Lachlan Goudie’s forthcoming exhibition at The Scottish Gallery presents a new collection of works, inspired by places that are, or at least may have recently felt far far away. The works bring fairy tales to life, with landscapes and still lifes that are designed to make you daydream.
Goudie had originally intended to spend time painting in Mauritius and the Arctic, producing a series of contrasting landscapes. However, Covid-19 interrupted these plans and he instead found himself in the Dorset countryside with his family. As we have all ‘tumbled through the looking glass’ into a surreal world of lockdown and anxiety, Goudie has escaped into the art of his imagination, watching the seasons change and the landscape alter. He has been strongly influenced by the nightly ritual of reading fairy tales to his young daughter to send her to sleep. Together they journeyed into stories of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Snow White and the snow-covered landscape of Disney’s Frozen.
Lachlan Goudie comments, Each day during lockdown my daughter demanded to wear one of her garishly coloured ‘Princess dresses’ as she accompanied her mother and younger brother on walks in the blossoming garden, or in the local countryside. A sight which seemed so discordant at first, assumed the appearance of the new normality. Clementine’s single-minded enthusiasm, her determination to inhabit this fantastical inner world, was hugely powerful and uplifting at a difficult time. As parents, my wife and I attempted to insulate our children from the troubling events that were unfolding beyond the garden wall. Fairy tales, nature and the tide of springtime flowers and birdsong that seemed to envelope the place we had escaped to, provided almost all the necessary distractions.
Goudie explores landscapes beyond Dorset too. Images of rural Berwickshire, the same countryside the Glasgow Boys walked and painted in at the village of Cockburnspath in the mid-1880s, feature in the exhibition, capturing something of the cold winter light that James Guthrie found here in 1883-4. Further afield Goudie’s work looks to the wilderness of the Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway, where settlements cling to the coast beneath towering mountains and cliffs, between dark waters and starry skies.
His still lifes underline the power of nature to renew and regenerate while the arrangements of glass and pewter act as images of stillness and contemplation, offering a counterpoint to the energy of the living landscape. In addition, a series of sun-filled seascapes offer the promise of a release from confinement and the restrictions that continue to affect us all.
While the exhibition reflects Goudie’s own experience of how images and the imagination can transport us from our daily concerns, it is also an inadvertent collection of works that commemorate this strange moment in time.
Thames & Hudson have recently published Goudie’s The Story of Scottish Art – a page-turning narrative full of scandals and rebellions, seismic historical events and personal tragedies that inspired or destroyed artists. It is the epic story of how 5000 years of creativity defined a nation.