I did not initially approach this work with any symbolism in mind. There is no coded message or secret meaning of any kind – the painting is simply a response to an actual experience of staying on the island of Stroma. Stroma is an extraordinary, elemental place and its ancient Norse name means ‘the island in the tide.’
It stands in the midst of one of the most elemental and dangerous tidal flows in the world. The Vikings were in awe of the place, and even modern seafarers navigate the Pentland Firth with fear and respect. It is a truly awesome and lonely environment, a completely deserted world of about eighty ruined houses and a few farm cottages. I stayed on my own in the old nurse’s cottage for several weeks and, during this time, the farmer took me around the island in his boat.
This is when I first took note of the beacon in the tumultuous sea, and the massive strength of the towers in the midst of the elements. These images say something to me of a people who hold their own in all the trials and storms of the wild far north of Scotland , which is now my home too. – Monique Sleidrecht