Open Country

We’ve got a new window display for October – Open Country: Wood Engravings of the Wessex Downs and Coast by Howard Phipps. It’s a display that celebrates Howard’s love of the West Country and Dorset in particular. These are patiently wrought images, slow-grown evocations carved in wood and printed in exquisite detail, they always seem to capture the essential timeless spirit of each particular place depicted. Continue reading “Open Country”

Frames of reference

A Talkative Font

Last October Howard Phipps wrote about Eggardon for Frames Of Reference, and he sent me a postcard from the nearby church of St Basil in Toller Fratrum, noting on the back that John Piper was keen on the font. It is either late Saxon or early Norman, with crudely carved figures on a limestone carousel and such an endearing image I wished he could have used it in his Eggardon post. Continue reading “A Talkative Font”

Frames of reference

From Eggardon Hill & Pilsdon Pen

The four landscape paintings on exhibition at The Rowley Gallery were committed to 200gsm acid-free paper using artist’s watercolours and gouache from the peaks of Eggardon Hill and Pilsdon Pen in north west Dorset. Pilsdon is Dorset’s highest hill, and closely associated with the legend of the screaming skull at Bettiscombe Manor, down there in the Marshwood Vale. For many years the skull in question was believed to be that of an African servant girl of the 18th century. Under recent analysis it was proved to be the skull of a young girl of the late Neolithic, circa 4,000 BC. This is close to the vintage of the ancient shaped hills and sacred landscapes of Dorset – stone circles, burrows, tumps, burial sites, excarnation sites, and later fashioned as fortresses raised against the worsening weather and tribal pomp of the Iron Age. All are studded with human, animal and ritual remains in their steep, deeply dug chalk banks. Continue reading “From Eggardon Hill & Pilsdon Pen”

Frames of reference

Eggardon

During the last few years I have become increasingly interested in certain distinctive downland hills such as Melbury Beacon, and hill forts such as Hambledon Hill and Winkelbury Hillfort. These either in Dorset or Wiltshire where the short turf on the chalk helps in defining their underlying structure, and where these hills often rise quite steeply from their surrounding valleys. I am also interested in the way artists often get involved with a subject over time, as I frequently return to a theme again and again. Witness Paul Nash for instance and his preoccupation with the two hills at Wittenham Clumps. Continue reading “Eggardon”

Frames of reference