Hazy Dream of Translucence: Lynsey MacKenzie

Isla Valentine Wade reflects on Lynsey MacKenzie's paintings, in a piece commissioned as part of Edinburgh Art Festival's Emerging Writers programme

Feature by Isla Valentine Wade | 01 Sep 2022
  • The Way, by Lynsey MacKenzie

The canvas is small in stature with a primed gesso underbelly. It is a hazy dream of translucence with cellophane-painted layers of ochre and sea-foam green juxtaposed with interstices of baby pink and magenta. Gestural brushstrokes of purple-grey drag diagonally across the majority of the surface. This painting is titled Sand Ribs and is situated atop a mint-tinted wall included in Lynsey MacKenzie’s exhibition at Institut français d’Ecosse as part of Platform: 2022.

An ample amount of Edinburgh Art Festival’s programme this year centres on the Union Canal and MacKenzie’s fluid gestural abstractions are very fitting. MacKenzie is concerned with the temporality and captured feeling of movement that the medium of painting provides. The work spans various timespans, both the chronological and the fleeting. There is an instilled sensation of an all-at-once-ness, where cessation of the physical boundary of self is replaced with an appreciation of the moment. Giving way to the ekstasis – simply meaning standing outside oneself – allows acceptance for the intuitive conscious body. This recognition for the moment is palpable in pleasingly titled works such as Musk Mallow and Tangled Grove to name a few.

The influence of the natural landscape and cyclical seasons is evident within the abundance of dense moss-greens and apertures of cerulean. The physical act of mark-making explores the bodily index and is seen within the sweeping indication of form in the vibrant brushstrokes and marks. Within the second of the two rooms, situated between two windows overlooking the hustle of the Royal Mile in Summer, is a triptych of paintings titled Headlands, Daydreams and Unfoldings. Placed on a pine structure, the canvases are arranged at three, seven and eleven in correlation to a clock face. The weighty pinks of Daydreams balance the periwinkle-blue and greens of Headlands and Unfoldings. The frame of the support remains relatively static while the shadows of the shifting sun generate soft lines and form behind the structure. The sunlight unfolds and extends into the sensory world, allowing time to be experienced as a slow breath. One of the larger works, arranged in diptych, is Musk Mallow. Composed with sharp vents of teal, this painting’s scale envelops the viewer, aiding the cessation of self and moving towards a new recognition of time, that both reveals the world and has the world revealed to it.

Now in its eighth year, Platform celebrates and supports four contemporary emerging artists across Scotland to make and produce a new body of work. Alongside Lynsey MacKenzie, the insightful practice of Jonny Walker, Saoirse Amira Anis and Emelia Kerr Beale formed this year’s platform selection. The works on display were beautiful, provoking thoughts of vulnerability, heritage and care and complexities of illness. In the tumult of the capital in the summer, Platform: 2022 allowed for much needed space for slow thought and reflection.

This piece was commissioned as part of Edinburgh Art Festival's Emerging Writers programme; scroll on to read more from writers in the programme