As a landscape artist, amongst other things, I'm obviously fascinated by landscape and all its ramifications but am also drawn to scenery which is usually one's first impression of a landscape. I spend a lot of time finding locations and 'designing' walks from which to view landscapes. In this way I’ve come to understand more about Scottish landscapes, most importantly from their social, economic and political perspectives.
But I’m intrigued and somewhat obsessed by certain aspects of English landscapes, initially by their unique beauty (I don't know if that's a very 'arty' things to do, to talk about beauty - perhaps I'm becoming sentimental). Through explorations of English landscapes I've experienced delicious moments, hours and days in some of the softest, almost perfect, rural settings one could imagine, particularly in the home counties and East Anglia. But it’s that near-perfection which causes all the problems and thereby lends great value to artistic investigations. I’ve come to understand the extreme pressures on the specifically English landscape and am particularly struck by a notion, articulated very clearly by writers such as Robert McFarlane, Joe Kennedy and Adam Scovell. If you don't know of their work I recommend having a good dig around for interviews, books and blogs and the inevitable trail of links. Here I've picked up on the idea that some of the most probing English landscape art - writing, film, photography - has an essentially unsettling, eerie, uncanny quality and that this might stem in part from the historical shock or trauma of a landscape brutalised by industrialisation and exploitative development policies. We therefore have one reading which assumes an Edenic utopia smashed to pieces by amoral greedy ruthless profiteers and equally that of a landscape sitting on a powerful and resilient substrate of uncanny social history. I'm following both threads with equal fascination. At the moment I’d like to know more about how the industrial revolution in particular comes into play or lies at the roots of this tension.
In the Scottish Borders where I live, dwell, wander and roam, the landscapes would at first blush seem to combine features of both Scottish and English landscapes in their blend of typical or stereotypical pictorial attributes, at times rugged, at times soft. But above and beyond this first impression this is a unique landscape, one that carries heavy baggage of its own, something I look forward to unpacking in my Landowner project.