recent paintings and news

recent paintings and news

Friday, February 28, 2014

Aurora Borealis

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: 

‘In Scotland, 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 last night".

 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.

Read more info on the northern lights here 

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