Sunday, 30 August 2009
This was a feel-nice painting to paint from start to finish. I began to paint it at the end of June on a late in the day, another hot Andalucian evening. We both sat under the shade of one gnarled ancient being and painted the gnarled beings in front of us. The Olive grove was a mass of flowers, the air hummed with insects gathering pollen and the shimmering sky was red hot.
An Olive Tree one late evening in June Gaucin
Acrylic on canvas
51 x 51 cm
Saturday, 29 August 2009
To a great extent that is what I had painted after walking through the town one late winters sunset and down the road to where the memorial stands, the two works are still unsold, they are similar to me to the paintings I did of the room where people changed before they were led to the gas chambers, its highlighted in an earlier blog. Both situations have great similarities, I think, one day people living together and the next day slaughtering each other and for what maybe its becase they lost there beliefs or because weak politicians had lost the strength to hold the middle ground and extremism had been allowed to flourish.
Thursday, 27 August 2009
|Notes from a small sketch book 2010 Rio Gedal Andalucia|
|Notes from a small sketchbook England 2008|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Portugal 2011|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Casares Spain 2011|
|Notes from a mall sketchbook Montimor 2012 Portugal|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Egerton Bolton 2006|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Rivington Chorley 2006|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Pennine 2005|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Cranham Gloucestershire UK 1|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Cranham Gloucestershire UK 2|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Cranham Gloucestershire UK 3|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Cranham Gloucestershire UK 4|
|Notes from a small sketchbook The Lingholm Estate Cumbria|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Iceland Husavik North Sailing|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Iceland Husavik North Sailing 2|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Iceland Husavik North Sailing 3|
|Notes from a small sketchbook Iceland Husavik North Sailing 4|
|North Britain farm|
|Portugal Oak Woods|
Sunday, 23 August 2009
This is a political poster; The interpreter of the thought of people who want a new Spain. Daily Unionist Party. 'The village represents the thinking of those who want a new spain. " Spain. Ballester, Spanish Civil War Propaganda posters representing the Sindicalist party.
Guernica is navy blue, black and white, 3.5 metre (11 ft) tall and 7.8 metre (25.6 ft) wide, a mural-size canvas painted in oil. This painting can be seen in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid. Picasso's purpose in painting it, was to bring to the world's attention the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by German bombers, who were supporting the Nationalist forces of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso completed the painting by mid-June 1937. Picasso exhibited his mural-size painting at the Spanish display at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937) (Paris International Exposition) in the 1937 World's Fair in Paris and then at other venues around the world. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City mounted an important Picasso exhibition on November 15, 1939 that remained on view until January 7, 1940, entitled: Picasso:40 Years of His Art, that was organized by Alfred H. Barr (1902–1981), in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition contained 344 works, including Guernica and its studies.
Guernica shows suffering people, animals, and buildings wrenched by violence and chaos.
- The overall scene is within a room where, at an open end on the left, a wide-eyed bull stands over a woman grieving over a dead child in her arms.
- The centre is occupied by a horse falling in agony as it had just been run through by a spear or javelin. It is important to note that the large gaping wound in the horse's side is a major focus of the painting.
- Two "hidden" images formed by the horse appear in Guernica (illustrated to the right):
- A human skull overlays the horse's body.
- A bull appears to gore the horse from underneath. The bull's head is formed mainly by the horse's entire front leg which has the knee on the ground. The leg's knee cap forms the head's nose. A horn appears within the horse's breast.
- The bull's tail forms the image of a flame with smoke rising from it, seemingly appearing in a window created by the lighter shade of gray surrounding it.
- Under the horse is a dead, apparently dismembered soldier; his hand on a severed arm still grasps a shattered sword from which a flower grows.
- On the open palm of the dead soldier is a stigma, a symbol of martyrdom derived from the stigmata of Christ. Picasso was not religious, although he was brought up in the predominantly Catholic Spain, and this symbol is not to be interpreted as Christian identification.
- A light bulb blazes in the shape of an evil eye over the suffering horse's head (the bare bulb of the torturer's cell.) Picasso's intended symbolism in regards to this object is related to the Spanish word for lightbulb; "bombilla", which makes an allusion to "bomb" and therefore signifies the destructing effect which technology can have on society.
