Friday, 31 December 2010

New years eve a studio resolution

Work in progress on the new series of paintings West Pennines.
There are a number of things going here for me.
  1.  One is the small collection of unsold/soiled or uncompleted work from two art society demonstrations that I did on this area before in 2008, they leans against various walls and I must have dragged them out from the storeroom for some reason a feature or point of interest on them.
  2. Two are the near completed set of smaller oils heavy and glistening in oil,
  3. three is the work in progress in acrylic and 
  4. four, is the variety of drawings and paintings on paper.

    I'm here looking at them all as a group for the first time I can see the route that I've taken as a painter over the last three years or more.

Works in oils heavy palette work

Gary Long an oil painter whom I admire for his painterly ways
groups of buildings and colour can this benefit from the addition of a different paint 

work undertaken early 2007/8

 below studies in pencil and paint on paper done quickly develop an awareness, in depth knowledge, interest and respect for the subject.

Can all these parts come together can we build a new me from these things that embraces the best of the old
and introduces a more exciting new yes it can. So Im looking forward to returning to the studio in the new year loads to do and its exciting....happy new year

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Oil Paintings Rossendale by Rob Miller

Above Ramsbottom
Oil on canvas

Above Ramsbottom 2
30cm x30cm
Oil on canvas
Two final palate knife works in oil complete this small set, redefining the farms into simple blocks of muted colour and form that still maintain a sense of place, farms and quarrymen cottages, glistening in the sunshine or glisten in the rain,  it really makes no difference here above the valley where the clouds sweep endlessly onwards.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Oil Paintings West Pennine and Rossendale by Rob Miller

The new stables detail
Oil on Canvas

Holcombe Road farm
Oil on canvas

The new stables late summer
Oil on Canvas

Farm near Haslingden summer
Oil on Canvas

It takes me an age to get to the easel to paint in oils; there's no reason behind the delay at all but there it is I've confessed; once there and I have cleaned of the old dried paint on the palette and sorted out my knifes and got started holding the palette close to me;  I stop fighting with the paint; and I start to get the smooth texture that can be moulded and moved;  I stop thinking that I'm making a mess and start to live the experience if you know what I mean. Painting then grabs a hold of me and I love it; love doing it the process is everything and the journey to completion is a daily lesson.

Oil is so different from acrylic; when I paint with acrylic I use old white plates and saucers and  I'm always washing them clean along with the brushes. Oil on the other hand is far messier especially with palette knife and I think the pigment carries and stains more than acrylic pigment and polymer does. Both are fun but as a painter I think for me oil wins its just more creative and technically more challenging.
I'm using a number of resources for this well four really, my old faithful book Cezanne in Provence, Kyfan Williams wonderful palette knife paintings of snowdonia,  an English translation of a  recent great Modern Oil painting book book I found in Barcelona its by two Spanish painters Maria Fernanda Canal and Roser Perez and the post 1940's bible my dads old copy Carlsons Guide to Landscape painting.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Haslingden Pennine Drawings by Rob Miller

Back street and skip
Pen and wash

Britannia Mill Pen and wash
Haslingden is one of those Lancashire Pennine towns that hasn't lost its character and interest;  old works and mills survive alongside the original housing and all of set on the sunny side of a steep valley that dissects the Pennines and gives access to the cities of Salford and Manchester from the Ribble Valley and East Lancashire Towns. The town lies bypassed by the new dual carriage way road that cuts through the hills from the M65 to the M60 (aka M62) and its busy main street half remembered. All this makes it a great place to draw and paint.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Along the Road to Blacksnape Drawing by Rob Miller

Looking along the road to Blacksnape
Mixed media on paper
 The first of a series of drawings and paintings exploring the uplands of Lancashire this group deals with industrial waste and changes in the now open spaces and on the outskirts/suburbs of Lancashires towns.  the mines, mills and other detritus of the industrial revolution.
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Britannia Mill Drawings Rob Miller /Poem The Factory Lad by John Walker

Britannia Mill Haslingden

Britannia Mill Haslingden
Falcon Mill Bolton

a poem by John Walker Blackburn poet 1864

Aw s' bi just fifteen next Micklemas-day,
Aw'm nod varra big o' mi age, sooa they say;
But aw hooap as aw've nod done thrivin',
'Cause aw s' hev three looms in awhile, aw'm towd;
Aw've bin learnin' to weyve sin' eight year' owd,
An' to be a good hand aw'm strivin'.

