Friday, 25 February 2011

Rivington Beech, West Pennine Lancashire drawings by Rob Miller

Rivington Beech 1
Mixed media


Rivington Beech 2
Mixed media

Rivington Beech 3
Mixed media
Three small drawings of the Beech tree copses in Rivingtons, northern winter gloaming,  seen on the road up to Belmont..Long gone are the joys of automn and its colours. The sun sets to complete another dull, late afternoon, its last flash of light brings a momentary quickening of bright that seeks out each subtle, shade of grey in the empty overhanging clouds and turns them into bands of silver, the rusting, gold of last years leafs are now almost muffled by grey green moss covered walls and trees which drip peat brown water in syncopated harmony.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Blackburn outskirts 2 drawings by Rob Miller

The last house
Above Wilpshire by Parsenage Res
Pen and Watercolour
Rob Miller

Blackedge near Darwen
Pan and watercolour
Rob Miller
Blacksnape maybe in the West Pennines, but I think Parsenage Res, which sits just below the last hill before and above Wilpshire is probably a Ribble Valley place...Neither place is significant to me except for the fact that I did some early courting in both some 40 years ago..along with training for my schools cross country team events.( Not at the same time) It was cold and raining then as it is now when I stopped to do the sketches; this week it was sleeting down in fact and my experimentation was not quite as lust full, I was testing Van Gogh v Windsor and Newton watercolours....and pondering on the nature of this West Pennine area that I have decided to paint; the west Pennines name is a recently bestowed title by the conservationist staff of the surrounding municipality's, like the Council in Stoney Bridge Fife, name something and hey tourists appear, the moors now named as such are a much ravaged semi industrialized upland and valleys to the North West of Manchester. Lacking the rugged Hovis nature of Rossendale and the true pennines; the West Pennines by and large are dark purple heather moors which slumber under soft billowing grey skies that walk up full frontal from the Irish sea, with now and then a wait for a break in the rain;  if your lucky the clouds tumble into rows of Cumulus and patches of the sky become blue, whilst on the ground, greyhound, shadows race across the open moors before tumbling through beech copses and down into the valleys villages which blend into woodland and white dot, green pastures;..A lot of the time when the Atlantic weather system becomes bogged down the pattern becomes one thick sheet of grey, to the East a distant line of sulphur, pale yellow and buff appears lining over Manchester and to the West a creamy bright cream blending sometimes with a baby blue shows were the land and its rivers meet the sea at the coast and Blackpool tower

Monday, 21 February 2011

Pendlebury Farm, Barrow Bridge, Bolton. A drawing by Rob Miller

Pendlebury Farm Barrow Bridge Bolton West Pennines
Pen and wash
Rob Miller

Pendlebury Farm Barrow Bridge Boton West Pennines
Pen and wash
Rob Miller
On the spring line of the water table, just below Scout Road there's an old winding road which leads steeply down to Barrow Bridge. The road lined by a traditional hedgerow, a burbling brook and a well planted old beech wood is a most pleasant spot to linger.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Grime Hill and Soot Hill West Pennine Lancashire, mixed media drawings by Rob Miller

Tramway tracks mine shafts and trees
Mixed media on paper
 Pioneer trees of Birch,Willow and Alder
 take root in an environ
 that is no longer grazed

Kate Rusby sings my young man

Birch and willow pioneer trees reclaim the moor
mixed media

The road to the coal  mines near Grime hill and Soothill
mixed media on paper

Speak of the North

By Charlotte Brontë

Speak of the North! A lonely moor
Silent and dark and trackless swells,
The waves of some wild streamlet pour
Hurriedly through its ferny dells.