- To the upper right of the horse, a frightened female figure, who seems to be witnessing the scenes before her, appears to have floated into the room through a window. Her arm, also floating in, carries a flame-lit lamp. The lamp is positioned very close to the bulb, and is a symbol of hope, clashing with the lightbulb.
- From the right, an awe-struck woman staggers towards the center below the floating female figure. She looks up blankly into the blazing light bulb.
- Daggers that suggest screaming replace the tongues of the bull, grieving woman, and horse.
- A bird, possibly a dove, stands on a shelf behind the bull in panic.
- On the far right, a figure with arms raised in terror is entrapped by fire from above and below.
- A dark wall with an open door defines the right end of the mural.
- A flower underneath the horse.
 Symbolism and interpretations
Interpretations of Guernica vary widely and contradict one another. This extends, for example, to the mural's two dominant elements: the bull and the horse. Art historian Patricia Failing said, "The bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture. Picasso himself certainly used these characters to play many different roles over time. This has made the task of interpreting the specific meaning of the bull and the horse very tough. Their relationship is a kind of ballet that was conceived in a variety of ways throughout Picasso's career."
When pressed to explain them in Guernica, Picasso said, "...this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse... If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are."
In "The Dream and Lie of Franco," a series of narrative sketches also created for the World's Fair, Franco is depicted as a monster that first devours his own horse and later does battle with an angry bull. Work on these illustrations began before the bombing of Guernica, and four additional panels were added, three of these relate directly to the Guernica mural.
Picasso said as he worked on the mural: "The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? ... In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.
However, according to scholar Beverly Ray the following list of interpretations reflects the general consensus of historians:
- The shape and posture of the bodies express protest.
- Picasso uses black, white, and grey paint to set a somber mood and express pain and chaos.
- Flaming buildings and crumbling walls not only express the destruction of Guernica, but reflect the destructive power of civil war.
- The newspaper print used in the painting reflects how Picasso learned of the massacre.
- The light bulb in the painting represents the sun.
- The broken sword near the bottom of the painting symbolizes the defeat of the people at the hand of their tormentors. (Berger 1980; Chipp 1988)
 Historical context
Guernica was a small town located in Spain's Basque country. During the Spanish Civil War, it was regarded as the northern bastion of the Republican resistance movement and the epicenter of Basque culture, adding to its significance as a target.
The Republican forces were made up of assorted factions (Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, to name a few) with wildly differing approaches to government and eventual aims, but a common opposition to the Nationalists. The Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, were also factionalized but to a less great extent. They sought a return to the golden days of Spain, based on law, order, and traditional Catholic family values.
An article "exposing the red myth" of Guernica by Jeffrey Hart of Dartmouth College was published in 1973 with the title "The Guernica Fraud" and reprinted in Die Welt and Il Tempo. In Il Tempo the article had as its title "Sensational Revelations Destroy a Myth".
At about 16:30 on Monday, 27 April 1937, warplanes of the German Condor Legion, commanded by Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, bombed Guernica for about two hours. The Germans, who at this time were under Hitler's reign, were fighting in support of the Nationalists and using the war as an opportunity to test out new weapons and tactics. Later, intense aerial bombardment became a crucial preliminary step in the Blitzkrieg tactic.
In his journal for 30 April 1937, von Richthofen wrote:
- "When the first Junker squadron arrived, there was smoke already everywhere (from the VB [VB/88] which had attacked with 3 aircraft); nobody would identify the targets of roads, bridge, and suburb, and so they just dropped everything right into the center. The 250s toppled a number of houses and destroyed the water mains. The incendiaries now could spread and become effective. The materials of the houses: tile roofs, wooden porches, and half-timbering resulted in complete annihilation. Most inhabitants were away because of a holiday; a majority of the rest left town immediately at the beginning [of the bombardment]. A small number perished in shelters that were hit."
This account contains striking discrepancies from other accounts that cite that the towns members were in fact congregated in the center of town as it was market day, and when the bombardment commenced, were unable to escape the inferno because the roads leading out of the center of the town were full of debris and the bridges leading out of town had been destroyed.
