return to origins exhibition


This exhibition is composed of paintings from the songlands series - produced in Canada and the whale-back and Heron Clan series - produced in Scotland.

These series came after 6 years of transformational painting on the conwy estuary in north wales, uk. the influential estuary environment drove allan's painting into a dynamic fusion of ancient origins & contemporary art. the subsequent transformation of consciousness & attunement to nature in his work began a remarkable process. this HAS laid down the core ecological foundations for allan's work and RESULTED IN THiS VERY unique SERIES OF PAINTINGS.


The Songland series was painted in Canada between 2013 and 2015. Allan had studios first in Kingston on Lake Ontario and then in North Hatley, Quebec on Lake Massawippi. The name of this series came in the Spring of 2015 when a great chorus erupted from the wetland frogs, close to his studio after one of the coldest winters for many years. His then two-year-old daughter called the cacophony 'the songing'. This became the name of an intuitive painting, an  interpretation of the frogs' early spring wetland environment, constructed with a parallel landscape in the lower aperture. This painting provided momentum which was reinforced by the arrival of the hummingbirds and Urubu (turkey vultures) from the South. After the long severe winter all of this created a feeling in him of exhilaration and provided the energy to pursue 'Songlands', an ancient landscape of originator beings. This momentum next carried him into a flowing and vibrant consciousness that produced another painting of the highest order 'Ancient Songlands'. This is a beautiful haunting painting of spirit beings and as the incantation explains 'it calls out our origins across the parallel worlds - joining what is forgotten - our living soul. He refers to this as a 'mother painting'.

In this series of work he was able to make exceptional attunement to the elemental nature of Eastern Canada and the ancient presence of aboriginal humans. By responding to the place through his own psychic aboriginal roots he was able to make an intimate connection with its ecological powers and powerful aboriginal psyche. These experiences expanded his consciousness of ancestry and, in particular, ancient aboriginal custodianship of the earth from within nature. This has led to his paintings becoming 'image-stories' that connect us back to our original ecological minds and bodies. 

At the end of 2015, Allan arrived back in Scotland where he established a studio on the River Tweed in the Scottish Borderlands. He began his attunement to his new working environment through an encounter with a number of significant trees that led to a focus on the Old Caledonian Wild-Wood that once covered this area after the last Glacial Maximum. This lead to a shift in consciousness that brought his attention to a great 'Whale-being' - swimming in the landscape. After this period of re-attunement, he is now continuing this remarkable developmental process with a collection of paintings called 'The Whale-back Series'. The name is taken from the whale-back profile of the remnants of the 400 million-year-old volcano, now known as 'The Cheviot Hill' and seen from the land where he built his new studio. The 'whale-back' is the dominating yet elusive feature of the local landscape and has provided a focal point for his psychic attunement to the place and has consequently become highly significant in the development of this work. This being, with its ever-changing form and colour, is providing a psychic entry point - a cleft in the visible world that is allowing a psycho-archaeological exploration of the multi-layered and ancient collective unconscious of the place. 

The paintings evolving in this work are being shaped by the retrieval of ancient psychic images. After the focus on the Wild-Woods lead to a deeper focus on the 'whale-back' there was a shift and opening up to other organic images and figures. These images were immediately shape-shifting, seemingly both alchemical and shamanic. Alchemical in the primal process of mixing and changing form - flora, fauna and earth and shamanic in the sense of the painter being the intermediary in the process.

The focus on the Whale-back was enabling a depth exploration of origins and the making of aboriginal-inspired paintings. This process was also charging the present landscape with an arc of energy - fusing the learning from origins into a modern understanding of nature. Nature as the greater mind that all beings partake in - human animal, other animals, flora, geological and elemental forces - the landscape as a set of totemic relationships. While this was evolving in the painting process a sudden appearance of a river heron, right outside the studio window caused a dynamic fusion of origins and present and set off a new series of work. The powerful visceral experience of this fusion thrust him into a totemic relationship with the heron specifically but also generally across the full panorama of the landscape. Immediately there were a series of events in the wild nature around him that demanded his attention in painting. This new work is titled the ‘Heron Clan Series’. The series began with the Heron as clan and progresses to Heron as initiator.

Allan is producing 'image-stories' that connect us back to our original ecological mind-set and engender respect and a sensuous connection within nature. These paintings provide a connection directly into the present and allow us to see our place in nature with very different eyes. 

Some paintings are accompanied by what Allan refers to as 'an incantation' - they form part of the title of the work. These are his own interpretations of each painting as an 'image-story' in line with the core conceptualisation of his work. These incantations are only crafted after a work is complete and are intended to enhance the understanding and experience of the painting. 

