‘Others have seen what is and why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.’ – Pablo Picasso
There is a wonderful openness in the understanding that we all see things differently, with the idea of many possibilities being fundamental to the concept of creativity. A powerful and relevant message outside the boundaries of art however it is certainly more tangible when looking at an artist’s body of work and directly experiencing their unique and personal expression.
The landscapes of artist Moy Mackay voice a dreamlike feast of vibrant colour with an air of magical wonder, a glimpse of a world where this colour reigns supreme and skill of hand forces the viewer to look closer and then closer again. The picture itself lends itself comfortably to the frame and glass façade but it is not as first glimpse might suggest, built upon painted swaths of oils on canvas. It’s a rather more intricate process involving layers of detailed application using tools of the traditional crafter.
‘I use merino fibres as my base, building up layers of colour and form [much in the same way] as a painter would use paint. My set of carders, which are just like giant dog brushes is my palette. The beauty of this method is that I can move parts I am not happy with until I find the correct place for it, without waiting for paint to dry. Once finished I will cover the work with a fine mesh and then add soap and hot water to matt the fibres together by agitating,’ Moy explains. This is the first of four processes, the second is needle felting where she uses fine barbed needles to add fibres and thirdly through use of a sewing machine, but without a guiding foot allowing her to manoeuvre the work and use it for fine lines and mark making before lastly adding another level of texture to the work with hand stitches.
The result is as unique as it is fascinating, a rich landscape that the iconic legend of colour and pattern, Kaffe Fassett was to comment and admire, “Moy’s passionate use of colour and deep texture created by felting are what draws me to her work. I also like the way she concentrates her surroundings for her subject matter – her work is very free.’ Lavender Dream is beautiful, whisps of fibre offer an ethereal delicacy, of stories and possibilities and Prussian Sky, Plockton depicts a scene of heightened vibrancy, bold in colour and atmosphere.
Moy’s reach through her unique practise and the paintings themselves attract an appreciative global audience, one which may not as yet be fully accepted into the mould of the traditionalists. ‘I was a contestant on the Sky Arts programme Landscape Artist of the Year in 2016. It was great to receive feedback from the three judges but I fear one may have not quite been ready for this medium, she tells me. Adding, ‘the main reason I applied was that I wanted to see if such a show, that had been mainly focusing on paint, despite being called Landscape Artist not Painter of the year, would be open to my form of painting. Since my days at art school I was always very well aware of the divide, snobbery even, that seems to exist between what is seen as fine art and what is craft, design or anything else for that matter. I was keen to try do my little bit towards bridging that gap and thought how better than on national television!’
With two very successful published books, pictures hanging in private collections around the world and a third book, ‘The Art of Moy Mackay’ due out late 2018 there is a widespread fascination and love for Moy’s paintings. “I am very excited about this one as it is going to be quite different from the first two. My new book is going back to basics in a way, a bit like a first year at art school. It hopefully will have more of a sketchbook feel with lots of ideas, drawings, colour swatches etc. within the pages. The idea is to take readers back to the beginning to create their own compositions, [by way of] becoming more aware of their surroundings.’
This intention to give yourself permission to start again, to look differently at the world is a liberating scenario and what better way to begin a new, fresh look at the way we see than through the medium of art. “It’s amazing that often we don’t actually look at what is around us. Cloud formation, different lights and different times of the day, years etc. Simple things but things we often don’t give much thought to. I find when I teach people they will later get in touch saying how they have just started noticing all sorts of things around them that they may not have given much thought to in the past,” she says. The wonderful thing is, the possibilities are endless and the results will undoubtedly be fruitful and perfectly individual, fuelling the energy and spirit of creativity and very much opening the question up as Picasso states, from the “what is,” to the ‘why not.’
Moys paintings are available in The Thistle Gallery, Park Road, Glasgow and Lemond Gallery, Bearsden, Glasgow