Guernica's location was at a major crossroads 10 kilometers from the front lines and between the front lines and Bilbao, the capital of Bizkaia. Any Republican retreat towards Bilbao and any Nationalist advance towards Bilbao had to pass through Guernica. "During 25 April, many of the demoralized (Republican) troops from Marquina fell back on Guernica, which lay 10 kilometers behind the lines." Wolfram von Richthofen's war diary entry for 26 April 1937 states, "K/88 [the Condor Legion bomber force] was targeted at Guernica in order to halt and disrupt the Red withdrawal which has to pass through here." The following day, Richthofen wrote in his war diary, "Guernica burning." The Republican retreat towards Bilbao did pass through Guernica, before and after the bombing, and, as Beevor points out, "At Guernica the communist Rosa Luxembourg Battalion under Major Cristobal held back the nationalists for a time".
Guernica was a quiet village. The nearest military target of any consequence was a factory on the outskirts of the town, which manufactured various war products. The factory went through the attack unscathed. Thus, the motivation of the bombing was clearly one of intimidation. Furthermore, a majority of the town's men were away as they were fighting on behalf of the Republicans. Thus, the town at the time of the bombing was populated mostly by women and children.
These demographics are reflected in the painting because, as Rudolf Arnheim writes, for Picasso: "The women and children make Guernica the image of innocent, defenseless humanity victimized. Also, women and children have often been presented by Picasso as the very perfection of mankind. An assault on women and children is, in Picasso's view, directed at the core of mankind." Clearly, the Nationalists sought to demoralize the Republicans and the civilian population as a whole by demonstrating their military might on a town that stood for traditional Basque culture and innocent civilians.
After the bombing, it was through the work of the Basque and Republican sympathizer and London Times journalist George Steer that propelled this event onto the international scene and brought it to Pablo Picasso's attention. Steer, who rushed to town, compiled his observations into an article that was published on April 28 in both The Times and The New York Times, and which on the 29th, appeared in L'Humanité, a French Communist daily. Steer wrote:
- "Guernica, the most ancient town of the Basques and the centre of their cultural tradition, was completely destroyed yesterday afternoon by insurgent air raiders. The bombardment of this open town far behind the lines occupied precisely three hours and a quarter, during which a powerful fleet of aeroplanes consisting of three types of German types, Junkers and Heinkel bombers, did not cease unloading on the town bombs weighing from 1,000 lbs. downwards and, it is calculated, more than 3,000 two-pounder aluminium incendiary projectiles. The fighters, meanwhile, plunged low from above the centre of the town to machinegun those of the civilian population who had taken refuge in the fields."
It was through this article that Picasso was made aware of what had gone on his country of origin. At the time, he was working on a mural for the Paris Exhibition to be held in the summer of 1937, commissioned by the Spanish Republican government. He deserted his original idea and on May 1, 1937, began on Guernica. This captivated his imagination unlike his previous idea, on which he had been working somewhat dispassionately, for a couple of months. It is interesting to note, however, that at its unveiling at the Paris Exhibition that summer, it garnered little attention. It would later attain its power as such a potent symbol of the destruction of war on innocent lives.
 1937 Paris International Exhibition
Guernica was initially exhibited in July 1937 at the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition. The Pavilion, which was financed by the Spanish Republican government at the time of civil war, was built to exhibit the Spanish government's struggle for existence contrary to the Exposition's technology theme. The Pavilion's entrance presented an enormous photographic mural of Republican soldiers accompanied by the slogan:
- We are fighting for the essential unity of Spain.
- We are fighting for the integrity of Spanish soil.
- We are fighting for the independence of our country and for
- the right of the Spanish people to determine their own destiny.
 Post-exhibition experiences
After the Paris Exhibition, the painting went on tour, first to the Scandinavian capitals, then to London, where it arrived on September 30, 1938, the same day the Munich Agreement was signed by the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. The London exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery included preparatory studies and was organised by Roland Penrose with Clement Atlee addressing a public meeting. It then returned briefly to France; after the victory of Francisco Franco in Spain, the painting was sent to the United States to raise funds and support for Spanish refugees. At Picasso's request the safekeeping of the piece was entrusted to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. It formed the centerpiece of a Picasso retrospective at MoMA which opened six weeks after the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Between 1939 and 1952, the painting traveled extensively in the United States; between 1953 and 1956 it was shown in Brazil, at the first-ever Picasso retrospective in Milan, Italy, and then in numerous other major European cities, before returning to MoMA for a retrospective celebrating Picasso's seventy-fifth birthday. It then went on to Chicago and Philadelphia. By this time, concern for the state of the painting resulted in a decision to keep it in one place: a room on MoMA's third floor, where it was accompanied by several of Picasso's preliminary studies and some of Dora Maar's photos. The studies and photos were often loaned for other exhibitions, but until 1981, Guernica itself remained at MoMA.
