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Talking Stones

Echoes of Clearance sites in the Highlands and Islands.

Found stones litter clearance sites.
Fallen from the crofts 
of people replaced by sheep .
These displaced stones, now beautiful and reclaimed by nature, have a story to tell. 
More poignant perhaps than the monuments erected


When I came across these randomly scattered stones lying in the long grass, I discovered they had a story to tell. They were from the homes of people who were 'cleared' in the 1800s. 

These stones were beautiful in shape, colour and texture; to me, they represented the displacement of people and their suffering. 

Exploring these connections, I looked at the relationship between the natural beauty of the stones, the families occupying the dwellings and their removal to another site. 

This body of work contains seven large-scale paintings in oils and textured mediums. One painting depicts colour silhouettes of the six found stones in the grass, and six paintings are these individual textured stones on their representational coloured backgrounds. 

The work is likened to a child's picture book, colourful and playful and displayed like a book or on the floor like actual stones. - Beverley Rouwen



The history of the Highland Clearances is more complex than sometimes portrayed but the impact on those displaced is undeniable.  The tourist information at Badbea, a clearance site just 10 miles from my grandparents croft in Caithness, talks of children being tethered to prevent them being blown off the cliffs.  This grim  image prompted me to make a totemic tether from rough black clay.  The coloured rings were added later to reflect the children's unbroken, playful spirit.  

Visitors to that part of Scotland cannot but notice the 100ft hilltop monument to the Duke of Sutherland who was closely associated with the clearances.  My abstract "monument" to the displaced is fragmented to reflect their broken heritage.  The pieces are handbuilt from unglazed black ceramic.- Douglas Reeve

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