Merville Galleries presents Jill McManners, BASALT17. Feb - 1. Mar 14 / ended Mall Galleries
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The first major solo exhibition by the Lancashire born painter and sculptor Jill McManners
‘Basalt’ will include almost sixty recent watercolours and prints exemplifying the principal theme of her work for the last decade, an extraordinary group of tiny Hebridean islands in the Minch, north of Skye, called the Shiant Isles, and their spectacular geographical formations.
Millions of years ago in the “deep heart’s core” of the earth these rocks were forming. Volcanoes erupted high into the atmosphere and intruded underground becoming rivers of magma: as they cooled they solidified into a root like intrusion of basaltic sills and dykes. Dolerite columns similar to those of the Giants Causeway and Staffa, rise sheer out of the sea to a height of over four hundred feet. Although the word Shiant derives from a Gaelic word meaning ‘enchanted’ these can be inhospitable islands even on the calmest of summer days.
Jill Mc Manners began working on this series of paintings in 2006/7 after first visiting the islands some years earlier, having been inspired to do so by Adam Nicolson’s book “Sea Room: An island Life”. She and her family have a home on a small island in the Sound of Harris, an island of sandy beaches, machair , low rocky outcrops and shallow but racing tides and currents. By contrast , the majestic scale, imposing physical presence and terrifying impact of the Shiant Isles has never diminished even after many visits. As the artist says ‘I don’t love the Shiants; I didn’t then and I don’t now. They are frightening like the sea, very wild’: Richard Cork refers to them in his introductory essay for the catalogue as ‘this alarming yet irresistible location’
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