Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Longtown Valley

We live on the edge of a valley, each night the theatre unfolds its play of light as the shadows lengthen, the light on our side of the valley is fluorescent deep yellow, the suns warmth highlighted in tall grass heads against the dark shadow of deep greens and further blues of the black mountain beyond.

The mouth of the Olchon Valley is right of stage with its depths in light blues. A field of wrestles sheep make a racket and lighten up the left hand side with noise that is echoed occasionally with geese centre stage. Our sheep usually make near munching noises but tonight they are further down the field. Nigel has been bringing the tractor round to collect the willow trunks so their top pitch is unsettled.

At 5 to 9 the deep yellow light of the evening has gone under heavy blue black clouds that cuddle hay bluff and the drama subsides. My damp trying to get up the hill puffing tea shirt clings coldly now and its time to go in. But the peewit and the sheep calling keep me out on the side of this cup of magic. 

The valley has a lump among its middle that we walk over to get to the shop, each side with its own stream, the River Monnow and Escely Brook, leads us down to the string of white houses that huddle sometimes two deep against the road. There we chatter in the shop over bread and cake buying and then to the pub for Butty Bach. 

The borders have many beautiful valleys but there is a distance and a nearness to the drama in this one, we have walked most of it, all fields are recognisable, all the different lumps traversed or mused on as the light changed through the day. Soon the bats will be replacing the swallows and swifts and soon we will be gone from here.

Something always to remember is to leave time for space. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Visual receptors

Like a spoilt brat that does not want to go the way she is told I see a tree on the way back from the foundry and veer off. .




I am so unbelievably stressed and busy but the day is too good to miss and I have to walk Molly anyway so I drive down a road I have not been before just to see where it ends up. A path with no predicted end or puporse. i just drive and drive.

I end up at the arboretum and am so stressed and wound up about taking 1/2 hour off that I walk to the pay desk with no money and then think no I won't go in, yes I will, then get in a complete spin nd go back to the car to get money and go in anyway, rushing towards the trees. And then nature drifts over me like mist and seeps in.

























Time and colour

Thursday night - Byard Art solo show private view in Cambridge and the fantastic Pint Shop, Friday night - negotiate tall corridors of dark container streets to the red lit gin bar serving buckets of lethal ice in Barcelona. Seven days - a sociable time with girlfriends, spent talking, my head filled with chat and restaurants and drinking and tapas and leisure and hangovers and late nights and fireworks, the thrill of being back that made me smile without realising, swimming in the sea, the towns freedom and the weird familiarity of it, then a promise of returning to sobriety brought thursday’s welcome home beers with Graham and then friday’s private view and roof top terrace of really many too many caves till really very too close to dawn. 

All this has left me blank, open, like a clean fresh page.

I left as a vessel of anxiety and return empty.

As a workaholic I don’t need these times, they are interrupting, take too long to get over, disrupt the flow. Other peoples talk fills the precious space in your brain you need for work. Work is everything so you bare the loneliness because it enables you to think, to work. 

But time with friends unravels you. 

The twisted knot of excitement caused by solo shows, orders, demands and deadlines.  It dissipates. I am now blank but the blankness enables the important things to come in clean and clear. Only now in the quite of these hills I can see it was a good thing. The valley is still, the sun is warm for nearly october, only the occasional clatter of leaves dropping through trees gives a hint of the time of year. Prompted by an article about Howard Hodgkin I think of paint and colour. Like a conversation that has, through the years, been getting louder, so painting is the thing that bounces in first to the flat open space of a rested mind.  

I yearn for painting its like somethings lost. I can not be so dramatic to say it can equal the pain of childlessness but I have no other context in which to put it. I don’t think it can be pain I feel when I look at colour but it feels similar. 

I sit in the hills and stare at the magic of the olchon valley to my right, a blue light rests in its belly. In front, the Black Hill creates our valley so I feel at the edge of a basin, the light moves across this space so drastically that it could be a different painting every five minutes. All I can do is sit and stare and yearn. When I turn my eyes to write I can still see the valley as the birds map out the contours by their chatter. Sheep and geese are white dots in the green, ridiculously I envy them as all they will know is this valley. I yearn because we will have to leave here before too long and I yearn because I don’t know what to do with all that beauty. I photograph it endlessly but it is not enough, the photographs are just a cruel tease to what could be.

Its like painting is in the other room, at the moment the door is half agar and there is so much fantastic stuff in this room that I can’t get through to the other. 

This beauty, this colour, this thought process has left me exposed and when a butterfly lands on the table open on the Hodgkins article I see it as a sign or cruel but beautiful taunt.  It faces me, rests a moment, wings open, reds, oranges and browns and water floods over my vision, its too much. In far vision red kite is circling looking for supper.


As an artist you need strength. As an artist you need the strength to ignore, close the door on the business to be able to work. But can you close the door on yourself, can I give myself that chance, that 3 months or so just to paint, to not think about anything else, to run around the studio free in colour, the power of colour is frightening. The language of sculpture developed over 20 years is reassuring, it still excits me but its just the practicalities that are so mind numbingly time sapping. Painting is creative all the time, no repetition, no compromise.

But today I only have today and I write and I think about what can be and as the sun gets lower I take photographs in the vain hope, in the way we make jam, that in mid winter i can open up the jar to the strong taste of late summer.



Sunday, 24 August 2014

A reluctant tenant ...

Want less, do more.

The wind tickles the trees now, the energy in the wind has gone and I sit quiet within ancient walls. The valley is sunday silent and I wonder why I always want to complicate things. The problem lies in ambition. The problem lies in wanting to settle, in wanting permanence.

I am just a visitor to this place of oak structures, of piles of stones pulled by gravity, of secret still ponds wrapped by white flowers in lowlands and wild winds roaring through trees in uplands. Temporary is my time in the colours of spring. Maybe I will see only one low summer's stream trickle over red rocks

I have difficulty living in the present without a care for the future. Maybe I am more of a homemaker than a nomad, I want to be cool and appreciate our time here and I tell myself constantly that the temporary nature of a tenancy can be a freedom not an anxiety. Yes I love it so much, and everyday I am here it gets stronger and deeper, something of the ancient seems to seep in from the structures and the land but to try and own this would mean chaos and pressure and distraction, not freedom.
And I am a sculptor.

And we have this place until the spring and maybe longer and after that we may find something else. We may even find something less ambitious to buy and make our own.  Just appreciate time, space and nature for what it is ...it doesn't have to be owned, it doesn't have to be ‘a project’, it doesn't have to be 'a painting'  you can just look and love. 

And then go home and make sculpture.

Monday, 23 June 2014