John Slavin Art


QuickTime video


Invisible Humanity

The people who have attended my exhibitions can be compared to those in the wilderness who have passed through the scenes I have painted. To cross a river, to be enchanted by the features of an upturned tree trunk, to halt on the way in order to practically assess or to willingly fall under a spell does not differ much if the experience is in a gallery or at a mountain foot.

The artist also is invisible. His brushwork hides him. Yet he knows that he shares the same natural energy of the river in the gorge, with the viewer. We are part of an eternal. The history of the humans who are invisible in my landscapes permits greater resonance in story and song for the presented work unpainted. I hope my static images will detain them for a moment before they pass by. And that they may carry something of my paintings away with them in their hearts

The time I spend on the road is necessary. I have to wander the lands, to get to know them in the times of their seasons so that I am not seduced by fruit or broken by stone. The constellations guide me, as do the poets and the mystic geometries and the troubadours. My landscapes are of the soul. And I would be lonely indeed without the rivers and mountains. And I am so grateful to those friends who can see what they want in my work, and who tell me and who help me.


The North.  I spent sixteen winters on the Isle of Skye. On the island it is not possible to be more than 7 kms from the sea. The winter nights are very long. The storms are strong and last for a long time. In the darkness I would paint. The rocks of the seashore and the North Atlantic mountains. Skye has fjords like Norway. Sometimes I would paint by candlelight. I lived in a little caravan and cut turf from the peat bog for my fire. The depth of the night and the wild seashore where the geology is varied put me under a spell for a long time. But at last, the sun and the flowers and the dry blue days of the South led me away from my home to adventure.

The Land of the Cathars. There are no Cathars. They were all killed in a crusade, the Albigensian Crusade. I walk their ancient pathways and have come to understand the language of birds, donkey, and goats and dogs. In the hills around the valley where I live there is a geometrical star map put on the earth. It begins at the church of Rennes Chateau. It goes back to geometry from from ancient Jerusalem and Egypt and some say Atlantis. And further to the stars. In the hills the Knights Templar built their fortresses. From my door I can see three. The knights were here, so were the Romans and the Celts. And Mary Magdelene and Leonardo. Old agriculture can be found beneath the chestnut forest. Celtic standing stones lead to other worlds.

My retrospective can show nothing that is not already known in the tradition of landscape painting, but it can point to an individual path, from North to South. I would like to show that daily study from nature; in the dream of imagination we come close to the eternal creator. The memories of migrations, civilizations and of all life is written in ourselves. Beneath the stars, in the landscape, is a fantastically rich source of wisdom. As a river and mountain painter I continue to approach this source, humbly and with only a brush.


Born 3/2/1956 in Falkirk.  John Slavin attended Edinburgh College of Art 1975-1980 and studied in the School of Drawing and Painting under Denis Peploe and the celebrated painters Sir Robin Philipson and Dame Elizabeth Blackadder.

From 1995 John has been exhibiting as a landscape artist painter on the Isle of Skye.  In 2010 he started making annual pilgrimages to the Pyrenees Orientales, Occitanie, where he has been creating landscape paintings.  In 2018 John began new work in figurative drawing and painting derived from his poetic translations of traditional Traveller stories, the wonder tales of Duncan Williamson.  Classical myth and Greek epic became main subjects for an exhibition in March 2020, unfortunately cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  With a return to his first love and foremost concern for Nature in the Pyrenees, John is constucting a woodland atelier in Las Hieros, Rennes-les-Bains, Occitanie where painting and creativity may find a new hearth for expression.


Exhibition History

7 July-30 July 2017Resipole Fine Art Studios, The Skye Suites, shared exhibition of original oil paintings
27 July-8 Aug 2020The Resilient Self, Espacio Gallery, London
1 Feb-16 Feb 2019'Painting the Wonder Tales' in The Scottish Storytelling Centre; legacy of Traveller Storyteller Duncan Williamson (1928-2007)
3 Dec-28 Jan 2017'Winterescence' at Doubtfire Gallery exhibition of 14 artists to celebrate Scottish winter
23 July-25 Sept 2016'Par Nature', French exhibition of 7 artists at Galerie, Grand Rue, 11190 Bugarach, France
May 2016 on-goingAndorra online exhibition at
Jan-Feb 2015Visual Arts Scotland:Transforming
Jan-Feb 2014End of Winter at Doubtfire Art Gallery, Stockbridge
Nov 2014-Jan 2015RSA Exhibition of Fine Art
Feb-Mar 2014'John Slavin: New Works' at The Sutton Gallery, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Nov-Dec 2013The Sutton Gallery: Winter Exhibition, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Nov 2013-Jan 2014Royal Scottish Academy: Open Exhibition at The Mound, Edinburgh
15-29 June 2013'Pyrenean Landscapes' at the Sutton Gallery, Leicester
2-17 Mar 2013'The Art of John Slavin' at Collingwood College, Durham University presented by The Sutton Gallery
Dec 2012-Jan 2013'A Doubtfire Winter', Doubtfire Gallery, Edinburgh
Nov 2012-Jan 2013Royal Scottish Academy of Fine Art, RSA, Edinburgh
Nov-Dec 2012'Salt River Sacred Mountain' at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh; A Pilgrimage to the Pyrenees
July-Aug 2012'Imaginary Summers' at Doubtfire Gallery, Edinburgh
Sept-Oct 2011'Cascades of the Upside Down Mountain' at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Narrative Landscape Painting
Mar 2010Glasgow Art Fair
Feb 2010Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock, East Renfrew Council
Aug 2009Plockton Hall, Lochalsh; Isle of Skye original paintings exhibited with fellow Skye artist Jane Mackenna