Mythical Landscape

Bad Omen 1 by Sara Willadsen
9″x12″; found paper, graphite, acrylic on paper; 2022. Courtesy of the artist.


Mythical Landscape: Secrets of the Vale

at the Knoxville Museum of Art in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
17 March-7 May 2023

Opening Reception: Sunday, 19 March 2023, 2:30-4PM


“The peaceful valley,” wrote William Wilson in 1904, “appears to have had a peculiar attraction for beings supernatural; and for generations its bosky glens and leafy braes have been the reputed haunt of ghosts, fairies, witches, and other beings of an uncanny kind. This sweet, pastoral vale in its nine miles course can boast of scenery unequaled in its quiet beauty, possessing in its woods and waters, its hazelly glens and green-clad hills, everything that can contribute to the making of the finest landscape, while to increase the charm it abounds in the most romantic tales of byegone days.” 

Sanquhar is a village on the River Nith, up from Dumfries, down from Glasgow, a former Royal Burgh, home to the world’s oldest working post office and the oldest curling society. The Crichton Family ruled the land from the time of Robert the Bruce until they threw such a lavish party for James VI and I in 1617 that they went bankrupt. A monument in town is dedicated to Covenanters who fought against government interference in religious affairs. A forge on Crawick Water made shovels and other tools. A carpet factory boasted fifty-four working looms at the height of production. Saint Bride’s Church, the Tolbooth, sheep grazing the fields, the castle ruins, rabbits in Queensberry Square. What stories does this mythical landscape hold?

Warld’s En’ Feline Fairies by Ben DiNino
16.5″x32.25″; photographs taken at “Fairy Knowe”, collaged found images, glue stick and bits of Scottish cat hair; 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

“Mythical Landscape: Secrets of the Vale” is an exhibition by an international group of artists, all of whom traveled to Sanquhar to investigate a sense of place and make artwork that speaks to the rich history and folklore of the region. Artworks reference stories from the past (true or otherwise) and consider the history of the region. Many of the works were shown at MERZ Gallery during Sanquhar’s Festival of Folklore, 22-25 September 2022. In the book, Folklore of the Upper Nithsdale, thirty-three collage artists illustrate stories of witches, ghosts, and other spirits from Sanquhar, Scotland. Using stories collected from William Wilson’s 1904 book, artists reimagine these tales in a 21st Century context and invite us to see folklore as the imagination of the past, understood in the present. The book includes an introduction by Ric Kasini Kadour. PURCHASE THE BOOK

Folklore of the Upper Nithsdale is sent automatically to members of the Silver Scissors & Golden Glue Societies. Join before 15 April 2023 to receive your copy.


Knoxville Museum of Art
1050 World’s Fair Park Drive
Knoxville, Tennessee 37916 USA
(865) 525-6101

Tuesday-Saturday, 10AM-5PM
Sunday, 1-5PM