Embracing Yorkshire weather

We’ve been up in North Yorkshire for the last few days, and the weather has been wonderful in it’s contrasting forms, from bright sun on a frosty morn, to heavy snow showers.

The 3 images above, although totally different from each other are also related, in that they are all images of fleeting moments in time, and none of them exist anymore. I am also not responsible for any of them, although I do make a guest appearance in one of them.

The picture of shadows on the left, elongated by the low sun and downward slope of the hill was taken by my wife, Jane, on a walk towards the river Nidd in Darley. Can shadows be art? Why not – you have shadow puppets on stage performing, and as so often in Richard Long’s work, the photograph is the only record of the artwork that is left.

The leaves in the snow have been arranged like a roulade. It is in fact a large collapsed snowball that had been made by hands unknown on the Stray in Harrogate. The snowball was rolled under trees and the leaves that were on the ground stuck to the snowball as it was trundled around making this pattern when broken open. Is that an animal looking at me?

Lastly, we have the snow sculptures sat happily on the parapet of a Harrogate railway bridge as dusk settled around us. Hail, the unknown artists!

Somebody who has a fine feel for depicting the weather is Katharine Holmes. She was a near contemporary of mine at Newcastle University, who lives and works in Yorkshire. There was an exhibition of her work at Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery that we went to see whilst we were there. She has an assured style; a handling of oil, and acrylics that gives her paintings a real innate and naturalistic feel whatever the weather, wherever the place. I loved her sketchbooks on display, with the ink drawings occasionally reminding me of some of the work of former Cumbrian artist Percy Kelly.

Drawing on nature

031217 - mushroom1I have made a rule with myself not to put too many photographs on my blog posts, for a good number of reasons:

  1. This is a blog about art, not photography (although I suppose there is an argument that overlaps the two I suppose).
  2. I’m not a great photographer.
  3. The camera I have isn’t really up to much.

031217 - Mushroom2However these images I took have got under my skin a bit, and I feel like sharing them with you. I won’t immediately tell you what they are pictures of – you can let your imagination run riot instead.*

I have found them very mesmerising. How about a picture of some far away nebula that the Hubble telescope is so good at capturing? Tree roots in snow? A close up of some feathered bird? Ice melting into a muddy puddle, or some CGI creation for a fantasy movie? The Surrealists might have fun with it.

031217 - mushroom3My own take on it, especially when you see it in black and white, was a bit of costume design for a play, perhaps Jack the Ripper under an all-concealing cloak, with just his legs sticking out at the bottom. or a badly wounded bird flapping it’s badly torn wings.

My final thought was that it could be one of those old cartographic images. A map of a treasure island, or the depiction of earth with an ocean in the centre and the known land masses arranged around the edge. Accuracy is not a necessary requirement for these early creations of the world. Is the earth flat? Are there sea monsters I see in the ocean?

031217 - mushroom4I did get around to a drawing – sometimes it helps to clarify one’s thinking on a subject. It does seem to have come out as a mixture of an actor on stage dressed up as a wounded bird (or Jack the Ripper – although, I’m not sure there is any pictorial evidence as to what he actually looked like). There is an element of the map in my doodle as well, and I like that. The bird and map could be symbolic of migration, a theme that I might delve into more deeply at some point in the future.

*In case you haven’t worked out what these are photographs of, and I am sure you have (answers on a postcard if you like), then the answer is revealed in this blog post.