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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

A Season of Light

Last week I travelled to Edinburgh via Aberdeen, first by plane, then by train. It was my first time doing this route, let alone being in Aberdeen (aside from one visit many years ago). The journey was an experiment to see how smooth it was, and I wanted to lessen the journey time south so that I could finish off prints in the studio up north, and connect with relatives from North America. On my way through various towns, villages and landscapes south of Aberdeen, I took this photo from the train window as we sped past. The light on the house reminded me of a Hopper painting.

Coast Guard Station, 1929, oil on canvas, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey

I included the photo in my studio newsletter, sent out yesterday, and a collector of my work from New York replied with a picture of his own and these words:

'I enjoyed immensely your Edward Hopper-like photo of a house by the lake that you took on your train ride. Well, here in New York we also get late fall light from a low lying morning sun coming up over the horizon on East 76th Street, illuminating golden colored leaves in front of the church of St. Jean Baptiste on Lexington Avenue. This light lasts maybe fifteen minutes; and in a matter of days the leaves were gone - until next year.'

From New York to the east coast of Scotland.... I love how light puts on a display in different parts of the world.

Here is one from an evening out in Edinburgh with my friends from North America. A different kind of light. 😊 It was an enjoyable evening until my friend tripped on a paving stone and twisted her ankle! We headed straight back home and put some ice on it.


On my return to the far north, after an added brief nip down to Durham for work, I found the snowy hills completely mesmerising. The sun was shining on them, bringing out their bulky round shapes, along with the moodiness of the Cairngorm valley as seen from the road.

Light is something I touch on in my Northern Drift column for December. It plays such a vital role in art, and has a huge impact on us and on the environment. Shadow does as well. You can't have one without the other really.


This morning I woke to a sparkling frosty landscape. A perfect morning to write something.

With the first hard frost and snow on the ground, the changed landscape drew me outside despite the cold. The satisfaction of coming back into the house and making a cup of coffee afterwards was even greater. I'm still nursing a warm cuppa as I attempt to ward off the chill.

The sky is clear today, and I love how the sun sparkles on each grass blade, the shape emphasised by the white frost.

When down on the beach I was struck by how the shallow areas of sea water have frozen, creating patterns that look like the current has been stopped mid-flow.

Seaweed shapes are accentuated by an outline of white lacy shards of ice, almost as though coated with sugar.


I have just learned that the artist, John Byrne, has died. This is a sad loss to Scotland and to art.

I remember briefly meeting him once, at the Modern Gallery cafe in Edinburgh. He was dressed in his usual tweed jacket and silk scarf and was with my pilates teacher at the time. Here is a brief clip about him on the BBC news website which I enjoyed watching just now.

I feel inspired by artists like him, and am particularly struck by his sense of seriousness as well as play in his work.

Here's to John Byrne, to a life of creativity, and to light on icy seasides and hills.

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Dec 03, 2023

😊How wonderful your photos and descriptions are! Thanks so much. They help me to see more beauty in the world around us at this time of the year when there are such contrasts in darkness and light. Roger Wagner's paintings inspire me too. Do you know him and his work? It always amazes me how much light a single match gives out in a dark place.I love the painting of The Light of the World in Keble College , Oxford. I am sure you must know it.

Monique Sliedrecht
Monique Sliedrecht
Dec 03, 2023
Replying to

Hello ~

Thank you for your kind message.

I do know Roger and hope to see him in January at a conference. And yes, I know that painting, The Light of the World, though have not actually seen it in person. Are you based in Oxford?

Have a lovely December, full of light.

Monique ✨

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