(acrylic on canvas, 101cm x 81cm)
Derived from a real landscape in the Isle of Lewis this work once again shows the pre-clearance pattern of rigs or lazy beds particularly in the lower third of the canvas. This pattern is very reminiscent of some aboriginal art and in the similar way it conveys a narrative and a mythology of a people. Like the aborigines they became a people outside, a people excluded and marginalised in the face of a colonising power. Unlike the aborigines whose spiritual narrative is written in marks and symbols, in their art, the record of the gaelic speaking pre-clearance communities is written in the surface of the land itself. It is this pattern that is the testimony to their toil and sacrifice in a demanding environment.
In the upper two thirds of the canvas this same pattern is distorted and obscured sometimes almost obliterated by the imposition of the crofting system that succeeded it. Here the long narrow fields of the new crofting township are clearly seen. Sometimes there are narrow rigs aligned along their long axis showing that hand cultivation persisted initially, but the introduction of the tractor and plough later destroyed much of the earlier pattern except where field were largely used as permanent, albeit improved pasture, rather than arable.
Like aboriginal painting the aesthetic appeal of the work can be felt without knowledge of the complex story telling behind the image.