celtic connections 2010

‘Celtic Connections’ link Barbara Rae’s work from western Scotland, western Ireland and south west France. She is drawn to western coastlines for the intensity of the light as well as to communities where she feels a strong connection to the human history.

These locations with ‘Celtic Connections’ are not ‘centralized’ but places on the ‘margins’. They are ‘small countries within countries’. Barbara is drawn to the individuality and independent spirit of the Irish, the Catalans and the Basques. She celebrates these strong identities by scraping through the superficial topography of a landscape, and discovering the human stories that leave their traces on the land. Barbara investigates human markings such as roads, fences, markers and standing stones. Celtic markings and ancient symbols remind her of the history as well as the geography of the land.

For this exhibition, Barbara has revisited places that she has known for more than forty years, so she has a deep understanding of the changes that have taken place in the landscape.

Isabel Kidel


As soon as our eyes encounter one of Barbara Rae’s images, its impact is instantaneous. We find ourselves caught up at once in her sensuous, urgent and impassioned involvement with the world she explores. Far from remaining at a cautious distance from her chosen locations in Ireland, Scotland and France, Rae takes us on an irresistible journey deep into the textures of sky, earth and water. She offers a visceral experience, and we can feel the essence of the landscape invading our senses from every side.

But the sheer immediacy of Rae’s work does not mean that its appeal is soon exhausted. On the contrary: the longer we look, the more we realise that her response to the world is bound up with a profound understanding of its ancient origins. Rather than focusing solely on the present-day appearance of a particular scene, she makes us aware that it has endured for countless millennia. Moreover, its elemental identity is impregnated with haunting, mysterious marks of use by animals and humans alike.

Hence the fundamental pulse of dynamism running through all these images. There is nothing static or predictable about Rae’s art. At every turn, we become conscious of a vision informed by her profound belief that the landscape is forever in flux. It has a restless life of its own, summarised by the vitality of her mark-making. The colours she deploys here intensify the drama, challenging us to discover these Celtic connections as if for the very first time.

Richard Cork - 2010