Abbot Hall & Packwood

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This white metal fencing is so distinctive and evocative. It instantly conjours childhood memories of days out, picnicking on the banks of the River Hodder. It must have been erected by the Lancashire County Council in the 1950s all around Ribblesdale and Bowland. This view is somewhere near Kirkby Lonsdale, possibly skirting Farleton Fell, a wet landscape of sheep and wind turbines. We were hoping for sunshine; there was a distant patch illuminating Blackpool Tower. And then there was a curlew, on the wall beside the road, right next to us, but in the time it took to stop and get the camera it lifted off and soared away. The closest curlew we ever saw, and it saw us closely too. Read more

Frames of reference

A Walk In The Park

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Asked recently to frame this print I was told it was a map of all the trees in Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park. It sounded too good to be true. I wished it was but I knew it wasn’t, but it was a good excuse to go and check, to visit the trees on our doorstep, too often taken for granted. So we came for a closer look, through the rose-scented Orme Square Gate and into Kensington Gardens. Read more

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A Short Walk With Howard Phipps

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I’d been looking forward to this for years. Ever since we first had his wood engravings I’d been curious about where they came from. We usually get Howard’s prints in the post or occasionally he might bring us a few, but this time I was invited to go and collect some myself. It was an opportunity to visit his studio, to see how his wood engravings are made and also to discover the landscape that informs them. I left the A303 and followed the A30 down a dead straight Roman road to Stockbridge then along the old drover’s road towards Salisbury. I began to recognise the distinctive local features, the gentle rolling hills, the trees silhouetted against the sky, and I knew I was entering Phipps country. Read more

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The Garden In June

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Where the month of May was perfumed with hawthorn and cow parsley, so I associate June with the smells of rowan, elder, privet and pyracantha blossom. In the garden, the honeysuckles have been in bloom for the last two weeks, and on a hot humid evening the perfume is heady – almost overpowering. In contrast my rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ smells at its best early in the morning, with a delicious perfume of peach and orange. So I go out for a whiff first thing before I go off to work. Read more

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Mementi

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This is the Ponte della Maddalena (Bridge of Mary Magdalene) across the Serchio river in Italy, also known as Ponte del Diavolo (Bridge of the Devil). We visited last year on our way to Lucca and I was reminded of it again recently when it appeared in Il Racconto dei Racconti (Tale of Tales), a magical film shot in spectacular locations all over Italy. It prompted me to go looking for more mementoes. Read more

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Lowestoft

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Ordnance Survey of Great Britain 1954, Sheet 137 – Lowestoft
(click on the image for a closer look)

A recent trip to Hastings lead to a Sunday morning treasure hunt in Roberts Rummage, a small living room piled high with loosely sorted items and belongings of past lives. My friend Christopher and I spent a couple of hours searching the stacks of china, jars of buttons and drawers of brass wear and the excitement is the unknown item you will stumble across, the joy of cleaning it up and the new life and place it will have in our lives.

I often think of the life items have had and if you could trace them back where they would take you. Amongst the old board games I discovered this map. Having grown up just outside Lowestoft I was thrilled, it felt like a gift to trace back the villages and towns I have known all my life. Read more

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Unknown Countries

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I’d not been to Hastings before. Strange to admit, especially since I lived in Maidstone for three years just 30 miles away, though that was over 40 years ago. Hastings was where John Martyn lived but, as much as I loved his music, we always by-passed the town on our way home from Brighton. Read more

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Radical Times

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Radical Times is the title of an exhibition of paintings by Stanley Whitney at the Lisson Gallery. I walked here via Church Street Market, past the antique shops and the exuberant fruit & veg stalls. Read more

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Downland Landscapes

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Downs Study from Beachy Head

This series of landscape works has been painted entirely on location. They are a direct response to what I saw and the experience of being in the landscape. I have always worked from direct observation and never seen the point of working away from the subject matter. That is because I do not paint pictures of things, I make studies. Read more

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Around Sudbury

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Sudbury is a place we often pass through on our way to somewhere else. But this time we stopped for a closer look and pretty soon we realised we’d already done this walk before. It all fell back into place.

The market town of Sudbury has a unique feature on its doorstep. The Sudbury Common Lands make up some 115 acres of water-meadows on the flood plain of the River Stour. Cattle and horses graze here, as they have for a thousand years, and the area is crossed by footpaths, making it perfect for a peaceful walk. Read more

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