Iona Leishman art exhibition

05 Jun 2014

As of 4 June 2014, heritage fine artist Iona Leishman’s new 'Warscape' collection will be exhibited throughout the centre as part of a range of commemorative events and activities.

Personal and social histories are reflected through Leishman’s vibrant new paintings of battle energy, bravery and conflict to mark June 1314, when over the course of two days, Robert Bruce took on the might of the English army and Scotland was changed forever.


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Honouring the men caught up in the tide of the battle, and the land that lasted through the momentous events, Warscape was inspired by the contemporary poetry commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland in partnership with Creative Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library for the 2012 Rotunda Inscription Project.

Ten acclaimed Scottish poets created new works inspired by Bannockburn, the battle and the landscape.

Kathleen Jamie’s poem was selected by a public vote and an expert judging panel including Scots Makar Liz Lochhead, and inscribed to the ring beam of the historic Rotunda monument.

This completed the designer’s original idea for the monument to bear an inscription when it was installed in time for the 650th anniversary of the battle 50 years ago.

The National Trust for Scotland were so impressed by the high quality and diversity of the poetry commissioned that they are now published together for the first time this year. Bannockburn 10: Poems of a Landscape is now on sale at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre priced £14.99.

The book was used by Leishman as a muse and several paintings in the Warscape exhibition are inspired by and named after lines from the poetry, for example; ‘Ghosts Without Names’ is a phrase in Aonghas Macneacail's poem: “ghosts without names, who marched, fought, limped, died, are here…”. ‘This is our Compass’ is taken from Robin Robertson’s poem, and in her painting Leishman takes Stirling Castle on its rocky spine as being the compass around which human life ebbed and flowed.

Artist Iona Leishman said: “​The potent creativity of the ​Bannockburn 10 poetry, has in turn, ​inspired my painting creativity.

"The poets richly textured words​ have provided vivid imaginings for my new Bannockburn paintings which I'm proud will be the first to be exhibited in the extraordinary new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.”

“This line taken from Valerie Gillies' Bannockburn poem: " turn a circle around the centuries,  the hoop of the nation, the ardour of our hearts" I feel encapsulates the beautifully creative circularity of this poetry and painting relationship.”

TV’s Neil Oliver recently acquired one of Iona's paintings. Neil is co-presenting the BBC's 2-part documentary series "The Quest for Bannockburn" currently airing on BBC TWO.

Neil said of Warscape:  "My own line of work is telling stories about history and archaeology. As such I have to be preoccupied with hard facts. If I'm honest though, at least half my love of those subjects comes from what I allow myself to imagine about past events, speculating about what the past felt like, smelled like and looked like.

"The joy of paintings like these by Iona Leishman is that they give free reign to imagination. Light and dark, shards of colour, foreboding, triumph and disaster - all of it suggested here and allowing the past to come to life.

"I have loved many of Iona's paintings over the years and, as a resident of Stirling, I especially enjoy catching fresh glimpses of places I know, seen through someone else's questioning and wondering eyes."

This is a disarming body of work for Leishman collectors and new audiences alike. ​

Leishman was Historic Scotland's first artist in residence at Stirling Castle (2011-12). She now works from her top of the town studio at Stirling's Cowane's Hospital which will be open to the public from 7 - 15 June 2014 as part of Forth Valley Open Studios.

Please note entry to the Warscape exhibition is free within the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre 

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