Hazel Walker’s ‘Sheepcraig, Fair Isle’ is a large painting depicting the famous Sheep Craig, or Sheep Rock, which rises to over one hundred metres on Fair Isle between Orkney and Shetland in the north of Scotland. The island is famous for its birds, historic shipwrecks and traditional knitwear, and is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
This piece depicts a north-eastern view of the Craig with the Fair Isle Kirk of the Church of Scotland to the right. The Church – one of two on the island – was built in 1892 and is made out of white painted stone. In this sense Walker paints an accurate depiction of the landscape even if her rendering is more abstract than reality. Although Walker uses quick brushstrokes she has painted a variety of forms with an assortment of colours that attract the viewer's eye.
Walker has used a range of colours in this piece: yellow and green for the grass and fields which blend with brown and black for the Sheep Rock, whereas white is predominantly used for the church. There are also dashes of purple, and the use of Impressionist colour gives the painting a dream-like character. The sky is egg white and brings the other colours into perfect harmony.
The landscape’s forms are exaggerated: the road swerves drastically, painted with quick brushstrokes to give the impression of speed. The church, although depicted accurately, has an unreal quality. The Craig is also impressive and domineering but not daunting: rather, it looms protectively over the field and church.
Hazel Walker (b. 1963) is a Scottish artist born in Torphins, near Aberdeen. She studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art between 1981-85 and later gained an MA in drawing at Wimbledon School of Art in London from 1999-2000. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions and has won awards for her achievements in the arts. This painting differs from her later works, in which the landscapes are bleak and contain an eerie-like quality.
With thanks to Culturehall for information about this artist