Selborne

Selborne was the perfect rendezvous, being halfway between London and Salisbury. We came down and Howard Phipps came up and we met in the middle, in a field just off Gracious Street, the car park of the Gilbert White Museum, where we transferred the contents of Howard’s car boot to ours, in preparation for his exhibition in the Rowley Gallery window. But not before a lovely sunny walk around the outskirts of the village. And this map, embedded in the vicarage wall, dated 2 June 1953, is as old as I am. Continue reading “Selborne”

Frames of reference

The Dorset Coast

The Dorset Coast: from Chesil Beach to the Isle of Purbeck.

Living in south west Wiltshire I am frequently drawn to neighbouring Dorset to walk some of the paths along its geologically varied coastline. I like to draw or paint on location, and I subsequently develop a number of my observations into wood engravings or linocuts. Both are methods of making relief prints, the former being a very English art form developed by Thomas Bewick in the 18th Century, where the engraving is made on highly polished end grain boxwood, which on completion is inked with a roller and printed by hand, in my case using an Albion Press made in 1862. Continue reading “The Dorset Coast”

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Kingswalden Park

This was another summer walk, back in July when it seemed like whenever we were not working we were walking. Walking had become our substitute for going out to the cinema, the theatre, music gigs, galleries, restaurants, shops, markets. Sometimes while out walking we might risk visiting a pub, but only if we could sit outside. Covid lived inside. Today we parked on the village green at Preston in Hertfordshire, beside the Red Lion pub. But its door was closed, its garden was empty and there was no public convenience. I needed a tree. I could think of little else, winding the village paths out to pasture and greatly relieved to find this welcoming field maple. Continue reading “Kingswalden Park”

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Epping Long Green (2)

We first discovered Epping Long Green a week ago – Epping Long Green (1) – but then realised we’d only seen a part of it, so today we came back to explore its full length. We started from Epping Green and walked west, retracing our steps from last week as far as this fingerpost. Then we turned around and walked back and continued east to the furthest extent before returning to where we started from. But not before a quick figure-of-eight turnaround in the woods. Continue reading “Epping Long Green (2)”

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Painting In Suffolk

Over the last five years I have spent most of my time focused on painting forests around the world, often with the aim to highlight the destruction that is happening within them. It has taken me to some incredibly beautiful and majestic places, introduced me to plants and trees that I couldn’t have imagined. However, one of the most surprising things I came back with after my first trip to Brazil in 2015 was how I then saw my home landscape through a completely new set of eyes. I suddenly noticed the curls in the leaves and twists in the branches everywhere, moving me to paint them. And although my work is still mainly focused on global deforestation I now regularly paint outside in my home landscape in Suffolk. Continue reading “Painting In Suffolk”

Frames of reference

Epping Long Green (1)

Epping Forest was busy. There was plenty of space for everyone to walk comfortably, but it seemed like social distancing among the trees had become the new normal, and the car parks were all full. Previously, as a last resort, we’d parked on the roadside at Baldwin’s Hill. The bonus was a glass of beer from the doorway of the Foresters Arms, before plunging downhill into the forest for a gently meandering walk along Loughton Brook. But today it felt safer to avoid the crowds, and instead of going into the centre of the forest, I looked for somewhere quieter on the outskirts. Continue reading “Epping Long Green (1)”

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The Empty Streets

A friend kept phoning us in the mornings of late April and early May. She was, rather against her will, still gallantly fulfilling her duties at an office in Oxford Street. She disliked being there and feared the possible consequences in mid-pandemic. But the reason she kept phoning was to tell of her exuberance in the early mornings at being able to walk the length of Regent Street alone and in the middle of the street. She described the complete peace and quiet in the utterly empty street free of people, free of traffic. Continue reading “The Empty Streets”

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Pantalica

Sitting here on lockdown, having earlier walked our prescribed exercise route, carefully plotted through burgeoning local parks and side roads, the trees and hedges heavy with blossom and alive with birdsong, more-so it seems than ever this year. Strange contrast with the quiet tragedy unfolding around us, the closed doors and closed curtains and the quiet ambulances in the streets. I’m itchy to be away from here but there’s nowhere to go. So I’m looking back through old photos and I find myself in Sicily, two years ago when we were free to go wherever we pleased. We were staying in Syracuse, on the island of Ortigia, and each day we went off in a different direction. On this day we headed inland, due west to the ancient prehistoric site of Pantalica. Continue reading “Pantalica”

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Painting Wytham

The experience of landscape and how to interpret it has been a major preoccupation for many years. In the 1960s as a student I made large abstract canvases which were in fact about space. It was the time of the first moon landing. Since then I have travelled a bit. To Canada, to India, to Spain, and here to the Lake District and Cornwall. I have made paintings and drawings in all these places. The vast scale of the Rocky Mountains, the heat of Spain, the colour and smell of India, the cold of the Lakes in December, all have presented me with the strange problems of how to get something out of these very different environments. But I always return to my home turf. One I have lived in for almost all my life. This year I began what I had hoped to be a project painting in the same location for most of the year. To this end I overhauled my gear and began work in the chill of early February high over Oxford looking down from Wytham Woods, a stretch of woodland covering a hill to the west of Oxford, owned by the university and the site of 70 years of ecological research. Continue reading “Painting Wytham”

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A Walk In The Nebbio

We’d picked up a little brochure of local walks from Tourist Information in St-Florent, and this one was just up the road from the spectacular black and white church of San Michele de Murato. It was listed as Balade dans le Nebbiu (stroll in the fog). The Nebbio is the region of Corsica inland from St-Florent, a hinterland enclosed by an amphitheatre of hills, that takes its name from the heavy mists that descend in winter. Today was not sunny, but thankfully we were not enveloped in clouds. Continue reading “A Walk In The Nebbio”

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