Olivia Bush is a printmaker and book maker. Read her contribution to 'Stories within Our Isles' about how a journey through the landscape of rural Scotland, finishing in the Isle of Skye, inspired her to create a new series of prints.
The first time I noticed an obvious connection between my love of the landscape and my work, occurred during a two-week trip wild camping through Scotland. We travelled from the east to the west, dipping into icy blue-green lochs between camping spots before finally reaching the Isle of Skye as our final destination. It was the place to leave the largest mark on me in many ways.
In June, the open roads that ran for miles were lined by rust-tinted hills, broken by cars only occasionally when we reached a particularly touristy area or town. We made way for the Old Man of Storr, a popular attraction to the visitors of Skye (we later learned), but the company we had whilst trekking up the cuillin was not in the slightest off-putting when we reached the top an hour later. I have never felt so stranded, the pressing knowledge we were standing on the top of a tiny island in Scotland, on what felt like the middle of the ocean. Whichever way you turned you saw water and land, more water and more land. I felt tiny and as far from the modern world as I could ever expect to feel.
Returning home to the studio, the trip sparked my first project; a print series titled ‘Leave no Trace’. The phrase perfectly mimicked the untouched landscape and the mindful nature it held. I spent my last term of university glued to the printmaking studios with a heavy printing press in hand. The title is blind debossed into the tactile, cotton rag paper with a simple mountain shape. Fortunately enough, ‘Leave no Trace’ was seen by OR, an independent shop in Portree that embodies Scottish craft and the love of the Cuillin. We began chatting and soon collaborated on a new series of A5 prints depicting the 6 most impactful summits of the Black Cuillin, before moving onto a larger, A2 print with all 12 of the Black Cuillin on it. It’s a print for someone with a lot of space in their house!
One of the smaller prints depicts the Inaccessible Pinnacle, one of the harder summits to reach. However earlier in the year I was sent a photo from OR; their mountaineer friend had gone up the Inaccessible Pinnacle and taken my print with them! I’m not sure I will ever reach it but seeing that photo was enough.