The Whale-back and Heron Clan Series are progressing and new work will be added to this online exhibition as it becomes available. The exhibition will form the foundation of the work available to be shown locally, nationally and internationally.    


Dedication: I dedicate the series of Songland paintings to the First Nations people of Canada past, present and future and in particular, the Abenaki people of 'Dawnland'.  - Allan Renshaw

Curation: This exhibition has been curated by Katrine Rustad. It has been curated according to tonality and balance between paintings and the incantations themselves, resulting in pairings that have a particular cadence with each other - creating an optimal viewing experience both collectively and on an individual basis. We hope you get pleasure from the paintings and that this Return To Origins exhibition inspires you to subscribe to our mailing list. 


Raven Sky Dance P1110258.jpg


Clear sight
Piercing darkness

These messengers out of nature
are not lead astray

Solemn pranksters,
Elaborate dancers

These Raven Head
Conduct the acts of sublimation in nature

Mediating life and death
For the hunter-fisher people



In the beginning, the Stellar oracle opens
And the Earth ascends into the Northern Sky

The She-Shamen Collective dance
Balancing the negative + positive charge

Conditioning the Earth
They are the touchstone of existence.

Whale-back Figurines-P1110118.jpg


Ancient figures,
Hidden out of time

Emerging from the labyrinth
Into a discordant present

They move through the primordial screen
Arousing connection to aboriginal identity


Pink forest
Fecund lair

Primordial gold
Earth Mother

The people of the 'Big Deep' remember
Their land of the rising sun

AllanRenshaw - Progenitors in Blue.JPG


Old Caledonian Remnants
With their ancient spirit story

Living on the flowing blue
But still in changing times

Cleaving to their acid roots
Making home in the hard place

They speak to us of ourselves
Of the origins of our identity


Remembering the radiating body of the ancestral archetype
And the grid formality of its force-field

Recurring together
Existing together

The synchronous flapping of the hummingbird's wings
The sun stretching her parallel streams of bloodline over Dawnland

1-Sky Wall.jpg



This translucent screen ascends
Our ancient ancestral presence

On the opposite side
Behind our cultural level

Embedded in the deeper stratas of nature
Their amber and indigo presence emerge

Earth Map P1110158.jpg


Shamanic voyageurs
Stretching their bodies across the worlds

Across the Underworld
- where we must come

Across the Sensuous world
- where we must live

Across the After world
- where we must go

Across the Primordial world
- where we must exist


Land of ancient beings
Songing its sacred rite

Calling out our origins
Across the parallel worlds

Joining what is forgotten
Our living soul



Their cries echo full of portent
A proclamation

A prophetic sign
A marvel

An act so extraordinary
A great choir of frogs songing the signs
of spring over Dawnland


These spirit beings,
Embedded in earth

Ancestral originators
Communing in nature

Shimmering across time
Transmitting their super-natural



The Shaman waves his magic stick
Stirring the magmatic strata

The ancestral superstructure
Ascends in primordial space

The blood sky awakens
'Ghostlands' is born

Allan Renshaw - Ghost Pines.jpg


I come to this place
And look upon this ancient Salmon River

I am a stranger
With no foot-hold

But I am in touch with a memory
At first, I see dimly

Then the Ghost Pines appear
And my soul is illuminated

P1100518 - The Whale-back Serpents.jpg


Clefts in the totemic underworld
Lying hidden in this landscape

Remnants of the volcanic
Allowing entry to the invisible

Shape-shifting journeys,
Into the ancient collective

P1100517 - Fire-birds.jpg


The old forgotten story
Of this crimson veined land

As the magmatic web flows
The Earth transmutes

Animal and element are mixed
In alchemical evolution

The Whale-back being has its beginnings
As the ancient Fire-bird ranges across water, air and land

Heron Clan P1120183WBBlue.jpg


They make home on the Great River
Vigilant, attentive, intelligent

A lesson in self reflection

Ecological care-takers
They only take what they need

Beautiful and magnificent in nature
Generation after generation after generation



Invisible wild-woods
An imprint on our ancient psyche

Whose memory
Speaks of our Origins

From those spirit stands
This Northern Henge

Our sacred enclosure
Our grave pit

190Heron PinesOut2croppedPic.jpg


Arrow Flight
Heron hunter

Nature's fates merge
Initiating a transmutation in the collective..

The dart in this shape-shifting Wild-wood
The story of the landscape is made

P1120198 March Tree.jpg


Growing small
In the Old Merse Marsh

The March Tree
Shows its lonely beauty

Totemic heron
are its companions

Bearing witness
to Collective Wisdom

— Allan Renshaw