Mi mother's a widow, an' varra poor
Mi fayther's bin deead twelve months or moor,

An' aw'm th' owdst but one eawt o' seven.
Aw could cry when aw think abeawt trouble there's bin,
Heaw mi mother's bin hampered an' moythered, sin'
My fayther took journey to heaven.

When poorly an' bedfast he said to me,—"John,
Tha'll be a goad lad when aw'm deead an' gone,
An' do wad tha can for thi mother.
God help her, poor lass! hoo'll be soorly tried";
Then he covered his face wi his hands an' cried,
While hot tears fell one after th' other.

Just a month after this an' th' bum-bailies coom,
An' sowd most d t' things eawt d th' little back roam,
Wi some cheers, an' an owd ooak table;
They were sent in bi th' landlord, owd Isaac Steel,
An' aw thowt id wer hard, for he knew reet weel
We should pay him off when we were able.

When t' cased clock wer sowd, which a scoor o' years
I'th' corner hed stoode, aw could see there were tears
Deawn mi mother's smooth features rowlin';
An' aw said to misel', we'll ha'e thad clock back,
If aw work o mi life till mi senners crack,
An' mi buryin' bell is towlin'.

Thad clock wer gi'en to her when fost hoo wer wed,
Though id wornd woth so much i' one sense, hoo said
Except 'cause id coom fro' her fayther.
But aw'm fain to say as it's come back neaw—
Gi'en to us ageean; d'ye wander heaw?
Id wer bowt bi a kindly neighbour.

Such kind, thowtful feelin' quite cheered us up,
For there's drops o' sweetness i' th' bitterest cup;
When it's darkest sun's olez shinin';
An' although black clouds may be hingin' abeawt,
Iv yo'll patiently wait, sun's sure to breyk eawt,
An' give 'em a silvery linin'.

So aw lives i' hooaps as this rainy day,
Like o dark weet weather 'll gooa away;
It's a long neet as hes no mornin'.
Time may come when ther'll be nowt but rooases sweet,
While t' thorns 'll be trampled an' crushed at mi feet,
An' aw s' bless thad day aw wer born in.

There's lots can be honest wi' bellies full,
For they mistake puddin' for principle;
Their goodness is ruled bi their porridge,
But aw trust aw s' be one o' thad honest few,
Hatin' dodgin' an' tricks, as 'll struggle through
Wi' a manly unflinchin' corrage.

So aw'll sing for misel, "Cheer up, young heart!
He's a wastrel sowdger as wern'd do his part,
An' stand amidst thunder an' rattle;
It's poverty tries men's mettle an' might,
An' them as con feight wi' a good name bright
Are the heroes of every battle."

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Northern landscape town and country Rob Miller

Ink drawings acrylic that are  gestural and accurate then there are thin washes, dribbles and runs of oil paint maybe more turps than varnish scratched into splatterd maybe torn like the ragged clouds maybe topped with thin glases of turners medium and then redrawn in oily charcoal  secondly slabs of thick yellower paint heavy with linseed drifting across a landscape of mild ochres and browns beneath muted cream skies is this the landscape of my north. Was this the land that I walked across yesterday

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Painters, Poets, pies and Northern folk

