15. Whiting Bay / Am Bàgh
Listen to Gaelic translation
Whiting Bay, the third largest settlement on Arran, and once a thriving tourist destination during the Edwardian era is still home to some of the finest villas on the island.
Today the village still boasts one of the finest walks on Arran, taking visitors from the coast via an iron age fort to the dramatic Glenashdale falls. This walk also includes a visit to 'The Giants Graves' two neolithic chambered tombs high above the village which give spectacular views to the Holy Isle and the mountains of Arran to the North.
Whiting Bay is an important site in the post-war life of the island, and site of the former Arran Gallery at St Columba's Church which, aside from being run by the Gill family of artists and makers, showed a wide range of contemporary Scottish artists on the island, including Alasdair Gray, James Gorman and Alan Davie among others.
It is therefore unsurprising that sculptor Bruce Maclean chose Whiting Bay to make his innovative 'Seaskape' work in Largiebeg in 1969.
In this piece Maclean attempted to "let the sea make a mark, a perfect pure mark, over which I had little control'. Unfortunately for Maclean, the sea had other ideas and the work floated out on the tide.
The island continues to attract high profile contemporary artists such as Hamish Fulton, Richard DeMarco, Duncan Shanks, and Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger, all of whom have made work on Arran.
Duncan Shanks was born in Airdrie and studied at Glasgow School of Art where he later lectured. He draws his subjects and inspiration from the countryside around his home in the Clyde Valley. Strong colour and richly applied paint chart the changing seasons and the forces imminent in nature. His works also examine the perennial tasks and practices of traditional rural life.
'Duncan Shanks is a committed and self-aware modernist. Nevertheless he chose from the beginning of his career the apparently old-fashioned idiom of landscape... his pictures reach beyond abstraction to achieve, in his own words, "a fusion of the actual and the abstract.’"'
- Duncan MacMillan, Author and art critic
Duncan Shanks sketchbook collection:
The Hunterian’s collection of sketchbooks by Duncan Shanks provides a unique insight into one artist’s remarkable journey through the creative process.
Publicity-shy and reluctant to be involved with the social aspects of the art world and its institutions, Duncan Shanks (born 1937) is an important Scottish landscape painter who has remained largely unknown to the wider public, even though his art is much admired in Scottish academic and art circles. He lives with his wife, a fellow artist, in the small village of Crossford by the Clyde, some twenty miles south-east of Glasgow.
In the last five decades, he has filled more than 100 sketchbooks with a wide variety of drawings, from simple recordings of his surroundings to exploratory studies investigating complex subjects and more finished drawings. Never shown to anyone, these have been the anchor of his life as an artist.
The long standing relationship between Shanks and The Hunterian, which dates back to the early 1990s, led the artist to gift his entire collection of 106 sketchbooks to the University in 2013.
The Duncan Shanks sketchbook collection:
The Scottish Gallery biography of Duncan Shanks