Finding Lewis - an exhibition of project sketches, foraged materials and paintings – by artist Rebecca Styles is running at Talla na Mara, Pairc Niseaboist, from Tuesday 1 November 2022 to 28 February 2023
Rebecca Styles | Peatland, oil and natural pigments on canvas
This is following on from her spring 2022 Bigger Than Us exhibition at Grinneabhat Gallery, and site-specific Alchemy exhibition at Baile na Cille, Uig, this summer.
Finding Lewis is an exhibition of 26 paintings is the result of a self-directed residency that began in 2020. Having moved to the Isle of Lewis in March 2019 and built a house and studio in Great Bernera, Rebecca set out on an extended tour of Lewis and Harris, taking in as much as she could of her new island home, connecting with the landscape and the community, and documenting her journey with sketches and notes which she shared in real time on her Finding Lewis blog.
Having had little contact during 2019 with either people or places on the islands due to the restriction of lockdown, the project introduced Rebecca to the special beauty of the area and its unique culture, and provided a bank of visual inspiration to draw on for this exhibition, as well as foraged materials for use in the creation of her paintings. The resulting collection includes works inspired by every place she visited, with an emphasis on creating landscape with landscape - using earth pigments, grit, charcoal and other materials with her oil paints.
Rebecca says of this project "Over the past three years I have slowly learned to acclimatize my body, mind and spirit to the lifestyle changes that living on Lewis has brought, and to embrace the bittersweet realities of island life. I am drawn strongly down to the earth, to the rocks and to connecting my feet to the memories buried below. The energy of this island at the edge of Europe is seeping into my bones: I have called for it, waited for it, to root, to connect, and it has begun. I am going back to ground, to drawing with crushed rock, to dancing burnt embers across the page and allowing my fingers to memorialize the shapes, colours and unique vistas that make Lewis so unique. I have much more personal experience now of the wild beauty of the island, and of being an islander, and I hope to bring that into my work."
Alongside her paintings, Rebecca's Finding Lewis sketchbooks, which were made for this project by a local bookbinder, and the foraged materials and pigments used in her works, will also be on display.
See Finding Lewis from 1st November 2022 to 28th February 2023 at Talla Na Mara, The West Harris Trust, Pairc Niseaboist.
Rebecca Styles was born in West Yorkshire. She is a recipient of a Visual Artist and Craft Makers (VACMA) Award, and a Creative Scotland Artist Bursary for her work involving local raw pigments and traditional paint making.
She studied at Bradford College of Art, and later Somerset College of Art &Technology and Falmouth College of Art.
She has spent several years travelling and painting the landscape in some of the UKs most beautiful locations, including the Isles of Scilly, West Cornwall, Devon, and then, on her narrowboat ‘Puck', the beautiful rural counties of Gloucestershire and Derbyshire.
In spring 2019, drawn by memories of her childhood holidays on the Isle of Arran, she began searching for a permanent home in the Outer Hebrides, acquiring a plot on the Isle of Lewis where she has built her house and studio.