While living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II, Picasso suffered harassment from the Gestapo. One officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of Guernica in his apartment, "Did you do that?" Picasso responded, "No, you did."
During the Vietnam War, the room containing the painting became the site of occasional anti-war vigils. These were usually peaceful and uneventful, but in 1974, Tony Shafrazi — ostensibly protesting Richard Nixon's pardon of William Calley for the latter's actions during the My Lai massacre — defaced the painting with red spray paint, painting the words "KILL LIES ALL"; the paint was removed with relative ease from the varnished surface.
As early as 1968, Franco had expressed an interest in having Guernica return to Spain. However, Picasso refused to allow this until the Spanish people again enjoyed a republic. He later added other conditions, such as the restoration of "public liberties and democratic institutions". Picasso died in 1973. Franco, ten years Picasso's junior, died two years later, in 1975. After Franco's death, Spain was transformed into a democratic constitutional monarchy, ratified by a new constitution in 1978. However, MOMA was reluctant to give up one of their greatest treasures and argued that a constitutional monarchy did not represent the republic that had been stipulated in Picasso's will as a condition for the painting's return. Under great pressure from a number of observers, MOMA finally ceded the painting to Spain in 1981. The Spanish historian Javier Tusell was one of the negotiators.
Friday, 21 August 2009
The politics of an isolated farm, collection of buildings, hamlets in the UK have always fascinated me, in particular the settlement and resettlement of farms in the harder and higher Northern locations.
As an artist especially someone who is more than interested in the way that the landscape relates to the inhabitants sometimes its interesting to delve into the deeper morass of reason. Spain offers a very different different view than that of the non Hispanic world and it was of interest to come across writings about the famous Spanish philosopher Ortega translated into English which gives a real view of Spain. I've cut and pasted it here to share with fellow seekers of understanding.....many thanks and all credits etc to Howard Young professor of Romance languages, Pomona College, California, US. whose writings gave me much thought when I sat and drew painted in Andalucia
Jose Ptrega y Gassets was a Spanish philosopher and essayist, professor of the University of Madrid and founder of the magazine Revista de Occidente. Ortega y Gasset's writings range over history, politics, aesthetics and art criticism, as well as the history of philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. In 1929 Ortega published one of his best known works, The Revolt of the Masses, where he characterized the 20th-century society as dominated by masses of mediocre and indistinguishable individuals. Ortega's ideas converged those of other 'mass society' theorists such as Karl Mannheim, Erich Fromm and Hannah Arendt.
"Minorities are individual or groups of individuals especially qualified. The masses are the collection of people not specially qualified." (from The Revolt of the Masses, 1930)
José Ortega y Gasset was born in Madrid. He studied at a Jesuit school in Miraflores, Málaga (1891-97) and University of Deusto, Bilbao (1897-98), University of Madrid (1898-1904), receiving his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1904. He continued his studies in the universities of Berlin, Leipzig and Marburg (1905-07), a center of neo-Kantianism, and worked two years as a professor of at Escuela Superior del Magisterio. In 1910 he was appointed professor of metaphysics at Central University of Madrid (1910-1936). Ortega married Rosa Spottorno Topete in 1910; they had three children.
In 1908 Ortega founded the journal Faro. He was founder of Espãna review (1915-23), and Revista de la Occidente (1923-36), and cofounded El Sol. In 1914 Ortega was elected to the Royal Spanish Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. He was also a cofounder of League of Political Education. With Ramón Pérez de Ayala and Gregorio Marañón, he founded Group at the Service of the Republic in 1931.
