A Sense of Place

I am always drawn to artists & writers who have a strong sense of place. I feel deeply connected to the landscape in which I live; there is something satisfying about knowing that it will outlast me. It’s linked with memory – I walk paths that I’ve walked for twenty years…that my father walked….that I walked with much-loved dogs who I can almost see now, slipping through the undergrowth, just a flick of a tail in the corner of my eye. If only we could skip at will through time we could visit our past or future selves, in exactly that place. There’s something so fascinating to me about standing on a spot where I know I stood in the past, about returning to it over and over.

One of my favourite artists is Paul Nash. He returned to certain places, finding them specially resonant; and his writing in his autobiography, ‘Outline’ is illuminating, on his first experience of this feeling:

It was undoubtedly the first place which expressed for me something more than its natural features seemed to contain, something which the ancients spoke of as genius loci – the spirit of a place

Wittenham Clumps - Paul NashI love this drawing – of a place called ‘Wittenham Clumps’; he went on drawing this place all his life. Of course he’s very well known as a war artist – but his war art still focussed on landscape rather than people, expressing the destructive effects of war on nature – the blasted trees in ‘Wire’ seem trapped and bound by the coils of wire and lines of railing.

Wire - Paul Nash

The place I live in – the wild Northumbrian landscape, informs and inspires my work. I love its bleakness, the ragged shapes of rooks and crows that punctuate the wide skies; the tangled hedgerows and bursts of colour – gorse yellow and purple heather. The red of rowan berries in the Autumn; the rare blue skies and summer flowers.

Hedgerows - NorthumberlandHedgerow sketch

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