Siobhan McLaughlin's reflective practice combines the likes of shepherd's prose with personal and individual lived experiences which translate a sense of place and self onto a physical, large-scale canvas. These carefully constructed mixed-media canvases are the foundations of Siobhan's immersive abstract landscapes, which have the ability to envelop and engulf any viewer in their perimeter. The haptic and tactile qualities encompassed by these textile canvases often contest the layers of thickly spread paint or considerately placed oil pastel which generate delicate subtleties in the surface texture of the folds and ridges of her canvases.
Hi Siobhan. It's great to speak to you and we love your work! You talk about how inspired you are by specific landscapes, which is particularly interesting because of the current climate. Since our time outside is so restricted due to having to self-isolate currently, we want to know how this has affected the way you are working. How has your making process changed due to your limited time outside?
Self-isolating has meant that instead of physically gathering research, this period is a time for reflection. My work over the past year has developed from photographs and drawings gathered while following a walk written about in Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain, 1977. Shepherd’s prose taught me new ways of approaching the landscape, in that ‘we should not walk up a mountain, but into them, thus exploring ourselves as well as them’. Grappling with my practice following a car accident, I use the sensory experience of walking, translated into the physicality of large-scale painting, to process my sense of place in the world.
Although I can’t hike up a Munro in the Cairngorms just now, I can continue to reflect on my experience and translate these thoughts into my paintings. Instead of worrying about limited time outside in the landscape, I’ve explored it differently. Robert Macfarlane, who wrote the introduction to Shepherd’s book, started an online ‘lockdown reading group’ discussing The Living Mountain. Engaging with that and reading others’ responses to Shepherd’s writings has given me lots of think about.