“Beach” is part of a series by Colin Black connected to Iona, celebrating the scenic beauty of the island, its history and its Christian heritage. This piece uses heightened colour and a low perspective for an evening view of Iona’s landscape. Paper strips, scraps of material and fragments of map create an interesting collage in the lower half of the painting.
The evening sky was painted before the addition of the collage, forming a background of vivid orange and light peach. A purple-grey band indicates the hills, while a strip of pale turquoise represents the sea. Muddier shades of ochre, dull pink and brown dominate the lower half of the painting. The perspective is low, suggesting a wide expanse of beach and moorland, possibly with a wall stretching diagonally downwards from the beach.
The collage in this section is complex, consisting of two large scraps of material. A linen rectangle starts near the bottom left corner of the painting: it is sand-coloured and is partially covered by other pieces of collage. A roughly torn piece of olive and pink cotton lies diagonally over the linen. Its frayed upper edge forms the “wall” on the beach. These pieces may be chosen simply for their colours, but may also represent objects found on the beach.
As in other of his Iona paintings, Black includes two very small fragments of printed paper. One contains some Celtic lettering, possibly from a medieval manuscript. The other is a piece of a map, with the words “Crammond steps”, which presents a puzzle to the viewer, since it does not refer to a location with any obvious links to Iona.
Colin Black studied Graphic Design at Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. He worked in London for fourteen years at major design practices before starting his teaching career. He is currently a member of staff at Leith School of Art and exhibits regularly at the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh.