Oxmarket Contemporary: New Exhibition

The WOODS of CALEDON
memories of Scottish pinewoods
21/02/2022
Press Release


"The Woods of Caledon", is an old term for the native coniferous pine forests that once covered much of the Highlands of Scotland. This vast primordial forest has been reduced in area by both natural environmental change and by human activity, although still a significant element in the highland landscape, dominating it in parts of the East Central Highlands. The reduction, alteration, and fragmentation of this forest have been called 'the biggest effect man has exerted on the history of the Highlands' and is regarded by some as an 'almost wonton destruction of the last extensive primeval forest which had no equal in Europe'. The artist, Iain White, first visited many of the remaining woodlands in the early 1960s and over the years has become familiar with their aesthetic, their ecology, and their history.

These remaining pinewoods invoke subjective aesthetic responses and possess a depth of meaning, an intentionality, a spirit, and essence, which goes beyond their physical and sensory properties. They are a conduit for the emotions and the imagination, while at the same time they communicate embedded narratives that encapsulate many aspects of the history of the Highlands. The works in this exhibition are inspired by memories of these pinewoods and in seeking to respond to these properties many owe a debt to the Barbizon School and the Sois-Bois sub-genre of landscape painting that developed from it through the nineteen and into the twentieth century. The works, both oil paintings, and soft pastels, fall into approximately two groups: first, largely figurative, impressionist works that draw on real places, albeit with some latitude for interpretation, and secondly semi-abstract and often expressionist works intended to capture the essence of the forest.