top of page

High Points - the future's behind you and the past is in front of you

I wanted to create an evocative image of the lochans, peat bogs, and low hills of North Uist by mindfully walking its high points. To convey my journey through this watery landscape, I drew with graded dilutions of Sumi ink onto a continuous fifteen-meter-long sheet of Japanese Kozo paper.

I explored the island terrain over several weeks, stopping to draw only when I had reached the top of each of the seven highest peaks. As I drew, I realised I was retracing the terrain I had just come through. But on looking ahead, realised that I couldn't yet draw the place where I was going next as I hadn't been there yet.

In western society, we see the future as something we head towards, and the past as no longer visible, and therefore behind us. But the Aymara people (Andean tribe) see things differently: the past is in front of them and the future lies behind. They gesture ahead when

remembering things past, and backward when talking about the future, identifying as paramount, the difference between what is 'known' and 'not known'. You can only see in front of you, what is known with your own eyes - the past is known, so it lies ahead of you: the future is unknown, so it lies behind you, where you haven't yet been.

High Points, 2013 (460 x 9100mm) was presented as an unfolding journey in a floor-based scroll, where a new section was displayed daily in the gallery.

bottom of page