Keith Salmon is one of Scotland’s best–loved landscape painters. Known for his bold and abstract depictions of the munros, glens and corbetts that define rural Scotland, Keith’s work hangs in galleries all over the world.
Keith Salmon is also blind.
After building up a successful career as a sculptor, Keith was stricken with diabetic retinopothy. Able to save some blurred vision in one of his eyes, Keith endeavored to keep creating while he had any sight left. Believing that he might quickly loose what was left of his vision, Keith began earnestly walking the Scottish landscape with his partner ceramic artist Anita Groves. Keith also turned away from sculpture in order to create work faster. Quickly Keith took to the palette and the easel to capture the world he saw during these walks. Despite the emergence of cataracts, Keith is still painting today. Through the support of galleries all over Scotland and with a 2009 Jolomo award Keith has garnered both critical and popular acclaim.
While Keith’s visual impairment creates some challenges he uses that impairment as a jumping off point for his work. According to Keith, “My paintings are more about the atmosphere, because I don’t really see much detail when I’m out. The work has developed out of necessity. I had to find ways to create pictures, to do the kind of things I want to do without having the sight to do it. I have developed ways of painting with big brushes and scribbling into the paint with pastels, building up layers and layers then using a blunt blade to scrape the surface back in places; ways to create fine marks without having the sight to do fine, accurate painting”.
Creative Differences producer Dan Thornon met Keith through UK based co-producer David Feeney in 2013 at an opening of one of his shows at the Gallery on the Corner in Edinburgh. Feeney and Thornton worked with Keith and Anita to produce a short film about Keith’s wandering and painting for the 2013 Fragile? Symposium in Talinn Estonia. With a very positive reception of the film, Feeney and Thornton approached Keith and Anita about making a broadcast length film about Keith and they agreed.
Dan spent December 2013 working with Keith and Anita on collecting more interviews and background materials for a longer piece. Just before the second round of interviews were started, Keith was commissioned by the Harbor Arts Center in Irvine, Ayrshire to do a mural on one of the center’s interior walls in late 2014. Keith has chosen to use Arran Island’s Glen Rosa (one of the vistas featured in the short film) as the subject for the mural. This challenge will be the narrative spine of the completed broadcast documentary which Alibi Pictures hopes to have edited and ready for broadcast in early 2015.
Dan and colleague Cindy Apple spent two weeks in Scotland finishing up principal photography for the film at the end of 2014. We are looking to start editing in March. Stay tuned!