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A waterfall of light and colour in Dunbeath

By David G Scott

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GERMAN artist Tanja Leonhardt's new show at Dunbeath Heritage Museum blends nature and silken webs into a colourful and poetic tapestry.

Tanja was present on Monday at the opening of the exhibition, Languages in Silk – Landart and Artistbooks, and talked about how the landscape of Caithness and the Flow Country is the perfect backdrop for her work.

Tanja Leonhardt at her show in Dunbeath Heritage Museum.
Tanja Leonhardt at her show in Dunbeath Heritage Museum.

"I've found it hard to define what this work is. Maybe they're tapestries or banners but at the moment I call them flags," she said.

The woven silk banners are dyed in myriad translucent colours and contain poetic phrases executed in a bold calligraphy. A video of Tanja's work shows the banners flying free in the landscape.

She said: "I love the landscape here. It is so reduced to the minimal elements and everything that doesn't have proper roots is just blown away. I love the strength of the elements here – it's very different from the town where I live in Germany, Schotten."

Tanja said that she wanted to take her art and calligraphy into nature but not to "try and be superior to it in any way".

She explained: "That's why I use silk, as it's very transparent, fine material and you can look through it at the landscape around. The landscape here is like a song and every voice is to be heard at the same time – the water, light, the animals and with my words within it and the movement of the flags.

The new show by Tanja Leonhardt is called Languages in Silk – Landart and Artistbooks.
The new show by Tanja Leonhardt is called Languages in Silk – Landart and Artistbooks.

"I do not seek to dominate the landscape but work within it."

Languages in Silk focuses on shapes, movements, light and time and was made for the museum as Tanja’s response to the writing of Neil Gunn and her love of the Caithness countryside and Orkney.

Working on this project over the past three years, Tanja exposed her calligraphy banners to the elements in various far north locations and the atmospheres of different seasons.

These experiments, fusing poetry, colour and landscape have been captured on video and can also be seen at the Dunbeath show.

Tanja also has various "artist books" to leaf through which are made of thick, handmade paper creating visual poetry with fluid art forms.

The exhibition runs until Friday, July 19, and is free.

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