Johnstone began this painting in 1929, when he was living in Selkirk after his return from America. It is his largest painting of this period and the artist later emphasised its importance by taking the title for his autobiography. He stated that this painting and two other works ‘grew out of my horror of the disease of war, of the anticipation of future tragedy - they were never intended for drawing rooms.’ The shapes in the painting are reminiscent of natural forms, highlighted with coloured light and including mysterious, cavernous spaces. Although abstract, it has been suggested that the shapes are influenced by the landscapes of the Scottish Borders. Johnstone reworked many of his paintings of the 1920s and this painting was probably altered prior to its first exhibition in 1938.