A new work on paper based on constellations visible from the Isle of Bute in the 7th century.

Revisiting the Isle of Bute in October 2019 enabled the opportunity to visit the coast at Straad on the west of the island and a pilgrimage of sorts to the site of St Ninian’s Chapel. The remains of the building from the 6th-7th century are situated on a narrow spit of land with spectacular views over the sound to the Isle of Arran. What I found there elicited a whole body of work which resulted in an exhibition and this piece described here.

The Ninian Triptych, Ink and gouache on watercolour paper, 168x76cm (2020)
from L-R: Cygnus, Ophiuchus, Boötes

The work describes an imagined view west from the chapel at dawn on the 16th September 432AD, the date historically associated with the death of the saint, and which remains his feast day.

Each panel features a meticulously composed arrangement of the constellations visible, primarily Cygnus, Ophiuchus and Boötes, above a dream-like landscape created using ink chromatography on an epic scale.

The Ninian Triptych, (Detail) Cygnus

The landscape dissolves into the sky and the sky suggests distant views from Bute… the saint or whoever venerated him in this remote place might also have recognised some of the features here. In creating the work this connection, rather miraculously, was made manifest.

Credit: The re-creation of the star maps was made possible with thanks to the IAU and the wonderful Stellarium.