So being in fourth and final year at Art School, I had to write a Dissertation.

It’s one of those dreaded things but once it is done and out of the way, you will never believe you got through it!

However mines is all done, printed, bound and sent off to be examined! I handed it in on the 13th of January and couldn’t be happier. I realised throughout writing the dissertation, that I ended up enjoying writing it, I found my subject very interesting, and the more I researched into the chosen subject and read up on articles and books, I found I had a valid point and wanted to keep writing.

Anyway, here’s the title of mines.

‘Genius Loci at sacred sites on the North West of Scotland.’
An exploration into the Genius Loci which is found in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and what factors contribute to this atmosphere.

You’ll realise that this ties together completely with my overall Art Practise so whenever I researched and developed the subject more, I gained more inspiration for my artwork. It also gave me an excuse to travel more to the remote places of Scotland as they were the places I was writing about.

I based the whole dissertation on 3 places and for each one wrote about what factors made up the ‘Genius Loci’ – spirit of place in the area. I ventured out to Calanais on the Isle of Lewis where the famous standing stones are. I also travelled to the Isle of Iona for the second time, this time identifying with the land more and getting a lot more documentation for the writing, and lastly Glen Coe which is possibly my favourite Glen in the whole of Scotland). So with these three places in mind and well researched, I started identifying with all the possible factors that make up the spirit of place within an area. I realised that it is made up of the weather, the location, the representation, the spoken word of the place, the representation, the history, the folklore and a few more. I find this subject very interesting and if you would like to read more about my Dissertation and the whole 8000 words of it just send me a message!

I  concluded that there are many factors that make up the genius loci within sacred sites around North West Scotland, all fusing together in different ways at each site. I found many difficulties in trying to clarify these factors in a way that seems truthful to establishing the spirit of the place or even finding the terms to define them. But in a way, each factor does play a part in merging with the others to produce the genius loci. The overwhelming landscapes, remote locations, documented and oral histories, monuments, folklore, artistic representation and crucially, the receptiveness of certain people who want to make a connection to something unseen, all join together to produce the genius loci. And for each place, the genius loci is determined by different combinations of these factors.

Genius loci then is largely subjective and these are the connected factors which contribute to a sublime atmosphere. However, as I found at the age of ten, from my first visit to Glen Coe, there is something intrinsic within these sites that connects with us naturally. There is something brought by the viewer and there is something projected by the object – but there is also what fills the space between the two.


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