Great Hill Ridge
 above Roddlesworth
My studio faces a 19C large mill, a blank brick wall and a pinky-red bus stop, its an outlook which I quite like because I have got into watching northern folk drift past and wait for the bus, "theres nowt as strange as folk tha nowes" which is a north east lanky saying and its reht, for here in Bolton, the home of the balti pasty, there exists an eclectic mix of bus stop people, blond miniskirted and short crop t shirt wearers,  some pregnant are very prevalent, even in the most cutting of winter winds and snow, they stand with their strong muscled, sun bed legs or orange tans, bare, chain smoking and waving at people who drive past, next appears to be persons of asain origin, with thin legs, currently wrapped in what looks like their shiny silk duvets and cute white mosque hats, there are also plenty of mums with kids of differing ethnicity, middle aged caucasion lady's clutching their tarten trolley bags and now and again smartly dressed folk and on friday mornings,  my favourite people an old chap wearing a flat cap and another one who wears a stetson, they get on different buses. Apart from this growing social diagnostic activity and task avoiding,  I've also been reading about another northern painter in the Art of England; (my article was in the same mag the month before); John Thompson who is based in Oldham and paints northern Oldham scenes of guys in flat caps stood around chattin,
I'm not sure if it was this prolonged bus stop watching or not,  but I realised that I had caught cabin fever , what was I doing I thought to myself, spending time wondering whether or not I should paint the bus stop folk instead of my current landscapes..So it was of great relief when the phone rang and a fellow cabin fever sufferer's brusk northern voice suggested that we go for a walk, the voice belonged to a fellow Bolton based painter Jim, Jim's a rare thing, he's a successful painter with integrity, his studio is further up the road from me,  he had also caught the same fever and said on the phone that he felt it would be good to get out and about into the countryside...Jim  had decided that he wanted to get to Tockholes, a small village which commands the Eastern slopes above the lower Ribblesdale valley, here the moors are cleft by the mighty River Roddlesworth which after the ruined Hollinshead Hall and its haunted well, enters a small gorge, edged by the outcrops of steep grit stone and shale beds, the river here journey in rills through some beautiful old beech woods;  I'm  still, a day later not sure whether Jim was driven by the express need to sample the home made  meat pie at the Roddlesworth cafe near Tockholes or that he really did want to get down to the river,  here the ice had formed long stalactites on the cliffs; and in parts the river itself had frozen solid the ice making a step that was both delicate and hard....personally I preferred the open cold slopes of the moorland and  Jim the deeper valley so we eventually we agreed over the pie which we had to have first that we should compromise and undertake a circular walk that took in both moor and valley..

I have to say that the north has its moments and in Lancashire one of these moments is Tockholes it has some undisputed poetical/painterly  corners and Turner could have found his sublime here and Wordsworth penned this verse....

"In this still place, remote from men
Sleeps Osian in the narrow Glen,
in this still place where murmers on 
But one meek streamlet, only one; "

Glen Almain or the Narrow Glen  pg 312 William Wordsworth.  The major works.

There we were, two northern painters and landscapes painters at that, not a cloth cap in site, quoting Worsdworth we perched on our respective scaps of bubble wrap, attop a fallen tree and drank our hot vimtos and coffee, most of the conversation was about our work, what influenced us and what was currently important to we went about our daily chores and the almost meditative process of painting...both of us have a feeling that the integrity of the painter is in both the vision and execution of a piece of work in that when it leaves the studio it should be of an expected quality.
I think it was this discussion and walk along with the bus stop that helped me to focus my attention on my next series which is an exploration of Lancashires town and exploration that whilst encompassing the old cloth cap as well as mill chimneys takes a broader almost existential sublime view that could be linked to Ruskins journeys, Turner and Wordsworth and revisit some of the meditative influences of painters such as Corot, Cezanne and Pizarro's which has always been a hidden influence which I have never fully pursued here in Lancashire.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Beech Copse near Whalley Rob Miller

Beech Copse on the road from York to Whalley now complete
acrylic on canvas 70cmx50cm
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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Lakeland Paintings in progress for the exhibition 'Kendal and beyond' at the Brewery Arts Centre. Artist Rob Miller

Langdale Pikes when viewed from Little Langdale looking up the valley
this is one of the best of Lakeland scenes. Work in progress Rob Miller 

A second Langdale view looking up to Crinckle Crags and Bowfell
a great winters morning

A third and final for this series, view of the :\Langdales
this one looking down into the valley from the terminal moraine
sunlight shining down in drifts through light cloud in late spring.

Posted by PicasaThe Langdales and the Lakes are always a frightening subject matter for the Landscape painter to paint trying his style out on what are very familiar views of much loved landscapes, firstly there are so many views that are great that its difficult to make the choice...and so many views have been painted by so many before..lets see how it goes shall we...?

Lakeland Paintings in progress for the solo exhibition  'Kendal and beyond'
at the Brewery Arts Centre November 2010-February 2011 Artist Rob Miller

Friday, 15 October 2010

Paintings of the Isle Of Harris A short video by Rob Miller

Bagpipes wow they make a noise,,,
the paintings are of Loch Seaforth and the lower or more southern aspects of the Isle of Harris.
I  put this video together on Googles Picasso and it was quite easy to do
the problem is though that the pan and zoom deliberately mists the images making
the paintings not as clear and as bright as I would have wanted but eh the
bagpipes make up for that...its on you tube and will be one of many videos that we aim to make
in artisan fine art gallery Bolton.

