‘Northern Edgelands’ opens to the public on the 19th of August in the Macrobert Arts Centre Stirling, and runs until the 25th September.
My work was originally accepted for a solo show at this lovely venue two years ago - pre pandemic. Needless to say since 2020, my work has developed and shifted in new directions in response to changes in life, travel, collaborations and the new experiences that time brings. Play, collaboration, connection and positivity have taken increasing importance in my work since the pandemic, which I have transferred using colour, expressive mark making, and a sense of fun. I’ll be showcasing some of the older pieces alongside my new works, which have been heading in a more abstract direction. The show is, in a sense, a documentation of my development as an artist over the last two years.
'Stones of Stenness' Diptych
Northern Edgelands is a collection of works spanning paper, canvas, textiles and wood - celebrating my love for multidisciplinary practice and materials. The main source of reference for this body of work are my many trips to the North West coast of mainland Scotland and the Orkney Islands. The starting point for my work has been to explore these stunning and remote locations through wild camping and walking trips. This form of slow travel gives time to observe and record shapes, lines, textures, sounds and colours through audio recordings, sketchbooks, photos and plein-air paintings. These associated memories and wide body of research is taken back to the studio to be explored and inform my work, celebrating my love for coastal paths, seascapes and edge lands - spaces in between, where the land and water meet.
Recording the Landscape, Applecross, 2020
The latest pieces continue to be centred around experiencing the outdoors and connecting with nature on a multi sensory level. They focus on the importance of play, influenced by the positive impact that walking in the outdoors, and the power of quiet observation has on mental health. The newest works utilising wood, textiles and canvas take visual influences from my love of folk art, contemporary quilts and midcentury print design, and seek to blend my practices between fine art and design. I’ve created two interactive wood cut puzzle paintings, which I encourage you to take part in! These works explore shape and pattern, made from magnetic wood cut shapes. The shapes are informed by my walks along the coast, featuring birds, rock formations, waves and more. You can play with these pieces to create your own compositions, designs and arrangements. If you make your own compositions with these pieces, please share a photo of them with me on social media @orlastevens - I’d love to see the patterns and arrangements you make! This project within the exhibition has been kindly funded by Scene Stirling, who have supported my work through their micro grant scheme.
Planning Composition for 3D woodcuts - Digital Sketch
To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories I have made a few pieces inspired by Orkney based folklore. I have chosen to work from three tales: Hildaland - the disappearing island of Eynhallow; the battle between the Mither O’ the Sea and Teran; and the Dancing Giants of Brodgar.
Click through here to read the stories:
Screen Print on Linen - Section of textile hanging of the Dancing Giants of Brodgar
Continuing with the Orkney theme, ‘Sagas and Seascapes’ video concert will be on show within the exhibition. This collaborative project explores Scotland’s nordic connections through contemporary music, art and film. We are also showcasing the project live at the Edinburgh Fringe - if you’d like to know more, you can visit the project website here. We are running a free online viewing of the project, accompanied by a live Q&A with the composers and myself. If you’d like to join us, you can register here.
Flyer Design for Sagas & Seascapes - Live at the Edinburgh Fringe
In 2021 I was lured back to Orkney to create a public art installation in collaboration with Orkney-based poet Gabrielle Barnby, to celebrate the life and work of George Mackay Brown. Since this project has finished, Gabrielle has written a beautiful collection of poems reflecting on the project and themes of our artwork. Her writing, namely a piece ‘The Garden’ has inspired new paintings, which will be exhibited alongside her text. You can read the full collection of poems here.
Illustration for 'The Garden' poem
On the 19th, 20th & 21st I will be installing a mural, painting live in the Macrobert Arts Centre. Follow along with my instagram @orlastevens or send me a message if you’d like to watch a little of my process, and come and say hello! I’ll be sharing the painting times on the morning of each day.
If you’d like to join me for a glass of bubbly for an informal opening, we’ll be meeting on Tuesday 23rd August at 6pm. Please make sure you email me to RSVP so we can keep a tabs on numbers.
I hope to see you there! Any feedback of the exhibition is warmly welcomed.