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Loch Katrine: “so wondrous wild, the whole might seem the scenery of a fairy dream”

This is the second blog about my experience on a creative retreat at Loch Katrine in Scotland. We had spent the previous day with a mix of photography and art, exploring a variety of ways to represent the beauty of the landscape around us. Loch Katrine has long been a source of inspiration for creatives. It became the birthplace of Scottish tourism, partly because of Sir Walter Scott, who based his famous poem The Lady of the Lake there in 1809/10.

The Lady of the Lake is a mystical figure, a guardian spirit, who appears to travellers by rising up out of the water:

" And thus an airy point he won,

Where, gleaming with the setting sun,

One burnished sheet of living gold,

Loch Katrine lay beneath him rolled,

In all her length far winding lay,

With promontory, creek, and bay,

And islands that, empurpled bright,

Floated amid the livelier light,

And mountains that like giants stand

To sentinel enchanted land.

High on the south, huge Benvenue

Down to the lake in masses threw

Crags, knolls, and mounds, confusedly hurled,

The fragments of an earlier world;"

Wow, how his words reflect the Loch Katrine that I was exploring. I wanted to reflect his words in my images. And for fun here is a film of the Lady of the Lake from 1928, in which you can see what Loch Katrine was like 100 years ago! Not a lot has changed!

On the second full day, sadly the rain had returned. Far too wet for photography, we immersed ourselves instead in creating collages and representations of the surrounding landscape. Challenging, especially when we were encouraged to rip up our own art work to create something new!

Collaging has been used for centuries, possibly emerging in China during the Tang dynasty and used in 12th century Japan as a background for calligraphy. Medieval artists created illuminated manuscripts that mixed text, gold leaf and pictures, while Victorian women enjoyed 'scrapbooking'. It made its way into the fine art scene in the early twentieth century with the avante-garde works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque who used collage as an extension of their paintings, and the politically-charged creations of Max Ernst and Hannah Höch. Artist such as Robert Rauschenberg and Romare Bearden have continued this tradition, exploring modern themes of identity, consumerisms and cultural appropriation, up to the work of Olivia Descampe, and Sarah Eisenlohr, You can explore the work of fifty contemporary women in the 2019 book Collage by Woman, written by Rebeki Elizegi and Blanca Ortiga.

I am standing on the edge of exploring collage, but I can already see how the processes of constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing relates to creative photography.

I had so many thoughts jumbling and tumbling in my head, that when after lunch, we ventured out to explore a nearby waterfall, I found it hard to immerse myself into my photography. The location was full of possibilities though, and I thought about how to deconstruct the scene and reconstruct it with a different perspective, using multiple exposures in a variety of ways. I looked at the elements of the scene - water-falling over weirs, dark reflections, coloured lichens on the brickwork, surrounded by a wonderful mix of trees - so much to incorporate:

Under Charlie's helpful tuition, I became more deliberate in positioning the layers of each image, taking time to think about what I was trying to achieve. I am particularly pleased with this one:

It was time to head back, but on the way I spotted a copse, with beautiful trunks shining in the light, emerging out of bracken and grasses.

and I gradually lengthened the shutter speed to create more abstraction:

Continuing the walk, new views of the loch opened up, and again I was struck by the amazing colours and variety of textures:

I reverted back to my favourite creative method, ICM:

but I was intrigued by the way this multiple exposure looked like a layered collage:

Learning so much by having the time to focus on being creative. Only one more day to go.......

Ania's words of wisdom at the end of the day: "Ideas are your friends, invite them in for a talk, listen to them. Embrace them in your practice and it will energise you."

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Lorraine Grey
Lorraine Grey
May 03

Very creative, love what you did in both blogs 🤗

a day ago
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Thank you for getting in touch and for your kind words. It was an inspiring experince!

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