Our recent release, Lowland Outcrops, is the third of our guides to now feature one of Christopher Smith-Duque’s fine-art paintings of iconic crags on the cover. In this article, we hear from the artist himself, as well as our Publications Manager, Rob, to explain why we’ve opted for crags over climbers for our new editions.
From the Press (Rob Lovell)
The Scottish Mountaineering Club has been producing guidebooks for many many years, and with the previous series of books (concluding with the guidebook to the Outer Hebrides) coming to an end, we had an opportunity to redefine what the next set of books would look like. When we began working on the new design of the SMC Guidebooks we knew we wanted to do something a bit different for the covers… take any climbing guide, squint, and you see the same thing – a climber, on a rock, in varying degrees of extremis. The image represents one person’s experience of a rock climb at a specific point in time. For me, climbing is about more than the climber and the movement; it’s the people you are with, the experiences you have when you are there and the connection you hold with the venue.
Perhaps I’m biased but I believe that the crags and mountains of Scotland are some of the most iconic natural features in the UK, with some of the most impressive architecture, all alongside a rich history of climbing exploration – where better to showcase them than on the front covers of our books. Chris’s style of illustration picks out the most striking parts of a crag or mountain and allows the climber to project themselves onto the subject. I don’t need to see someone cranking up an E7 (impressive as it is!), I see plenty of that on social media. What I want to see is the essence of an area distilled into an image that any climber or scrambler can relate to – an image that will evoke the memories of an experience passed, or inspire a visit in the future.
With regards to why each crag, it comes down to picking something that is iconic and recognisable, lends itself to Chris’s style with clean bold lines and, in some cases, can also provoke intrigue – perhaps a crag that isn’t well known, or using a slightly different perspective.