You can see the artwork without the music and the misty effects on my portfolio pages 'hebrides'

Monday, 27 September 2010

On the last day of Automn Original painting by Rob Miller

On the road to Simonstone
Acrylic on Canvas
Finally finished this painting, well almost, unbelievable, its actually taken me nearly a full year,  beginning with working on the idea when I arrived back from Andalusia out in the fresh air on some clear late automn days, when I began looking at Lancashire through an Andalusian pinturas eyes. And, in that process began it when I was working in a shared studio in a  cramped, dark corner at the back of a old spinning mill, but instead of the clack of looms I  listened to sawing machines and  to rock fm. My two easels were situated underneath a large gas fired heater which dried the paint quicker than the Andalusian sun. I struggled here, I think with all the politics that one finds in shared studio space, and also within the limitations of the cramped working area,  it was difficult to work the painting on both vertical and horizontal planes without resorting to being a reborn hippy and squatting on the floor which of course I did not do...So  I think at the time I struggled to find in the the painting in the studio the same poetry that I had experiencd on that cold bright late automn day near Simonstone.
In the studio it was easier draw and paint the Thames in Black, White and grey and  more productive I did sell a couple of drawings that I made there though I was forced to wait a long time for my money and the person replaced the drawings in the folder mixing charcoal with pen drawings, luckily none was too smudged. The mill conditions led to a good atmosphere for deep winter drawings (I notice from a recent exhibition in Sussex that a colleague who shared the same space, who I shall not name, thought so to, she has made some strikingly similar black and white tonal works of London). 
 Luckily yesterday, I re found the Simonstone work  and within the hour had made changes. I like it now, it shows the airy light and demonstrates the higher quality of liquatex when mixed with a blending medium a quality that's starting to appear in the oil paints that I'm working on. Work is available at Artisan Fine Art Gallery Bolton 01204 844820

Friday, 17 September 2010

Painting grasslands words versus paint Rob Miller

Lancashire Summer 1 revisited

Painting in progress

Rob Miller

"And all this grounded in broad meadows, in motion but silent, the quivering landscape inhabited by anonymous flowers, a shudder of thin straight stalks, carrying their seeds, barely attached to the earth yet tied to its darkest depths. As if the earth were becoming purer as it rises to meet the pure sky, holding out these weightless offerings to it going to meet the rain, their sister.......This was all immediately noted.  Fully aware that I was building up one reality beside another or around it retaining a few of its features but concealing or distorting others and because of that I was discouraged from the start. Admitting to myself now and then that the very word grass or better still grassland was more expansive than this seeking for words which run the constant risk of preciosity" Green yes-but neither dark nor light, scarcely a colour at all, less distinct, more effaced or hidden than the green of trees"
Phillippe  Jaccottet May

This quotation from Jaccottets poem 'May', says it all for me about a landscape of grasslands; such is the nature of the Pennine meadows close to my home; places that I have stood silent in and studied, places that I have walked in and through and most of all places that I have drawn and painted; grasses of light sometimes lighter than the sky itself, I painted them, after a long process of finding the right marks to make on my canvas or paper, painted  as thin washes  layers of paint scratched into, stripped dripped and rubbed simplifying them to find the essence of their nature, Jaccottet does the same simplifying and reducing what he sees and experiences, tuning his carefully chosen words to hum at the same decibels as the grass blown in the wind,  

Are words better than images or mark making, at describing figurative things, beauty, awe, or emotional responses to them, is there an advantage of poetry over paint, a poem can be on many levels in many verses each being laid bare as it is read,  can a painting a painting do the same, 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Londons Skyline - River Thames; Drawings by Rob Miller

Mixed Media
Londons Thames ain front of cranes and steel constructions

 Mixed Media Drawing
London Tower in front of new buildings with cranes 2010
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Saturday, 11 September 2010

Sketches on the Ribble by Portugese Artist Manuel Casa Branca

Manuel Casa Branca

Heres a piece from my colleagues and friends blog the artist and painter Manuel Casa Branca drawn just below Hurst Green.

