"Seven Celtic Nations: Part I - Scotland"
At the Fraser Gallery Bethesda to Jan 8, 2003
By Louis Jacobson
Washington City Paper
Thursday, December 20, 2002.

For the past decade Catriona Fraser has been working on an ambitious project: documenting the timeless architecture and unpeopled landscapes of the "Seven Celtic Nations," which by her reckoning include Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Galicia, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, and Brittany. Ten years on, Fraser is essentially finished with Scotland, and the results are on display at the gallery she owns in Bethesda, MD.

Fraser works only with black-and-white film that is designed to capture the invisible infrared sprectrum. Frequently this approach turns trees, grass, and other dark objects white,lending Fraser's images -- some monumentally sized, others more intimate -- an ethereal, sometimes surreal air.

In some photographs, such as Stirling Castle, Balmoral Castle and Eilean Donan Castle, the unexpectedly white shadings seem unnecessarily distracting: in others, the presence of modern benches spoil the reverie. More often, however, Fraser's grainy technique gloriously captures subtleties, from weathered stone in castle walls and turrets to fluffy, snowy textures one would not expect in clear skies. Fraser's finest image may be Brodie Castle, which features not one but half-dozen luminous shades of white, each with its own distinct feel, from the fleecy surface of the castle to feathery tree leaves to the icy cirrus clouds in the sky above to the utterly blank snow covering the ground.

Unfortunately, given Fraser's perfectionist approach, it'll take a while to see the results of the other six nations: She's just begun the preliminaries in Galicia, meaning that she should be finished with the project when she's -- oh, about as old as Strom Thurmond. Her work is on view from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2003 at Fraser Gallery Bethesda, 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, Bethesda. Free. (301) 718-9651. (Louis Jacobson)


Louis Jacobson

Copyright 2002 Washington City Paper