A liberal in politics, he opposed Primo de Rivera's dictatorship (1923-30) and resigned from his post as professor in protest against the military dictator. Ortega was convinced that the monarchy could not any more unite the Spaniards toward a common goa, and he became a Republicanl. After the fall of Rivera and the abdication of King Alfonso XIII, Ortega sat in the constituent assembly of the Second Republic from 1931 to 1932, and he was deputy for the province of León and Civil Governor of Madrid. One year as an elected representative to the parliament made Ortega disillusioned, he withdrew and kept a pointed silence about Spanish politics from then on.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) Ortega was a voluntary exile in Argentina and Europe, unwilling to support either side or hold academic office under Franco. From 1941 he was a professor of philosophy at the University of San Marcos, Lima. After the World War II he returned in Spain and founded the Institute of Humanites in Madrid, but lack of support led to its closing after two years. He lectured frequently in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. In 1949 he was invited to the Center for the Humanites in Aspen, Colorado. Ortega died in Madrid on October 18, 1955.
"Conversation is the socializing instrument par excellence, and in its style one can see reflected the capacities of a race." (from Invertebrate Spain, 1922)
As an essayist Ortega y Gasset was one of the finest of the 20th century in any language. Most of his books were collections of articles and essays. He wrote in lucid Castilinian with mastery of the language. Most of his writings were originally published in Spain's leading newspapers and journals, or delivered as lectures. As a lecturer and orator Ortega was charismatic and his expressiveness is apparent throughout his writings. Ortega hoped to incite readers to take up and develop the issues under discussion - life was for him an intense dialogue between oneself and one's environment. The Revolt of the Masses presented that society is composed of masses and dominant minorities. The work echoed the warnings of 19th-century liberals that democracy carried with it the risk of tyranny by the majority. When earlier masses had recognized the superiority of elites, in modern times masses wanted to dominate. Bolshevism and fascism were symptoms of usurpation of power by the "mass man." Ortega sees that the mass man demands nothing and lives like everyone else, without vision or compelling moral code. The distinction does not correspond "upper" or "lover" classes, but goes between people who live in the service of ideals and myopic scientists, the prototype of "learned ignoramus." 'The modern world is a civilized one; its inhabitant is not.'
Ortega's main literary criticism is in his book IDEAS SOBRE LA NOVELA (1925). He saw that literature is disguised philosophy. He was shocked by writers like Pirandello and the disappearance of human characters familiar from the works of Dickens. Artists should be content to be artists and not try to be prophets. He condemned the new art as a flight from reality and from humanity. Ortega saw Goethe as an example of a writer who was not true to his calling. A writer must have a vision. "A novelist, for instance, who tells me that a character is morose makes me work to imagine a morose person, but he should show me and make me discover that so-and-so is morose without telling me." Similar lines of thought he presented in The Dehumanization of Art (1925), in which the term "dehumanization" referred to the emergence of the modern painting, which has eliminated the human figure and human metaphors, and the notion that the quality of art is not based primarily on its content but on its form.
Philosophically Ortega moved from neo-Kantianism to a form of existentialism that he expounded unsystematically in a pungent, popular style. Ortega's metaphysics began with a critique of both realism and idealism. Neither view is acceptable, prior them is the category of life: "I am not my life. This, which is reality, is made up of me and of things. Things are not me and I am not things: we are mutually transcendent, but both are immanent in that absolute coexistence which is life." (from Unas lecciones de metafisica, 1966) Ortega identified reality with "my life", which is "myself" and "my circumstances" (yo soy yo y mi circumstancia - I am I and my circumstances).
When the writers of the older generation, including Miguel de Unamuno, used such vague concepts as "national spirit" and "national psychology," Ortega emphasized sociology based on science, rational ethics, and aesthetics. Culture sets problems which each generation must resolve. The "generation" that brings about a change of collective vigencias , the conforming elements of a text or a society, is the basic historical unit. One of Ortega's root metaphors describes life as shipwreck - stressing the human need for action and invention in order to survive. We are in continual danger of catastrophe, and in the struggle our chief asset is reason. "Life is a task," he often stressed. Under the influence of Spengler, he saw that European civilization and Spanish in particular, was falling into decay.
