PAINTERS, poets and photographers have all captured the beauty of Marsden Rock over the years.
Artist Keith McIntyre has done so with the simplest of tools, paper and ink, but on a large scale for his new exhibition, Moladh Marsden Rock.
It is on show at the Customs House Gallery in South Shields, but its roots lie in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
Since his last exhibition at the Mill Dam arts venue, McIntyre has been converting a listed church on the remote island of Berneray into a holiday home and artists’ studio.
It featured on Channel 4’s Restoration Man, with George Clark, last month and has provided Mr McIntyre with an unusual subject for his work.
“I learned a lot about stone,” said Mr McIntyre, 53, who lives with wife Sheena in Newcastle and is head of art at Northumbria University.
“A whacking great big piece of stone was cut out of a hill to build the church.
“This way of using stone and how it changes shape and form and the effect on the environment was something that really interested me.
“My two sons are studying geography at university and they were telling me about the history of the rock in the Western Isles.
“I found myself doing lots of drawings about these rocks.”
Closer to home, he remembered the impact Marsden Rock had on him when he first came to the North East 20 years ago.
“It was a stunning feature in the landscape and I was completely in awe of it,” he said.
“When it collapsed in 1996 I remember feeling really gutted, because it was such a beautiful thing that had been immortalised by so many artists, poets, amateur photographers and painters.
“These memories came back to me and I went back down about six months ago to see what was left.
“I started taking some drawings of it, partly inspired by what I was doing in the Outer Hebrides.
“Out of that started emerging an exhibition where I could look at images of the rock from the past and look at its history.”
Mr McIntyre, originally from Edinburgh, started collecting postcards featuring images of the rock.
“The way the rock had been immortalised and sent all over the world in the form of postcards really interested me,” he said.
Some of his postcards form part of the exhibition, along with photographs and short, quirky performance pieces, all celebrating the coastal landmark.
In Gaelic, the word ‘Moladh’ translates as ‘in praise of’ and is commonly used by poets as a title prefix to a place or person, one that is to be celebrated and worthy of a personal salutation.
Esen Kaya, visual arts curator at the Customs House, said: “This exhibition examines a moladh thematic with Marsden Rock as its subject.
Mr McIntyre has in recent years been producing a series of large-scale drawings in response to specific geographical locations in the North East.
“These ink on paper works interrogate the geological forms of their subject and resonate a graphic aesthetic that echoes earlier transcriptions in engravings and postcards; a once popular method of capturing memories and sharing our experiences of places that collectively fire our imagination.”
Mr McIntyre’s previous exhibition at the Customs House featured big drawings inspired by the theatre’s pantomimes.
He said: “I played around with lots of paper and card and made a lot of images and drawings based around the pantomime and I was invited to do a second show.”
Moladh Marsden Rock runs until March 24. The gallery is open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and from noon until 8pm on Sunday.
* A free artist’s talk is being given on Friday at 10am. Call 427 8199 for details.