“The imagination is not an escape, but a return to the richness of our true selves; a return to reality.” George Mackay Brown

There’s a seemingly harmless stretch of water that separates mainland Scotland from Orkney. A sliver of innocent blue that lies between two jagged edges barely eight or ten miles apart at the narrowest point. But it’s a wild treacherous piece of water that, even when it appears reasonable and calm hides a terrible turmoil beneath. It’s where the Atlantic meets the North Sea and both are known for their capricious natures. Maybe it’s that that gives Orkney its otherness, it’s keener edge. That and the most extraordinary light.
Main Image Rackwick Beach, Sylvia Wishart

Sometimes there’s so much sky and so much clarity, you think your eyesight’s improved immeasurably. And other times, when the haar rolls in like a ghost ship, there’s so much opacity and mystery. And then there’s the weather as drama: clouds, livid bruises and the sea, the colour of woods in winter, heaving and crashing.

And this is the place where Louise Barrington, artist and islander, draws her inspiration from. This land of kelpies, where reality lies on the shores of fantasy. And she’s in partnership with the light because the shadows cast by her creations appear to make up half the work. The beautiful, often ethereal 3d pieces she produces hang still in the air like sea birds balancing on the breeze. Her work has the quality of making you aware of your own heavy-footed gravity. The pieces themselves are beautiful and seem so light and airy and not of this world. Such stuff as dreams are made of.


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