This photo was taken in the same location as the Man on a Bike posted on 5 March. Again the point of interest is a solitary figure in a vast open space. In this case the man is an angler who seems to have finished for the day. Whether or not he has caught any fish probably matters very little. No doubt he feels refreshed by the smell of sea air, the soothing rhythm of the waves, and the temporary escape from the presence of others and the demands of everyday life.
Monthly Archives: March 2013
As the snow retreated from the sheep field next to my garden, the birds quickly returned to forage for food.
The starlings came in great numbers – scores at a time
– and pecked away voraciously.
The fieldfares withdrew from the melee of such greedy guzzling.
The redwing felt left out.
The thrush looked on with disdain.
The lone blackbird peered from a safe distance, beyond the fence.
The colourful goldfinch found his own quiet patch on the farm track, seemingly oblivious to the goings on.
Winter is often portrayed in pictures displaying mid-distance or panoramic features – fields, trees, buildings coated in snow. But as I looked out through the kitchen window yesterday morning, my attention was drawn to the many ‘micro-landscapes’ – mini winter scenes – formed by the thawing snow, and all just a few feet away.
I’ve presented a small but varied selection below. Each of the areas photographed was less than 1 metre square.
Click the photo to enlarge.
In the first, the ice crystals glisten in the sunlight like jewels in a tiara
Sometimes there is a suggestion of frozen movement
The third presents a scene of contrasting textures and colours.
Except for the Nag’s Head, included in yesterday’s selection, most of these rocks seem to lack any local name by way of identification. Indeed, only two of the pictures have appeared in any ‘gallery of images’ or literature about St Agnes that I have seen. I find this very surprising.
In the absence of any acknowledged alternative, I have always referred to the first picture as the ‘Mysterious Feline’. The second is a Troll-like fellow or, perhaps, a puppet. In the third, I see a lizard (or similar creature) emerging in search of food or sensing danger. The fourth is clearly a prehistoric tortoise!
Several months ago, I wrote about the Isles of Scilly, located almost 30 miles off the south west tip of Cornwall:
‘In addition to their natural beauty and evidence of earlier cultures – such as the standing stone on Gugh and various cysts and burial chambers from the Bronze Age – the Isles have an air of mystery about them. Especially St Agnes. Granite outcrops suggest strange creatures from a fantasy or mythological world – giant lizards, serpents, turtles, birds of prey ……… You are never alone on St Agnes!’
I am returning to the topic. I have since remastered the original photos in an attempt to capture a little more of the magic and mystery of the rocks. I intend to post the results today and in my next post. All of the pictures are from St Agnes. The background context to the images can be found at The Isles of Scilly and The Two Faces of St Agnes.
The first image was not actually used previously. It is a natural outcrop, known locally as the Nag’s Head, and seems to have been used as a standing stone in the distant past. In my wife’s novel, Narwhal, it is the focal point for a pagan ritualistic dance.
It seems appropriate that the garden allotments pictured here lie in the shadow of an Anglo-Saxon church dating from the seventh century. It was during Saxon times that the parcelling of land began.
Of course, over the centuries there were many changes and the present system has its roots in the nineteenth century when land was given to the labouring poor. Provision was gradually extended and at the end of World War I land was made available for all. A statutory obligation was placed on Local Authorities to provide allotments wherever need arose.
The demand has inevitably been greatest in war years and in times of economic difficulty. In 1944, encouraged by the Government’s Dig for Victory campaign, the number of allotments was estimated to be 1.75 million. By 1970 the number had fallen to 532,000, partly because of the pressure to find land for building, partly due to the advent of supermarkets, and partly to other social changes.
In recent years there has been a revival of interest fuelled not only by economic problems but also by a growing demand for fresh food. Virtually all Local Authorities report a sizeable waiting list for available plots.
The site pictured has approximately 100 plots, most of which are in an advanced stage of clearing and preparation for the new season.
A feature of allotment sites is the camaraderie and community spirit. For some the ‘shed’ is more than just a place where tools are kept.
Several times recently, half promises of an early Spring have been dashed by the fickle UK climate. For example, after a comparatively mild week, we were greeted yesterday morning with sustained heavy snow showers. On the plus side, the coating of snow on the trees emphasised the patterns and shapes quite beautifully.
(Click the image to enlarge)
In the flower borders, the early Spring flowers struggled valiantly in their search for air and light as the snow deepened.
The pictures taken in the Hepworth Garden were of complete sculptures. But it was Hepworth’s wish that the viewer should get close to the work, walk around it, approach it from different angles, explore the textures and contours within contours. Recall her words: ‘Everything I make is to touch.’
The images below are details from larger sculptures. They explore texture, colour and line. Indeed, several of these pictures create superb, free-standing abstract compositions in their own right.
