When Izzy Thomson went on a research trip to Iceland last year, it turned out to be a formative experience. She recalls making "wobbly sorts of paintings which teased out stories about the island's aberrational atmosphere and wild spaces." One of these works 'From the Eyes’ is now on display at the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, as part of FLY with Visual Arts Scotland .
"I was drawn to Iceland because of its otherworldly quality", Izzy says, adding that she "wanted to visit the island’s moon-like terrain, as it appeared to offer me a myriad of paintable spaces."
From Reykjavik Izzy headed north to Akuyeri, the town often dubbed Iceland's second city. After a few misty nights there, Izzy took a bus south to the black beaches of Vik. Her last stop was the Westman Islands, a place she remembers as "a small clutch of dark rocks on the south coast made up of lava-land."
Izzy's visit coincided with the end of summer - just the right time to encounter the wild nature she was seeking. "The country appears less interrupted by cityscapes and is visually demanding by way of old and new volcanic activity. In Iceland there is everything in the world to look at. It's like Earth is demanding your attention, saying 'You are here, walking on the skin of my tummy.'"
Other paintings are featured in The Shape of a Mountain, an exhibition of new work at Aberdeen's Art Centre and Theatre. The focus is on Izzy's imagined experiences of wild spaces in Shetland and the Highlands of Scotland, in works intended to move the viewer into "an inside experience of outside".
Izzy was drawn to Shetland partly because she had heard it shares similarities with Iceland. "Like the allure of a Hans Christian Anderson, I knew this collection of little lands in an ocean as thick as milk would present me with dark settings for my sweet stories in paint."
"Shetland is small and easy to get around. The sea is always in sight, so it feels like you are on a boat, undulating over wavy hillsides. We camped one night on a beach in Sandness and fell asleep to the sound of sheep baaing in the storm. The wind echoed in the waves and I dreamt that I woke up in the middle of the sea."
Izzy's northern island hopping has left a lasting impression, and continues to make its mark on her work.
Izzy Thomson is a painter and a visual narrator from Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands. She recently graduated from Grays School of Art in Aberdeen and is now undertaking an awarded, year-long residency at Edinburgh’s Leith School of Art.