Back to top

john slavin

This body of work from painter born John Slavin, comes from his time living on Skye.

In his own words, John Slavin explains what it’s like to paint outdoors on the Isle of Skye in the middle of winter. “ Two hours and you’re actually physically shaking,” he says. For Slavin, though, there’s no other way to work. Like the members of the Group of Seven, the Canadian landscape painters who did so much to give their fledgling nation a sense of physical identity 100 years ago by trudging through the Ontario backwoods with easels strapped to their backs, he’s a firm believer in “the search for a site”. For him and for them, the journey is as much a part of the painting as the painting itself. “This thing of hopping into a car, of driving to a lay-by, rolling down the window, taking a photo and then going back to your studio ... no. Just no! It’s so, so important that you absorb what’s around you. It’s like Turner. I’m not a fan of Turner but being tied to the mast and being in the storm – that says everything to me. You’ve got to be in the place, and it has to be on foot.”

Slavin was born in Falkirk in 1956 and studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1975-80. He was taught by Peploe, Blackadder and Philipson, but if there’s an obvious influence on his painting it’s the Group of Seven, specifically the unofficial leader of the group, Lawren Harris. The Canadian artist had a knack of condensing complex landscapes down to their bare essentials, and in John's work, he too strips the landscape down to its core and creates a dreamlike vision of the waterways and mountains of Skye.