Sunday, August 07, 2016

Scotland, Skye, and Schueler

"I wasn't sure if it was a place or a mood or what it was, but there was something I was looking for .... As I approached the sea near Mallaig and the Sound of Sleat I could see these massive forms like the Isle of Eigg and the southern tip of Skye and Rhum, and I could see these things sort of glowering in this kind of wild light that took place that day and the Geiger counter just went berserk. I'll never forget the excitement."

- Jon Schueler (1916 - 1992)

Those were words written down by abstract artist Jon Schueler after arriving in the remote fishing village of Mallaig in western Scotland in 1957, overlooking the Sound of Sleat and toward the isle of Skye. Except for the time and specific place (in my case, in 2009 during my wife's and my first trip to Kyleakin, Skye, and, more recently, last month, as our whole family arrived in tow to Trumpan, Skye - the northern part of Skye's "second finger" - including our two teenage boys), I could use Schueler's words to describe my own reaction to the preternatural splendor of Skye's landscapes and skies. It is a wondrous place that somehow exists both inside and outside of time; where shapes, textures, and colors appear, and disappear, fleetingly and constantly, that one swears have never before appeared anywhere else on earth; where so much Wagnerian-scale drama unfolds in its undulating land, sea, and cloudscapes during even that ephemeral instant between involuntary blinks of an eye, that one's aesthetic senses are delighted and overwhelmed. Oh, but what a magnificent symphony!

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting images as I "develop" them, and that I somehow (inexplicably) managed to capture in between slack-jawed exclamations of "Ooh!" and "Ahhh" and the occasional, "Just extraordinary!"; as Skye sporadically allowed hints of its ineffable mystery and beauty to enter my camera's lens and viewfinder.

Again, I cannot improve upon Shueler's own words:

"When I speak of nature, I speak of the sky, because the sky has become all of nature to me. And when I think of the sky, I think of the Scottish sky over Mallaig. It isn't that I think of it that nationally, really, but that I studied the Mallaig sky so intently, and I found its convulsive movement and change and drama such a concentration of activity that it became all skies and even the idea of all nature to me. It's as if one could see from day to day the drama of all skies and of all nature in all times speeded up and compressed. I knew that the whole thing was there. Time was there and motion was there - lands forming, seas disappearing, worlds fragmenting, colors emerging or giving birth to burning shapes, mountain snows showing emerald green; or paused solid still when gales stopped suddenly and the skies were clear again after long days of howling sound and rain or snow beating horizontal from the sky."

Perhaps Skye's deepest mystery, is how - despite the incessant drama of all of its basic forms, and unending froth of light and shadow - there is a deep, deep, spiritually infused fantastical quiet that envelops the senses (when the moment is right and Skye has chosen to briefly reveal that side of herself).

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