Archive | November, 2012

Bamburgh and Yeavering

22 Nov

I have just been to Northumberland for 5 days , and , thanks to Letty Ten Harkell’s advice and help, I went to draw at Bamburgh and at Yeavering .

As Graeme Young , from the Bamburgh Research Project  commented in one of his very welcoming emails , these are ‘ two very different landscapes’. The BRP is an independent , non profit , archaeological project investigating Bamburgh Castle  , since 1996 ,they have been working to uncover the castle and its surrounding from prehistory to the present day.

It must be  a very exciting archaeological landscape within which to work.

I choose to draw the village and landscape around Bamburgh, rather than view the castle in isolation, the village lies in the lee of the castle. As I drew, however , It came to me that the village not only supports the castle visually, but maybe has always supported the castle as it does now in 2012 , in an important way.

At Bamburgh the landscape rolls into the sea , into the sky and twists around the buildings. During four days , I thought of the consistency of the changing sky and weather patterns ( if that makes sense! am I right in thinking this ?) since early human habitation , and the possible other consistencies, of small details ,like the grass and migrating birds, which help to make this special place ,feel  historical ,in an extraordinary way .


At Yeavering , the consistency of the weather and grass in the landscape, is all that seems left , in an obvious way ,to describe ‘ what by any standards has to be one of the most impressive archaeological landscapes in England’ Paul Frodsham ( Forgetting Gefrin: Elements of the Past in the Past at Yeavering) , the site had already been occupied for thousands of years before it became an Anglo Saxon palace ( known as Ad Gefrin ) , sited in the Past Perfect web site, as having attracted cremation burials, ritual pits, burial mounds and a stone circle, with Paulinus baptising converts for 36 days in the river Glen.
 How to understand this very different land ?in the end I sat and drew  in the middle of the large field , formerly Ad Gefrin, letting the wind do the drawing for me, hands blown back by the force .
 The small butts of feathery grass constantly moving, in one determined direction, made me reflect of the amount of collective human endeavor, that had taken place in this large and beautiful field.


Ad Gefrin is overlooked and at first glance protected by Yeavering Bell but maybe  in parallel with Bamburgh Castle and its village lying next to it , it also supports it and draws from it , in equal measures.




The Entire City , Max Ernst 1934

5 Nov

The Entire City , Max Ernst 1934


5 Nov


At times, it feels good just to experiment , almost knowing that the result may not be used for anything concrete in the future, but just to ‘ see what happens’ and push ideas in new directions. The pictures above are experiments in my studio.

The masters of this method were the Surrealists, I suppose , starting with Andre Bretton as their leader in 1927, the french writer and poet who gathered artists around him, whose verve and energy were  only curtailed by WW2. This image is entitled :The Entire City, 1934 by Max Ernst,  is oddly archaeological in feeling, a city overgrown, maybe he had a foreboding that cities in Europe would become encased in dark rubble, hardly recognisable.
He was innovative and in this picture experimented with ‘grattage’ , essentially putting canvas or paper over layers of wood then ‘scraping’ paint over it.

Apart from paint, I have been trying to experiment with ideas of scale , this is a drawing of landscape called Two People Talking , drawn on a dolls house chair  ( I was asked by The Art Room , a charity for young people , to do this to raise money). It made me realise how a small , delicately held object becomes a powerful one, as one peers into another world in ones hand . Strangely freeing,  reminiscent of early figurines  , or like the Roman Water Nymph in the Corinium Museum in Gloucestershire, an image stuck to my studio wall (sent by a poet friend).


My last play with scale is a large drawing with no strict edges, breaking out of our normal restrictive A sizes that we all inhabit daily, it is an ongoing drawing which may take months : small thoughts/drawings on landscape drawn next to each other, The reason for this format, was to see if there were any  patterns that were unforeseen, and maybe ..will emerge , but these are early days !


Different ways of making images

1 Nov

Happy birthday to Sarah Mallet !

a birthday cake made by Chris Green , title : Isotope 15 , ingredients : a lot of chocolate..

Sarah is doing a DPhil on food consumption and Isotopes ..Image