Mesmerising, ethereal, elusive and arguably one of nature's most impressive displays, the northern lights have proved a worthy subject for Richard Rowan's Aurora Borealis collection.
In the pursuit of perfection, Richard travelled to Iceland for the first time to witness this marvel for himself. Accompanied by a local photographer and filmmaker, he was able to explore locations far from the usual tourist trail, which entailed driving out into the wilds, walking in the darkness and waiting in the cold for the magic of the aurora to begin. He was rewarded by impossibly wide skies full of vivid colours, shooting rays, a magical glow and a hypnotic dancing of light which almost appeared to be breathing. Yet, through it all, Richard was most moved that all of this seemingly frenetic activity in the sky took place in complete silence.
Family being central to his work, Richard took his wife and two children with him to Iceland so that they could experience the aurora for themselves, and better understand his quest to capture this natural phenomenon in his paintings. The theme of family in this collection of work is represented through the inclusion of trees in the pieces. Trees often feature in Richard's work, symbolising both his last name 'the Rowan tree' and the branches of his growing family. Whilst pine trees are common in the Icelandic landscape, Richard was able to locate some rare uncommon Rowan trees that feature in "Jewel of the Night' and 'Light Dancing'.
The aurora is a notoriously difficult subject matter for photographers or artists to capture because of its sheer magnitude and the subtle variations of colour, but Richard's artistic practice demands that he challenge himself by undertaking difficult work and forging new techniques. His precise and painstaking 'back to front' method of applying oils on glass, working from the foreground backwards, lends itself beautifully to the subject matter. With each layer needing up to two weeks to dry, before the aurora was added as the final element, timing truly is everything.