Profoundly still the twilight air,
Lifeless the landscape; so we deem
Till like a phantom gliding near
A stag bends down to drink the stream

And far away a mountain zone,
A cold, white waste of snow-drifts lies,
And one star, large and soft and lone,
Silently lights the unclouded skies

Today was better, spring touches in the air, an expectation of warmer times to come, but no not warmer just now, this wind from the North, keep the jacket zipped, no snowdrops here either, nor any bleating. white. fluff lambs, jointing about on their stick legs,  like dragonflies without grace, here on Soot Hill above the Methodist Mission it is still winter.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Centre piece Rob Millers Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Leeds and Liverpool Canal
centre piece in the new Millhouse Restuarant at Mellor
New work appearing at the Mill house Hotel and Restaurant at Mellor near Blackburn. The Millhouse I am informed  is the Shireburn Hotel chains first restaurant. I had the pleasure of dining here with my parents  some thirty years ago, so when I was asked to contribute three pieces of art as a centre piece I was delighted. Good food, good wine and good art make for a cultured evening and when great memories are included its got to be a very happy evening.

Moorland farm Helmshore A painting by Rob Miller

Moorland farm above Helmshore Road
MIxed media on canvas
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North woodland drawings by Rob Miller

Chapel with beech
Charcoal on paper

Beech on the road down to Whitewell
Charcoal on paper

Oak, Beech and Ash with farm buildings at Tockholes
Charcoal on paper

Oak and Ash with barn above Waddington
Charcoal on paper

I have been  following the developments of Parliaments privatization of the Heratige woodland in Britain.So as part of a new series of work on the North of England I've started to take a look at woodland and its visual relaltionship to the land, I suppose to see what all the fuss is about. The history of the lands in the north is by and large one of ruthless overuse and abuse by both public and private individuals and companies. Many of the ancient woods I love are in fact protected because they are on small pockets of private land, owned by individuals or by groups some of which have strong environmental preservation interests, loads are accessable by either public footpath or permission if its responsable and sought such as the stydd near Ribchester or high moorland oak copses, others are already owned by the private water companies.

chapel by the trees
mixed media on arches paper

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Moors with houses. A Painting by Rob Miller RSA

Moors with houses (Washings and Mines)
Acrylic on Canvas
Sketchbook notes.....Sitting here all alone, it seems to me that mans labour just turns the top soil of the world, these 18C Mine and Farm buildings would have witnessed great labour by hand and steam, tram lines ran here in fact the hillsides are all crisscrossed with their roads and tracks. The grit stone that made the walls also made the local hillsides, this building material is tending more towards a fine mud stone, easier to cut with the steam driven stone cutters housed here, If I remember my geological map the gritstone beds are thickest hereabouts. The washing on the hillsides were open mines for a material that was used in the production to protect the bakerlite from the heat in the gas lights that lit the industrial towns. Forgotten things that made forgotten things work, mined by forgotten people working in a forgotten place. The history of this world is down in the valley with Lowrey's factory fodder. Up here when Lowrey was painting there was no one left to paint and the place desterted,  the stones a dull deep brown colour, not as red as Loweys Salford brick Mills and its also prone to greening by lichen. No surprise that its lichen that grows faster up the wall than the grazing sheep's can chew their grass. But if there was a race the wind is the fastest thing here.  Its a damp place, despite the fierce drying westerly winds which send flags of silver white cloud shredded across the darker grey sky...I wonder how long it will take before these buildings collapse and disapear and all thats left is stone and grass and lichen, Ted Hughes put it well in Elmet his poem Moors

"Moors are a stage
For the performance of heaven
Any audience is incidental."

Ps Some day soon I'll have to start painting the sheep as well.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Pennine Farm disused

Pennine Farm disused
Acrylic and Mixed Media  on Canvas

Its always with a mixed feeling, a sort off interestingly depressive one I suppose you could call it, when you come across an abandoned farm along with its pastures unused, not an unfamiliar site in the South Pennines.  All the work that's gone into the place over many years? Why is it no longer used?  Bankruptcy, foot and mouth disease, there is a lingering fascination in seeing tack and machinery left rusting away, a living room still full of roting and rusting furniture and a fire half laid maybe ten years ago who knows..