Exhibition explores 'mystery and gravity'

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 15:42 18/07/2013
kit macgregor

HIGHLAND STORY: Works by Oamaru artist Kit Macgregor look at turbulent times in Scottish history.

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Oamaru artist Kit Macgregor is the focus of an exhibition at Forrester Gallery's basement gallery this month.

Black Water & Other Stories, which features 11 oil paintings, is a response to a trip the artist took in 2012 to the Scottish Highlands.

Mr Macgregor says last year he was invited to the opening of an exhibition at the Agora Gallery in New York, which featured a pair of his paintings.

The trip enabled him to travel on to Scotland.

"I was drawn to Scotland by my ancestry, which I have traced back to the Highlands and the stories they hold. From the smallest burn to the great glen, the highland waters appear an oily black. I found this intriguing as it added a mystery and gravity to what already is a physically beautiful landscape."

Mr Macgregor says he was struck by the emptiness, the absence of people and the sense of something missing.

"I wanted these paintings to be dramatic but reflect the emptiness I felt in knowing a whole culture had been swept aside and away. Every painting tells a story, even if it's just the approach of a storm. Three of the paintings are a direct response to what are known today as the Highland Clearances."

Exhibition curator Alice Lake-Hammond, says "the clearances" refer to the forced displacement of a number of people in the Scottish Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries.

"Wealthy landowners, supported by the government, brutally evicted whole communities of people from the land, replacing them with sheep in order to generate more revenue.

"They cleared not only the land but the culture and history, effectively destroying the clan system and its traditions.

"Black Water & Other Stories connects those stories to our own local Scottish heritage, with many of the early settlers to the North Otago region having travelled to New Zealand from Scotland in search of a new and better life. The exhibition will resonate with a wide audience, for both the skill of the paintings and the significance of their content."

Mr Macgregor has been painting for 15 years and has had work on display at Oamaru's Whiskey Gallery, The Artist Room in Dunedin and Auckland's Flagstaff Gallery.

The exhibition runs until August 4.

WAITAKI HERALD

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