Victoria Crowe: Touching the Surface

—the Orkney Paintings

31 August-9 November 2024

Pier Arts Centre, Stromness: Tues-Sat 1030-1700 Admission Free

Victoria Crowe made two trips to Orkney as part of her Royal Scottish Academy/Pier Arts Centre Residency award in 2022. She looked specifically at the contrasting light around the summer and winter solstice, the two most extreme periods of the celestial cycle. Her intention was to “explore the light on the land and its margins during the long twilights of the Orkney summer solstice, then return to experience the short days, long darkness and luminous skies of winter”.

Victoria Crowe is one of Scotland’s leading painters, known for her evocative landscapes and portraits of subjects including scientist Professor Peter Higgs, psychiatrist R.D. Laing and composer Thea Musgrave.

Occluded Sky and Headland, Orkney, 2023 © the artist
oil on panel, 82 x 61 cm

Low Winter Sun, Links House Window, 2023 © the artist
oil on panel, 96 x 76 cm


  • Paintings by the Italian artist Paola Folicaldi Suh of the Shackleton Antarctic expedition of 1914-17, in this 150th anniversary year of the birth of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The paintings, developed from the photographs and diaries of expedition photographer Frank Hurley, are on canvases made with upholstery fabrics.

  • More images inspired by the influence of Dr Kathleen Drew Baker on the Japanese seaweed industry. It will include over a dozen artists who work with seaweed in printmaking, photography, painting, textiles and sculpture. Among them are Alison Clark, Alison Moore, Ingrid Budge, Megumi Barrington Uenoyama, Yvonne Harcus, Julia Lohmann, Mollie Goldstrom & William Arnold, Rebecca Marr, Ami Robb and Ingrid Stout.

  • Three exhibitions are woven together in the gallery near the harbour front. Mother of the Sea is linked to the Northlight Gallery exhibition. A Fragile Correspondence was commissioned by Scotland + Venice to bring writers, artists and architects together to look at language and landscape, including Orkney’s seashore and the vanished Orkney Norn language. Earthbound Orkney features techniques of building in earth and stone in the Orcadian Neolithic.

  • “The shore dweller has companionship with the free world of nature,” wrote the Orkney poet and shell expert Robert Rendall. “There is always life and movement, birds flying about, waves breaking, salt winds blowing, an occasional seal in the bay, seapinks and other flowers giving colour to the foreshore.” The Orkney shore, its beaches and rock pools, and the life around it, forms the theme for this year’s Orkney Camera Club exhibition.

  • A new introductory display created by Callum Potter, former president of the British Astronomical Society. Great Comets which are easily visible to the casual viewer are rare, but there are now thousands known to reside around our solar system. The display depicts comets in history from Halley to Neowise, along with the science behind comets, space missions to comets, and photographs of comets in the 20th and 21st century.

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