Calum Wallis


Since my early days of running wild among the woods and hills of the Highlands, I’ve been fascinated with the feet that have trod the earth before me. Behind my home was a vitrified Pictish fort, and I often stood looking at the view from its vantage point, peeling back the layers of civilisation to try and see the world as our forebears had.
During my time at art college in Dundee (2013-17), I used drawing as a means to connect with the landscape in new ways. I would go out on days-long drawing trips in the wild, camping or bivvying while trying to describe the ineffable allure of ancient earth with drawn lines.
This process, which began with drawing mountain tops and vistas, gradually brought my eyes closer and closer to the ground. Here, I realised, was where the secrets lay. In drawing every detail of a small patch of ground or rock, I was not only describing the material composition of that spot, but also its entire history of creation, exposure and deterioration.
Almost as a detective dusting a scene for evidence, my eyes and hand work across the scene, from one corner to the other, contriving to decipher the stories held in the expressionless and all-seeing earth.
This is one such drawing, the spot being a small handhold in a rock face at the Arbroath Cliffs.