I’ve been thinking about the importance of landscape recently, how surroundings affect mood, motivation and even character.So, while my latest creations rest, half finished , on the table next to me I thought I’d share a personal love story about the North York Moors. It may seem strange to those of you who know me as someone who lives in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sheep and solitude, but I actually spent the first 14 years of my life in London. Visits to Grandparents in “The North Riding” were idyllic and now seem tinted with that golden, over exposed hue of 1970’s photographs- Flying box kits on the moor, building dams in the River Esk, gritty picnics on Sandsend beach and jumping out of the car to drink icy water from a moorland spring and to breath in the sharp brackeny air at Goathland after a long , cramped, car journey from the South.
So the landscape kind of seeps into your bones and now, much as I love my trips to the city ,and proudly claim to be a Londoner, North Yorkshire has become a place of deep roots and family history, in the same way as a tree grows angled by the prevailing wind I am now more more shaped by the North than the South!
This year is the 60th anniversary of the North York Moors National Park and I’m getting quite excited by a new exhibition this Summer that will include works by 5 artists including Joe Cornish, William Tillyer and Len Tabner whose work is all connected by a love of the North York Moors. Obviously ,for me, the work of William Tillyer has almost become my default way of seeing the moors around me, the atmospheric skies in particular, and is one reason why I never attempt to paint landscape!
The exhibition will include a re-issue of “The Furnished Landscape” , a series of photographs which now document a lost way of life. Who can remember milk stands at the end of each farm lane? Some things don’t change though, the honey scented air when the heather is purple in August, the lichen covered drystone walls,wild garlic and bluebells in the woods in spring, curlews calling mournfully while the lapwings threaten to dive bomb anyone who comes too close to their nest.
Have I tempted you to visit this beautiful part of England? If you came between August 8th and September 16th you could also visit the Dutch House, where I will be having a little exhibition! And better still, my lovely friend Sam runs a fabulous website which gives you just about all the information you might need to plan your escape to the North in your very own North Yorkshire cottage!
So, it’s time to return to the sewing and the sketchbook after losing myself in a little journey around Gods Own Country. After singing its praises so much I think I’d better get my boots “Dubbined” and go for a bit of fresh air tomorrow!