WHEN Scottish landscape artist Rose Strang began searching for music to inspire her paintings of Ardnamurchan, she didn’t expect to discover a rare Scottish Gaelic song that hadn’t been heard for decades.

Strang was captivated by the song she found online but had no idea what it meant until a friend translated the words and stunned the painter, revealing how well it matched her work for her upcoming Ardnamurchan exhibition.

“I loved the sound of the song, but had no idea what the lyrics were about,” said Strang. “I found it by chance in the School of Scottish Studies song archives and the only information given was that the song was by Donald McColl, 1901-1977, and it was about Ardnamurchan.

“I don’t speak Gaelic, but I really wanted to know what the words were, so I asked several Scottish Gaelic translators for help. It did take a while to discover what the lyrics were about, however, as it was difficult to hear the recording.”

A friend, Ceit Langhorne, managed to translate the song and Strang was struck by the lyrics.

“When I read it, it was an uncanny moment because I’d already began to paint the luminous colours of Ardnamurchan in June with the leaves unfurling, which is exactly what Donald McColl’s lyrics were about,” she said.

Strang was so inspired by the song that she decided to re-record it, with music arranged by her partner, Adam Brewster, and friend, Donald Ferguson.

Their arrangement, using harp and guitar, touched a chord with Strang, who said it captures the lyrical beauty of the song. However, as she is better known for painting than singing, she confessed she had a wee dram to help her get in the mood for recording it.

“I am not a very experienced singer, so I did have a couple of whiskies first,” said Strang, who was recently commissioned by the Folio Society to illustrate the newest publication of Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain.

There was another surprise in store for Strang when she contacted Andrew Sinclair, owner of Resipole Studios in Ardnamurchan where she is to exhibit her paintings.

“It turned out that Andrew and his brother had actually gone to school with the grandchildren of Donald McColl, so they were delighted about our song. I spent a few more days creating a video featuring the landscape of Ardnamurchan from our trip there this year and my paintings, with our recording of the song.”

The original song was recorded in 1975, two years before McColl’s death. Strang said all involved were “honoured” to bring the song to life.

“I hope we’ve done it justice. I’m grateful to Edinburgh University and the School of Scottish Studies for their interest and to the McColl family for their kind permission to re-record the song.”

Rose Strang’s paintings of Ardnamurchan can be viewed from June 12 to July 22 at Resipole Studios in Ardnamurchan.

Exhibition: https://www.resipolestudios.co.uk/jim-wright-and-rose-strang-coast