Vessel of Light

It’s been a while since I last entered anything on the blog. During this time I’ve been working on a series of paintings concerned with the properties of Light and Dark and the contrasting symbolism of these concepts. Given our chaotic political landscape, it would be difficult and probably neglectful to avoid reflecting something of this in the work created.

However all is not doom and gloom. There is great potential for light in the darkness. Below is a new work called Luminessence which is full of light despite the backdrop of a dark night. 


Copyright Silvana McLean.

The use of landscape as a vehicle for personal discovery is not new. This interraction of self and environment is one I’ve noticed for a long time. The wind, weather and temperature contribute as much to my work as the visual surroundings.

In his book, The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane writes ” I have long been fascinated by how people understand themselves using landscape, by the topographies of self we carry within us and by the maps we make with which to navigate these interior terrains.” 
He also quotes an American Historian and Geographer, John Brinckerhoff Jackson who says ” For untold thousands of years we travelled on foot over rough paths not simply as peddlers or commuters or tourists but as men and women for whom the road stood for some intense experience: freedom, new human relationships, a new awareness of the landscape. The road offered a journey into the unknown that could end up allowing us to discover who we were.”

In the ‘lamp lit’ darkness of the Herring Museum in Siglufjordur, North Iceland, I came across a bottle lying on its side which I picked up. The contents floated upwards and I could see that they had been living creatures once upon a time. Their transparent forms caught the light creating a flickering within. In Icelandic they are called Ljosata, ljos in that language meaning light or bright.

 It was a bottle of Krill, an organism so important to the food chain in the oceans that it forms the diet of large creatures like Baleen Whales to small fish like sand eels. It’s almost like the essence of life. A visiting party of kindergarten children who were also brimming with life provided a background of lively chatter.

Here’s to a new toast ‘ Life and Light!’

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