The silver surface with its reflections reacts with the background paper and takes on a life of its own, with the luminous quality of a cloud.
Storm light and silver linings; concrete, stone, metal. My subjects are inspired by nature, translated through often opposing materials and their juxtaposition.
Samantha McEwen — Recent Paintings was held by VERY UP & CO
at The Brompton Garage, 1 North Terrace, London SW3
The exhibition was kindly supported by the Brompton Design District.
Brompton Design District