Lockdown walking

During the second Lockdown in early 2020 I like many others took to walking in my local countryside. It was a need to get out and to walk my two dogs within the prescribed limit of 5 miles from home. I spent many days walking the lanes above my village of Sandford up on the Henstills. This is a ridge of land which is a typical mid Devon rolling landscape of farmland and I watched the approaching spring and the changes in colour and pattern in the land. There are far reaching views across to Dartmoor to the south west, towards the Blackdown Hills on the border between Devon and Dorset and Exmoor towards the north. The light changes constantly as the clouds race across the sky – every now and then the sun illuminating a small patch of land so that it glows. I was reminded of a poem I came across when I used to live in Chester and frequently visited the village of Aberareon on the end of theLlyn peninsular in North Wales. There is an ancient church there were pilgrims used to stop on the way to Bardsey Island – it is a very sparse magical place, plain whitewashed walls clear glass windows overlooking the sea. I learned about R.S. Thomas who was the vicar there for many years. I bought a book of his poems in the church, and have it still. “The Bright Field’ resonated with my and my experience of being out in the landscape – the ephemeral qualities to be found there and the need to be mindful of the present moment. This has become a mantra for me when I am drawing out in the hills and I try to retain that sense of a magical moment in my semi-abstract interpretations in the painted panels.

The work is acrylic paint on wooden panels – I like the firm response between brush and wood rather than canvas – not sure why but it is a pleasurable and tactile experience applying the pigments, and I also like the fact that the entire object is made by me – the cradling of the wooden panels and the eventual wooden and painted frames

The Bright Field

“I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for a while, and gone my way

and forgotten it. But that was the

pearl of great price, the one field that had

treasure in it. I realise now

that I must give all that I have

to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after

an imagined past. It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness

that seemed as transitory as your youth

once, but is the eternity that awaits you.”

R.S.Thomas

Indian paintings – the gods in the jungle

These paintings were done during the many temple festivals that happen in January and February. staying in Kovalam, Kerala and Mitraniketan School (where I do voluntary work with deprived children making art and having great fun.)

The hot steamy air in the jungle is filled with the sound of women chanting (seems hopelessly out of tune to our ears, and excessively wingeing ) drumming and horn blowing. The noise can go on till 3 or 4 am and then start again at 5.30am. nobody gets much sleep during this time. Then there are the fireworks and processions where all the men are dressed up in various traditional costumes. Offerings are made to the gods – bananas, sweets, flowers and the men wear garlands. There are small temples dotted all over the place and they vie with each other as to who can make the loudest noise with the biggest loudspeakers. It can be almost unbearable but it is so exotic and colourful and such an important social occasion. Cooks move in placing huge stainless pans over open fires to cook curries for hundreds – the hospitality is amazing. Food is served on the traditional disposable plate – banana leaves. The drinks are very sweet squash in small paper cups not quenching thirst at all.

The paintings were made using acrylics and traditional Indian hand made paper so they have a lovely textural quality – the paper coming from the trees of the jungle – giiving the images a connection to their source of material.

These paintings will be on show at Devon Open Studios – 11th – 26th September 2021 at The White Room Creative Space, Commonmarsh Lane, Crediton, EX17 1DN

jungle at nedumangad

The flute player – Krishna

Crows at Mitraniketan

Nedumangad in the banana plantation

Festival time Nedumangad

Festival time

chanting, drumming, fireworks

Garden at Nedumangad

Ganesh in the jungle

Indian sketchbook 2020

Kovalam

February 2020 – staying in a familiar place among friends in Kovalam before the unfamiliar of the pandemic struck. I didn’t know that this was the last carefree time for a long time; but it was very hot and I was quite tired and so I decided to stay put and not rush around as much as usual and spend some time with my sketch book – mainly using Indian charcoal pencils and some pen and ink.

Days were structured with a Feldenkreis workshop early morning and swimming and then dinner later in the day. The middle of the day was for sleeping, reading and drawing – absorbing all the colours, structures and sounds of the jungle surrounding the house.

The drawings turned into paintings – but these were the initial ideas and inspirations for them

“Sunday morning listening to the drumming and singing in the distance – yet another temple festival – a light breeze rattling the palm trees together, tuk tuk hooting in the lane, crows chatting and a loud trilling sound from two coil birds calling each other from the trees. ” – from my sketchbook

http://www.kovalam.com

Rockingham

Pacific ocean rolling in – too dangerous to swim today……

b

Crows on the beach

shiny black feathers beady eyes, scavenging on the tide line

Fishermans hut

Jungle drawings – banana leaves swaying in the afternoon breeze bright green and yellow – almost luminous like stained glass when the sun is strong

In the jungle at Mitraniketan School – crows and snakes rubber trees and black pepper – very rural and hot

Samudra beach between the palm trees and the ocean

On the train to Cochin – 2nd class air conditioned

He signed my drawing – he was very pleased with it !