The conglomeration of fishing paraphernalia inside a disused boat shed would not normally leap to mind as a photographic subject. But, for me, this scene was irresistible. Not only did it evoke imaginings of past times, the colours, lines, shapes, rhythms and natural relationships combined to create an effective abstract composition.
(Click the photo to enlarge)
We will remember 5 March. The sun shone brightly throughout the day and the temperature rocketed to a giddy 15°C. Had Spring sprung? Had the new season begun a little prematurely? Nature seemed to think so.
In the field across the lane the first lambs of the year appeared.
Some basked lazily in the sunshine.
Another shared a meal with two friends.
In the garden there seemed to be an explosion of colour.
But, as I write, it is now 6 March. Today is cold and dull with rain threatening. The crocuses have refused to open. Normal service has been resumed!
Was that it? Was that Spring?
Continuing from two days ago, below I am offering a further selection from the Hepworth Garden. I would stress that these two selections provide only a taster of a very special experience.
Two Forms (Divided Circle)
Torso II (Torcello)
Stone Sculpture (Fugue II)
Square Forms (Two Sequencies)
Hollow Form with Inner Form
I toyed with different titles – ‘Stranger on the shore’, ‘Lone rider’ etc – and wrestled whether to use colour or black and white. Eventually I settled on the image below which, I think, expresses what I wanted to capture – a solitary figure in a vast expanse of sea and sand: the insignificance of man.
(Click to enlarge)
Barbara Hepworth (1903-75) was an internationally renowned sculptor whose finest work was produced in the years between the end of World War II and her death in 1975.
She was a prolific artist whose work can be seen in public places throughout the UK as well as in galleries and museums. The recently opened Hepworth Museum in Wakefield (2011) houses 44 full size model prototypes in plaster and aluminium, made in preparation for the works in bronze executed from the mid-1950’s to the end of her career.
Works appear in public places and collections across the world, from the US and Canada, through Europe, to China and Japan in the Far East.
Hepworth was an abstract artist who worked in a variety of materials – wood, stone, bronze and marble. She produced flowing, rhythmic sculptures that created impressions of objects rather than simple portraits of the objects themselves. She was drawn to smooth natural shapes rather than angular geometric blocks, although there are exceptions. She focused a good deal on the impact of light (and changing light) on her work. The characteristic pierced holes in her sculptures allow the light in and create a certain airiness a solid block would lack.
Three quotations from Hepworth will, I think, help an appreciation of her work:
‘I rarely draw what I see, I draw what I feel’. This is equally true of the sculptures.
‘Everything I make is to touch.’ This seems to me to be so important with sculpture. And the joy of the Hepworth Garden is the access to the works – the opportunity to touch.
‘I like the story to be implicit in the work and you make your own sense of it.’ I feel that the titles are often not helpful in terms of conveying what the sculptor had in mind. Does that matter? Sometimes I feel it would help!
Ascending Form (Gloria)
( This is a much extended version of a blog first posted in 2011)
Next to the Tate in St Ives is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden. The museum is housed in the Trewyn Studio where Hepworth lived and worked from 1949 until her tragic death in a fire in 1975. The museum contains a range of small sculptures unsuitable for outdoor display, and an interesting and valuable collection of archive materials.
The garden was designed by Hepworth with the assistance of her composer friend Priaulx Rainier, an enthusiastic gardener. Plants, shrubs and trees were chosen for their textural and sculptural qualities. A gravel path links the exhibits and at the same time affords glimpses of other sculptures through the foliage.
The acquisition of Trewyn Studio was important to Hepworth. It enabled her to work outdoors and led to the creation of works on a more monumental scale. Several of the bronzes here benefit from the space available.
Adjacent to the studio are a workshop and summer house which remain largely as Hepworth left them. Outside are uncarved blocks of stone.
It is not a large garden but the sculptor’s presence is inescapable. There is a vibrancy that links us through the works: they are tangible and large, not pictures on a page. There is a feeling of naturalness about the workshop – as if the sculptor has just popped out for a cup of tea. The garden is an oasis of quietude and is respected as such by the many visitors.
Barbara Hepworth was one of the few women artists to achieve international prominence. Here, in this garden, we can understand why.
The first three photos are selected views of the garden. The fourth shows the interior of Hepworth’s workshop.
The next two posts will comprise photos of Hepworth’s sculptures in the garden.
See also Around the Barbara Hepworth Garden
Note. There is a good deal of information on the internet about both the Tate and the Museum. Two particularly interesting sites for Hepworth are a BBC Monitor programme made with the sculptor in 1961 atwww.bbc.co.uk/archive/sculptors/12804.shtml and a tour of the garden on an educational video www.kids.tate.org.uk/games/barbaras_garden