In the 1920s and 1930s under the spell of Ortega y Gasset, Bergson, Spengler, Keyserling and others, a reaction arose among intellectuals against the democratic and social enlightenment. The philosopher's attempt to make the "revolt of the masses" responsible for the alienation and degradation of modern culture, prepared indirectly way for fascism. Politically Ortega favored a form of aristocracy - culture is maintained by an intellectual aristocracy because the revolutions of the masses threaten to destroy culture. From the late 1920s Ortega's thought showed the influence of Martin Heidegger, whose major work, Sein und Zeit (1927, Being and Time), was not transparently political but was later interpreted against his Nazi sympathies.
In the New World, the pueblo hastened to commandeer certain icons of Catholicism, notably the Virgin of Guadalupe with the Indian tone of her skin and her identification with the Indians. Popular culture now embraces mass culture: radio, cinema and, above all, the telenovelas , whose appeal extends from Moscow to Patagonia and which have been influential in creating a unified national and international market, much to the annoyance of intellectuals such as Theodor Adorno, who considered popular culture superficial and fleeting.
Meanwhile, the new version of the melting pot in what used to be called the "neighbours to the north" continues as more elements enter the mix.
Arrivals from Castro's Cuba in 1958-59 have multiplied and face Chicanos, whose occupancy of the US Southwest preceded the arrival of the Mayflower .
The last chapter of this anthology, written by Ilan Stavans and pointedly titled "Hispanic USA", is one of the most fascinating. Given the speed of the media today, we are literally witnessing the rapid growth of a language in an immediate way never before experienced. There are 350 million speakers of English and 250 million speakers of Spanish, and they are all potential users of a new language developing from the contact between English and Spanish, known as el espanglés . When the Mexican poet, essayist and Nobel prizewinner Octavio Paz was asked his opinion of "fractured Spanish", he said: "It's neither good nor bad - it's awful." The purists have always fought a losing battle, but this time it seems more obvious.
Spanish is elastic and polyphonic, as Stavans points out, quick to borrow, Hispanicise and invent new combinations of words. The effortless handling of a different set of codes widens the registers available from traditional academic "purity" to puns and double-puns, handled by gifted, highly educated individuals, such as Susana Chávez-Silverman, whose memoirs ( Killer Crónicas ) are sheer bilingualisms, determined to use Spanish and English in new ways. There is still the transnational respectability of Castilian, but the Spanish born from contact with English is leading the way towards a new Romance language.
Howard Young is professor of Romance languages, Pomona College, California, US.
70 x 70 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
Light dances across the valley floor as sun and frost go head to head in Roeburndale. A hot February day in 2008 you could almost see a slice of misted air hovering and shimmering above the ice cold ground.
60 x 60cm
acrylic on canvas
Barn and tractor, The colours of the sunset were refracted from the ground and hovered in the air; captured in the multiple lenses of frost drops; a moments image fractured then sparkles.
60 x 60 cm
acrylic on canvas
I first encountered Roeburndale as I walked from Slaidburn to Caton over the fells of the Bowland Forest. I thought Roeburndale was a wet place with splendid views of the Yorkshire dales. My second visit years later was much more magical. On a hot late winters day I encountered a valley of great peace.
I spent the entire day and another two more besides, exploring here and there, painting and sketching as I went meeting no one but very clean sheep, crows and the occasional sight of a fox or buzzard. However, on the fourth day I met and had a number of conversations with some local cloth capped shepherds and farmers all of which took place weirdly in the middle of high pastures. Removed from sight of any dwellings we sheltered by the lee of a wall from sudden showers which scudded across the valley. The showers went thundering off to Yorkshire leaving brilliant blue skies and rainbows in their wake. Through discussion these very rural people recounted some stories of their life’s in the valley, the ministry of the chapel, their vocation to their God, the marriage of their parents in the different farmsteads, and some great stories of sheep. They had real humour, character and Christian faith. In my mind I could see these old guys working hard, caring for their land through wind and rain for the last 60 years or more. All this humbled under their Gods sky across the wide open valley. The annual cycle a reminder of mans fallibility. It was this and the whole Roeburndale experience that set me on a train of thought so I began painting a series on Roeburndale landscapes in Winter followed by Easter Sunday, Whitsuntide and Pentecost.