Although I won’t be going until 2015, the Shetland residency has me voraciously researching all things Shetland.
Right now it is Aurora Borealis season, and I have joined a few sites that have been posting absolutely spellbinding images and videos. I
doubt I will ever experience seeing the ‘mirrie dancers’ live (I will be there in
Spring) but have interpreted my response via paint-
February, Mirrie Dancers, encaustic on panels, 12x14in, copyright Jan Yates, 2014
I had fanciful thoughts about a romantic origin to the Scottish
name for the Northern lights, so was a wee bit
taken aback when I read this:
the northern lights were known as "the mirrie dancers" or na
fir-chlis. There are many old sayings about them, including the Scottish Gaelic
proverb "When the mirrie dancers play, they are like to slay." The
playfulness of the mirrie dancers was supposed to end occasionally in quite a
serious fight, and next morning when children saw patches of red lichen on the
stones, they say among themselves that "the mirrie dancers bled each other
February, Mirrie Dancers 2, encaustic on panel, 4x7in, copyright Jan Yates, 2014
My favourite interpretation comes from the Inuit:
The Inuit people of Alaska
tell the traditional tale of their ancient ancestors who are seen in the
rippling movements of the northern lights. They say that the
"shadows" within the display are relatives and friends who have gone
to the sky and march along or dance to remind the living people of their
presence. When the dogs bark and howl at the sounds of the aurora borealis,
it's said that the dogs recognize their one-time companions in the colourful display.
These sessions are enjoyable for those who have taken an introductory
encaustic class and want to further explore this alluring and tactile medium. I
will share techniques including image transfer/collage, colour, glazing, relief,
and drawing with charcoal, graphite and pastel.
Participants will also explore alternative media
incorporated with encaustic including sand, plaster, metallic pigment and
Firefly Moondance, copyright Jan Yates
*Encaustic painting is natural, safe and non-toxic. Ancient
and intriguing, this method of painting originated in Greece, where
it was used for the earliest easel and mural painting. A heady combination of
colour, melting wax and heat, encaustic mixes dry and oil pigments in hot
Grimsby Public Art Gallery
22, March 1, and March 8, 2014
- 4pm To
register, please contact the Gallery! (905) 945-3246 or
I am beyond thrilled to announce that Wasps studios has awarded me a residency and am honoured to say that I will be living and making art at The Booth in Scalloway, Shetland for a month!
twice travelling to Scotland
(Wester Ross & Skye) I found the experiences to be profound and haunting, imprinting
a deep resonance long after my return to
Canada. Unfortunately I was unable to
spend time making art on these visits. The idea of returning to Scotland and spending a
sustained amount of time immersed in my arts practice has come to fruition.
I am eager to explore Shetland- a new land and culture so removed from my own!
It's not the case, though some might wish it so Who from a window watch the blizzard blow White riot through their branches vague and stark, That they keep snug beneath their pelted bark. They take affliction in until it jells To crystal ice between their frozen cells, And each of them is inwardly a vault Of jewels rigorous and free of fault, Unglimpsed until in May it gently bears A sudden crop of green-pronged solitaires. -Richard Wilbur, Orchard Trees, January
January, (winter sleep) oil on canvas, 40x48in, diptych