Da visita ao Ribble Valley/Lancashire guiado pelo colega e amigo Rob Miller resultaram vários desenhos no Diário Gráfico/Caderno de Campo. Mas também resultaram frutos da conversa que fomos tendo ao longo do rio sobre a paisagem e sobre as teorias de Jonh Ruskin. este processo de contacto com a paisagem iglesa e as suas características foram fundamentais para compreender o livro que ando a ler há uns meses deste teórico da arte e aguarelista – The Elements of Drawing. este livro foi publicado pela primeira vez em 1857 e influenciou Monet e Seurat para os fundamentos teóricos do Impressionismo e do Pontilhismo/Divisionismo, respectivamente. Ruskin também andou por ali, e foi baseado nesta paisagem e nos percursos que fez na companhia da raínha Vitória de Inglaterra que determinou qual a unidade de paisagem representativa do ideal Inglês. Concerteza uma atitude pós-romântica que juntamente com as suas práticas e teorias do Naturalismo e ajudaram a anunciar o Impressionismo.

The visit to the Ribble Valley / Lancashire led by colleague and friend Rob Miller led several drawings in the Sketchbook. But also resulted fruits of that conversation we were having along the river on the landscape and on the theories of John Ruskin. this process of contact with the English landscape and their characteristics were essential to understand the book that I've read a few months of this watercolor artist and art theorist - The Elements of Drawing. this book was first published in 1857 and influenced Monet and Seurat to the theoretical foundations of Impressionism and Pointillism / Divisionism respectively. Ruskin also walked around, and was based on this landscape and rides that made with the company of Queen Victoria of England, who determined that the unit representing the ideal English landscape. Clearly a post-Romantic attitude that, together with its Naturalistic practices and theories helped to announce Impressionism.

