Sligh’-Uisge na h-Alba (Waterway of Scotland)

Sam Mould CaledonianSligh’-Uisge na h-Alba (Waterway of Scotland) is a cairn of rocks photographed in situ at the end of the Caledonian Canal as it enters into the Moray Firth. A four day expedition from Scarba to Inverness by kayak, swimming and cycling 125miles is summarised by this way marker. Sligh’-Uisge na h-Alba is the Scottish Gaelic.

The great glen is a geological fault line that dissects Scotland West to East, and the Caledonian Canal demonstrates the most direct route.

Bothy Project


Inshriach Bothy

The Bothy; a shelter from the weather, more substantial than my tent, less than a building; essentially a room in the outdoors.

Nestled in a sparse hilltop wood, on a kink in the Spey, the Bothy rooted its simple nature into the core of my practice for a week.

What can one learn from placing oneself in these circumstances? An innate need to listen to the slow rhythms of time here. To be in the now of ones thoughts here. Mind and body wander here as though, on entering the wood, I have trespassed across an indistinguishable threshold. In the winter the bones of the landscape stand out as the moss pours off the scots pine, the aspen and the birch.

There is no such thing as silence here: a perfect truism. The fire pops, roars and cracks, whilst the wind plays a reel in the juniper bush, then the scrummage of the mice followed by the flit of small hedgerow bird provoking you to catch his identity. The nervous flick of the squirrel’s tail as she scarpers up a tree. The startled doe whose angst in the split second of being disturbed causes her to turn on her hoof and disappear in flashes of white. The squeezing of frost beneath ones feet and the splintering of icy puddles whisper a reminder; it’s time, time to go for a meandering. Cleats or boots, both have landscape speed and so I take the hint and slip off into that silence day after day after day with aimless purpose.

My daily cycle of peripatetic practice started and ended at this place. A simple room in a winter wood, whose boughs had been exposed by the season, became a place to focus and recover from the events of the day.

The evenings also consisted of reading Nan Shepherds book ‘A Living Mountain’ where she articulates more poetically than I ever possibly could:

‘I believe I understand in some small measure why the Buddhist goes on pilgrimage to a mountain. The journey is itself part of the technique by which the god is sought. It is a journey into Being; for as I penetrate more deeply into the mountains life, I penetrate also into my own. For an hour I am beyond desire. It is not ecstasy, that leap out of the self that make man like a god. I am not out of myself, but in myself. I am. To know Being, this is the final grace accorded from the mountain.’

Cycling, walking, swimming, every day like a religion. The daily pilgrimage to discover something we don’t yet know.

Over the course of seven days, I made seven cairns. The rock: a completely tangible article, which relentlessly surrounds us as an intangible landscape.
A landmass, a territory, a piece of time, a source of pigment.
Every rock has been carried in memory of hardship as a definitive aspect of pilgrimage and laid to rest as a way marker at the Bothy, in memory of an impermanent line that has been drawn through the landscape.

I collected three rocks each day. Two for the Cairns and one from each swim. The rocks map the journey and locate it specifically in the landscape of Scotland.

This is my current de-constructivist investigation of territory and space to try and re-map terrain and think in the peripatetic. Landscape as site (material), painting as journey, colour as landscape and nomadicity as drawing are themes I am currently exploring.

Here, are the Cairns left in situ at Inshriach.


I am a painter, not a writer, but I wanted to share these thoughts as an adventure into a new domain for my practice: I hold onto the mountain to steady myself, to steady my inner being. As the lochs and streams wash away the dirt of love from my soul, I hold onto that rock to steady myself, to steady who I am. This reflection shadows itself to me under a February moon. The silver light makes clear in me the need to follow that path, a path of Cairngorm rose, up an ever-steepening slope, steeper than I had anticipated, because although this way is the hardest, this is the route, the way, the path that is true to my soul and as the splendidly cool water of the green loch shocks my body into existence and tingles in the wake of a realisation that we are stronger, I am stronger than I had anticipated and, like the mountains fleshy rock, that I need to steady myself, that realisation of my Being alive, my luck, my gratitude, exists in the here and now of the Red Mountains.

And finally a little T.S.Eliot…just because we can:
‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all or exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’ Four Quartets

The Length Of Europe


My practice and research span a cross-disciplinary trajectory where physical endurance overlaps into my art practice. This small piece consists of two rocks one from Knivskjellodden, Norway, the other from Tarifa, Spain.The two painted objects are made with earth pigments, oil on canvas from the respected places.
The focus is an investigation of the different ways of mapping 5,000km and summarising it and manipulating some of the collected articles.
The very two ends of Europe have become conjoined for a moment.

Miles Away (But Within Our Grasp)

These paintings hung by their own weight and encrusted with earthy oil based pigment lean off the wall as though their density of downwardness is only balanced by the forceful equilibrium of one earnestly pushing against the other.

Made with Earth pigments, one each from Sweden, France, Germany and Spain which were collected on a self propelled and unsupported bicycle ride of over 5,000km.

Miles Away (But Within Our Grasp) 2013- Oil and Pigment on Canvas 250mm x 1700mm x 14500mm


Five K Weight


This image summarises a 5,000km journey from Northern Norway to Southern Spain.

The cairn of rocks sits on a beach with Africa in the back ground, on arriving in Spain after 52days of cycling unsupported and independently, the length of Europe.

Jersey Rock


A tour around the island by bike and on foot has led to a series of rock fall water colours made with water from 5 sources (St Ouen’s, La Greve de Lecq, St Peters, St Aubin and La Rocque) on the island and a cairn of stones.

Each stone in the cairn is labelled with a specific location from my journeying over the island. The cairn maps a 22mile journey around the island of Jersey, each rock holding a memory of a place. They are stacked in the fashion of a cairn, used to find direction when lost.

Each water colour painting focuses on a rock tumbling and it’s momentary occurrence. The watercolours themselves are the landscape colours of Jersey itself, combined with water from the island that was collected from locations which I visited. The rocks featured in the watercolours are part of the cairn and the watercolour painting itself is mapping the individual rock and it’s natural path of movement when rolled.

Finally the remainder of the collected waters are stored in a jar with the local map of Jersey which I used to navigate my 3day tour.

Shoreditch Town Hall-Graduate Art Fair

INstall Knowing Venice

Knowing Venice (2013)

Installation of Italian earth pigment stained canvas with a cairn of rocks.

Knowing Venice hangs voluminously holding a form that we are neither sure whether it is rising up or falling down. The piece is an abstract map duplicated from Finding Venice with a cairn way marker that is made from rocks collected from England, France, Switzerland and Italy. Specifically a piece of marble collected from Venice is inserted into the work enabling us to locate it. Knowing Venice creates a new abstract landscape painting.

Love Birds V Install Shoreditch TH

Love Birds V (2013)

3D Painting of Oil on Canvas.

These two paintings have been re-installed as Love Birds V for the Shoreditch Show. A playful movement for these two paintings as they jostle with each other and the surrounding space.


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