Eye of the Storm
Eye of the Storm is a loving elegy to James Morrison, Scotland’s most accomplished landscape painter. Morrison is a thoroughly charming subject, gleaming from the screen in all his devotion to the nature of his homeland. He describes his interest in the skies: “Chasing the light… and drama… people are irrelevant to what the landscape is doing, is about.” This is a picturesque life lived in a wild place. “The North Sea can be unforgiving,” Morrison notes.
Filmmaker Anthony Baxter follows Morrison in the final two years of his life, when, in a cruel twist of fate, he is losing his sight. Baxter has a great reverence for the art and its process: shots linger on his painter’s sublime icescapes, from his four trips to Greenland. We see Morrison enthralled by old footage from his life; he reflects that his work has always been “an argument with himself”. There are long scenes of the artist lovingly mixing paints, marvelling at the colours created, washing his colour over the canvas, the camera lingering on the drips that roll down. The work has an ethereal quality, capturing brooding skies and luminous light on snow and ice.
This hour and a quarter is tenderly put together. There are sequences of animation of Morrison’s work created by Catriona Black, and viewers are given a glimpse into her creative process as well, through her video diary: she takes inspiration from the landscape of her home and imbues that in her lovely, painterly work.
The film is also a love letter to Scotland, as well as to Morrison: its stunning landscapes and unforgiving climate; the unmistakably imposing tenement buildings of Glasgow; even the dialect and the accents (a lovely example of which comes from one Mary Taylor, in a film about Morrison from the early 1960s, her harshly wind-beaten face belying the soft lilt of her voice).
This is the moving story of a humble and unassuming man, who adored his wife and his land but who also created some sublime art.
Eye of the Storm is released on 5th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Eye of the Storm here: