Leaving the Black Sea
By Robert Maclaurin

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Year
1993
Media
Printmaking
Subject Matter
People - Sea and Boats
Reg. Number
P508
Size
65 x 83 cm

When first looking upon this image it does not offer much of an explanation of the title 'Leaving the Black Sea', other than the image of an ocean and a couple standing before it, but upon closer inspection, it can be seen that there are many subtle effects used to evoke an emotion or realisation. The strange mix of colours used is a first sign that all is not at face value. The colours used sit uneasily together, such as the pink and turquoise hues which seem to blend and swirl together. Whilst very subtle, they give an almost unnatural or unreal feeling to the image. Another effect which causes this sensation is the two small figures in the centre of the piece. They are very unassuming and in black, but when looking more closely they seem to be almost transparent and it cannot be discerned whether they are facing away from the sea or into the sea. These ghostly figures appear to be a woman and man, assessed from the heights and body shapes, but it is difficult to tell. They also appear to be wearing some sort of headwear: hats or even crowns. Are they walking away or towards the sea? Are they physically there or spiritually?

This is definitely a very typical piece of the artist Robert Maclaurin, as he likes to create a sense of place and convey an emotion felt at that place in time. Although the sea looks calm, it's almost as if it is the 'calm before the storm', as there is an ominous consciousness where the colours seep into one another, as though they are water themselves, especially in the sky where the colours are blotched and in some areas cracked. The sea reflects specks of gold from the sky, but this is engulfed in the black streaks in the sea and upon the pier where the couple stand. The pier and the sea almost merge as one.

Robert often uses his sketchbook to sketch ideas which he then recreates in his studio. Often he will sketch out a scene and incorporate how he feels at that time, or about that place and this will infiltrate the large canvas pieces he completes in the studio. The art is very much about the emotion felt in that time and space, rather than a factual imitation of the place. It conveys much more than merely the scene itself. Robert has travelled to many different countries to study the landscapes there, his pieces including scenes from Turkey, Middle East Asia, Slovenia, Australia and the UK. His sketchbooks are never shown or exhibited, only the finished pieces and perhaps some photographs from his personal preliminary stages of the work. He usually works in paint, but in his later pieces turned to printmaking also.

One of Scotland's best known artists and painters, Robert Maclaurin, an Edinburgh College of Art student, focuses on landscape painting. Robert was born in Scotland but in 2001 relocated to Australia where most of his work is now shown and exhibited by Australian galleries. He has had many individual and group exhibitions in his career and his work is widely collected through Europe and America. In his time he has won many scholarships, commissions and awards for the contribution his work has provided to the art scene of Scotland. In 1984 Robert spent the best part of twelve years travelling around and documenting places he experienced in Anatolia (Turkey and Middle East Asia).

Robert Maclaurin's website

With thanks to the BBC for artist information

With thanks to the Compass Gallery for artist information

With thanks to the Arts Open for artist information