Dentdale original sketch/drawings by Rob Miller

Upper Dentdale
Drawing Charcoal and Ink
Rob Miller
Scow Dentdale
Drawing Charcoal and Ink
Rob Miller
This is the second Dale that Ive been attracted to work in. Like Roeburndale, Dentdale is a Lancashire |Yorkshire hidden gem with a quickly changing 19th/20th century history. I've posted below an article that I've cut and pasted from a Yorkshire Paper and is a good read.... Im not sure which paper it came from, but the reporter is John Woodcock..
Yorkshire's secret dale might now be re-named Enterprise Dale. John Woodcock reports on some of the remarkable results .Ask a policeman, even a retired one, for directions and you don't expect confusion. "Where exactly are you?", I enquired of Tony Playfoot. "We're in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, we're administered by South Lakeland District Council, we have old West Riding milestones, and a Lancashire postcode – so you tell me where we are."
Ah, then that'll be Dentdale, a ten-mile heavenly ribbon but with something of an identity crisis.
The tourism department appears undecided on a suitable description, so in one leaflet they cover all the angles. "A peaceful paradise"; "the hidden dale close to the Lake District"; "the Yorkshire Dales National Park's secret dale". Hidden? Secret? It's a wonder anyone ever finds it, but they do, and sometimes with surprising results.  There was a group of people, unconnected to one another but for their own reasons looking for a change of direction. The motorways which took them away from Manchester and Reading, Cambridge and Warrington, Bristol and Hampshire, eventually led all to the two narrow lanes of Dentdale. Some still express surprise at what they've become beside the Dee, the stream which tumbles through the dale and which Tony Playfoot insists on calling a river, perhaps because he spent 15 years of his police career submerged in them. Of all the reshaped lives among the dale's incomers his is one of the more unlikely. Such is his gratitude, the ex-bobby now regards it almost as a duty to help promote the wider story. It's about Dentdale's struggle to protect its soul while embracing those who have introduced fresh ideas for earning a living where farming is grappling with survival.
Two examples. In Dent village a forge is still keeping company with the cobbled streets and colour-washed cottages, but today's blacksmith is young and female, with a degree in English – and Lucy Sandys-Clarke doesn't do horseshoes.Four miles away is a former Royal Navy helicopter crewman and coastguard, Brian Bannister. He grew to hate the sea's cruelty, returned to his roots and now makes walking sticks and runs courses on the craft beneath the Settle-Carlisle railway line on which his father was a signalman.And Playfoot? He was a member of an underwater search unit until force politics intervened. He was transferred to Salford, assaulted five times and twice put in hospital.
After 28 years in the police force, his disillusionment was such that when he and his wife Margaret were walking the Dales Way in 1992 they saw their future: a property for sale at Cowgill, at the eastern end of Dentdale. Within two months they'd sold up in Cheshire, bought the former Quaker meeting house, built in 1702, and with the remains of 250 believers buried in the garden, and Tony was looking for work.
On the manual side, there was plenty. He cut lawns and weeded, felled trees and dug graves. The next turning point came when he took up the cornet – the first instrument he'd ever played – and joined Sedbergh Town Band. He then discovered that when a trumpet's valves seize up, a trombone stops sliding, a tuba gets dented, or simply when there's muck in brass, finding a remedy isn't easy. He learned the skills and now is one of only four brass instrument repairers in the North of England.
"From playing my first note only six years ago, music has also given me a niche business. It shows what's possible when you take a chance and opt for a life-changing experience. There are other examples throughout the dale," said Tony, guiding us round a few as unofficial promoter of Dentdale's diverse business community. Traditionalists might sneer at the way things are going but Playfoot asks where the dale would be without tourism, second homes and new markets.  "Six farms have gone since we've been here. The challenge is to strike a right balance between the values and beauty which have brought and kept people here, and developing a local economy that benefits everyone. Without customers, there would be no shop, pubs, dry-stone wallers, or anything. The dale would die." Janet Browning felt her spirit was dying when working for the Legal Services Commission in Cambridge. "For me it had become a mindless bureaucracy I was desperate to escape from." She had discovered Dent through walking the Dales Way, and during a revisit in 2004 began asking herself serious questions, especially as she'd overcome breast cancer. "I wondered if I could manage to make a life up here rather than self-destructing in my existing one. I stopped hesitating and did it." Janet paid £365,000 for Stone Close tea room and guest house, a 17th-century listed building. Her approach? "Home baking and wholesome food – local, seasonal and organic produce. I don't do chips, and I don't make much money, not with a business loan to repay, but it's a lifestyle choice. It enables me to live in a fantastic place. I feel I've saved myself." Two of her near-neighbours have also revived themselves. David Bellis had been a shopfitter and decorator in Warrington for 20 years when he and his family decided to find a beautiful landscape in which they could a earn a reasonable income. In short, a "lifestyle business." They looked for their ideal from Devon to Scotland before deciding on Dent and the Meadowside Café-Bar. They had to overcome some negative village politics because not everyone shared their enthusiasm for a cultural shift. That apart, they couldn't be more content. Bellis has a theory. "Problems and traffic lights go together. Where they start, so do noise and dirt, stress and anti-social behaviour. Fortunately we're 16 miles from the nearest set. I'm all for progress, but not if it means spoiling things. Nowadays there are bouncers in Windermere. It's becoming like Leeds with a lake." If a bistro and other changes represent Dentdale's future, Jim and Margaret Taylor are catering to its past. Their farming backgrounds in the area go back generations and agriculture's decline prompted them to open the Dent Village Heritage Centre. It describes the lives and social customs of earlier Dales folk, and several of the exhibits were collected by the Taylors over 25 years. They tell an intriguing story about Dentdale. It used to have over 100 farms and, according to parish records for 1861, 20 shoemakers, an umbrella repairer, 44 knitters, 14 dressmakers, nine tailors, and 18 food and clothing shops. Plus another rarity of modern rural life – its own policeman.
A snapshot of Dentdale in 2007 would be equally revealing. The business directory lists a yoga specialist, stairlift supplier, designer, computer expert and furniture makers and highlights the extent to which tourists are pampered – Anthony Cheetham is offering the use of classic sports cars to his bed and breakfast guests – and also illustrates how arts and crafts are flourishing in the dale. Sheffield-born John Cooke gave up teaching art and geography in East Anglia to open a studio in Dent. Since then many of his paintings have been used in a commercial context as posters, cards, calendars and book covers. Through his landscapes, Dentdale has reached a gallery in Dubai and the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. After graduating with a degree in typography, Pip Hall lived in a city for 20 years. She moved to the dale two years ago and is now a stone carver and lettering artist. She says the tranquillity is inspirational.
Others share the sensation. Even when hammering mild steel on her anvil and producing gates, door handles, window catches, and ornamental work, Lucy Sandys-Clarke remains aware of the peace outside her workplace. It's one of the elements that keeps her in Dentdale. After university she'd considered London and a career in journalism until a visit to her grandmother near Sedburgh changed everything. She learned about metalwork from a blacksmith nearby and last August took over the Dent forge. he dismisses the clichéd view that its heat, noise, flying sparks and workshop clutter seems an alien environment for an attractive, cultured woman of 29. "I don't consider myself a novelty. I'm doing a serious and satisfying job, and in such a beautiful place. To leave the dale now would be the hardest decision