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A Question of Scale

Eaglesham Moor Wind Farm - Near GlasgowUntil around 1990 my sight was very good.  Then as it deteriorated I found that I had to interpret what I saw in a completely different way.  This has taken quite a lot of adjustment over many years and now after a lengthy period of fairly stable vision, I move around with surprising ease, particularly in places that are familiar to me.

One of the big problems is judging  the scale of things. When I’m in a man made environment this isn’t such a big deal.  Even if I can’t see a car or a building with any clarity, I know that a fuzzy blob at the side of a road is almost certainly a vehicle; whilst a smaller one moving on the pavement is likely to be a person.  One can make fairly sound assumptions of what something is and what size it is, even when it is very unclear.  When I’m out on a hill however, things are much more complicated.  In a completely natural environment judging scale is a real difficulty.  One might be able to see a large feature showing against the grass or heather …and quite reasonably be able to interpret that as a rocky outcrop ….but of course there’s nothing to say what size it is.  On many occasions I’ve seen rocks ahead of me that I’ve judged as being a certain size …say 3 – 4 metres high and about 10 metres distance …only to find it’s a 30 – 40 metre crag at 100 metres distance.  It’s quite a strange feeling and it makes it very difficult when trying to navigate.

As for the paintings though, it makes it quite interesting.  A lot of the works I do have a similar ambiguity which mimics the way I experience the natural landscape.

Last week however I had quite a strange experience whilst we were out walking locally.  A friend had suggested that for a change we drive the few miles to the Eaglesham moors, where a few years ago was built Europe’s largest wind farm.  I’m not sure of the exact statistics but it covers something in the region of 50 square kilometers and contains around 140 turbines.  I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical but agreed that it’d be interesting and different and off we went.

Landscape photo of Eaglesham Moor wind farm.It was an amazing day.  The moors themselves are quite beautiful, wild and generally feature-less but in places with expansive views out towards the Glasgow conurbation.  It was a stunning day weather wise too, with bright sunshine and large roving rain showers, producing amazing colours and contrasts.  The most mind blowing bit though was the turbines.  Man made as they were; set in this bleak landscape, I found it almost impossible to assess their size, and the distance between each of them.  They were in fact, huge,  each one of them around 55m high and each one with three colossal 45m blades.  With my sight so limited I could only see the nearest of the turbines and so as we walked through this massive moor land site, the views were almost always the same to me.  It reminded me of what they say about the universe looks the same from where ever you are.

I have not really painted any man made structures for quite a few years, but this place started to get me thinking.  I’m tempted to do some drawings and paintings that try and put over something of this amazing mixture of moor land and modern technology….though quite how I’ll do it is another question.  Anyway, time enough for that.

Wind Farm on Eaglesham Moor - Scotland

One final strange thing though was that while the wind turbines looked incredibly graceful when we were out walking amongst them, (each one turning in the breeze), when I got back and looked at the photos I’d snapped, ….in this static state the structures looked much more awkward, and rather out of proportion …the movement gave them their beauty it seems.