This piece is part of a series by Colin Black connected to Iona, celebrating the scenic beauty of the island, its history and its Christian heritage. It is a seascape marking the arrival of St Columba to Iona, which combines a naturalistic depiction of a bay with man-made elements of collage.
The pale yellow sky above the beach with a blue sun at its centre suggests a bright, inverted dawn. Below the sky, the curved strips of turquoise and lime-green suggest the rolling landscape of the island, forming a horizon. The sea that takes up most of the space is composed of various shades of blue. Towards the foreground, a great arc of dark blue suggests the entrance to a bay, and green-brown patches indicate the point where the sea meets the shore.
The most striking feature is the figure of the saint himself, which has been cut from a medieval manuscript. Columba is garbed in a red robe and adorned by a golden halo, standing on his “boat” - a cloud-like shape overlaid with a brown pattern - facing towards the land as if arriving from a voyage.
There are additional scraps of manuscript near the bottom edge of the painting: one fragment in blue and pink in the lower centre suggests the archway of an ornate church door; a more puzzling pink section in the lower-right appears to display the letters “NCII”, presumably part of a Latin word taken from a manuscript. It is partially covered by a rectangle composed of old metal with one large circle and six smaller circles. It may once have been part of a door, with holes for handle and nails, and refer to the monastery built by Columba and his companions.
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.