Feature: Eye of the Storm

Born in Glasgow the early 1930’s, James Morrison has went on to become one of the finest and most prolific landscape artists Scotland has ever known. Eye of the Storm, a new documentary directed by Anthony Baxter, shines light on the the life, times and career of James Morrison the man, as well as the artist.

Throughout his life Morrison painted some of the most breath taking landscapes from across Scotland, and indeed the world and Eye of the Storm perfectly encapsulates the man’s love for painting, his adoration for nature and also showcases his impact on the wider world. Morrison’s paintings capture moments in a much more personal way than any photograph ever could with his art serving as a doorway through time while giving a glimpse into his mind as to how he saw the world. And quite often, especially in regards to some of his arctic paintings or even some of his earlier work in the streets of Glasgow, he captured scenes that simply don’t exist anymore.

With Eye of the Storm, Anthony Baxter and his crew have made one of the best documentaries that I’ve seen in recent years and despite the subject matter, it actually doesn’t require background in art to enjoy. However, by time you’re done you’ll be filled with an entirely new appreciation for the medium. While there’s plenty of time to admire Morrison’s art throughout the film’s runtime, there’s also an important human element on display here as well as Morrison himself comes to grips the hardships of sight loss in his later years.

There’s a moment in Eye of the Storm where Morrison himself comments on an old documentary on Joan Eardley which he calls a “a superb record which wonderfully avoids sentiment or fakery…” and I find this remark to be particular poignant as Eye of the Storm feels much the same in the sense that Baxter’s own work here masterfully avoids any temptation to pull on the emotional threads that could have easily derailed the well balanced film that he’s crafted here.

It is clear from the outset however, that all involved in the making of Eye of the Storm are strong admirers of Morrison and his work over the decades. The documentary itself is created with such love and attention to detail, with beautiful shots of Scotland’s landscapes that mirror the art painted by Morrison himself, that you’re sometimes drifting seamlessly between painting and real life.

With the sad passing of Morrison last year, Eye of the Storm isn’t just a celebration of the the man’s legacy, but it also serves as a memorial to one of Scotland’s finest artists. He was a man who was clearly loved and the impact his work has had cannot be understated and while Morrison himself spent a lifetime capturing the world around him as he saw it, I find Eye of the Storm a fitting tribute to how the world saw the man.

Eye of the Storm is set for release on DVD and digital on 23rd August 2021.

by Edward Laing