Valley Of Lights

At the beginning of December a lovely uplifting event - The Valley of Lights Parade - lit up the streets of Hebden Bridge. A celebration of the magic of light in the dark months and an affirmation of the spirit of our little town.

What you can't tell from these pictures is how very cold it was, which made it an effort to take photos as I just wanted to keep snuggled up with my hands in my pockets. I'm pleased with the results though - colourful and a bit surreal especially the second to last one with the building lanterns parked outside the hotel. And the moon and some stars looked on...

Janis Goodman - one printmaker and a boat

Last Saturday my friend and printmaker Janis Goodman who is based in Leeds held an exhibition in an unusual venue - a beautiful converted coal barge moored on the Rochdale canal in Hebden Bridge.

I felt fairly intrepid as I slithered along the frozen tow path and over the canal on a tiny bridge but could not have been made more welcome by Janis and Marion who has made her home in the barge for the past 2 years.

Wasn't sure which to drool over most, Janis's lovely etchings or Marion's gorgeous, warm, light filled barge. I know a lot of Janis's work, so its excellence was only to be expected but I had no idea a converted industrial boat could be that charming and bright.  For a brief moment I had a wild imagining of what it would be like to have it as my studio.

Thank you Janis, Marion and Roger who baked the delicious cheese straws and mulled the wine. My camera steamed up in the warmth so the photos are slightly dreamy. To see Janis's prints in all their glory visit her website - there's a link to it in the column on the right.

December Open Studios 2012 and my 150th Post

My studio group held our annual December Open Studios the other weekend.  I'm not wearing the scarf for religious reasons but to keep my brain warm as it was extremely cold weather and we only have portable heaters to try and warm a giant high-ceilinged space.

I would normally be wearing a huge fleece jacket in the studio but felt the need to look human whilst meeting the public.

I met loads of nice people, had some great conversations and sold quite a lot of my work as well as making a few gallons of the famous Brooklyn Studios mulled cider.

This is the 150th post on Tumbling Hills, I never imagined it would go on for so long. There are many times when I wonder why I do it and think about stopping but here I still am for the time being...

Perry Dip Pens

I love the packaging of these beautiful dip pen nibs I found at my parents house earlier this year.

And how lucky to find nearly a whole box full of shiny gold perfection.  I was especially pleased to note that Perry & Co. had a manufacturing base in Birmingham, my city of birth.  

There is an article about Perry pens on Wikipedia and another about the Birmingham pen trade which was for many years a world centre for steel pen and nib manufacture. As a lover of dip pens I feel sad that I wasn't aware of this previously - a whole fascinating industry that's been and gone largely, like so much else in Brum.

I've always liked drawing with a dip pen - the nib is so much more versatile and responsive than any kind of modern pen I've used, and more reliable and long lasting than a quill or reed pen though they are good to draw with too.  The little sketch book below was drawn entirely with a dip pen, recording impressions of a walk along the Vilaine estuary from Le Moustoir to Penlan.

You win some you lose some

The Watershed Landscape Project I was a resident artist for last year narrowly missed out on winning the National Lottery Award for best environment project. However, Watershed has won the 2012 UK Landscape Award and will now be submitted to the Council of Europe's European Landscape Award for 2013.

Good to know that our lovely uplands in the South Pennines are getting the credit they are due and proud to have been part of such a great project. For more info follow this link to the Watershed Landscape website where incidentally some of my woodcut images of reservoir water, cotton grass and moorland habitats are subtly displayed behind the main text and along the top banner.

Lots of exhibitions

I have a range of different works for sale at local and regional galleries including Terraces and Trees woodcuts at the Calder Gallery in Hebden Bridge. Its the first time I've shown at The Calder Gallery and I'm excited to be sharing wall space with printmakers I know and admire like Hannah Lawson and June Russell.

I have Artist Books at The Water Street Gallery in Todmorden, Bird woodcuts at The Platform Gallery in Clitheroe and Leeds Craft Centre And Design Gallery, Tree paintings at Earth Spirit in Hebden Bridge and Landscape woodcuts at Spirals also in Hebden Bridge. 

Local Shacks in Hebden Bridge

I love the Wikipedia definition  - "A shack is a type of small house , usually in a state of disrepair."

Here are some local shacks I've been working on recently.  I've been experimenting with a more stripped down, linear style of drawing.

You could call them sheds, huts or shanties as there are a lot of different names to describe the same kind of thing, but just now I like the word shack, even though these local buildings are not really what you could call a 'small house'.  

I expect there are subtle differences within the taxonomy of dilapidated buildings - what makes a shed not a hut, for example. I'm too tired to think about this tonight as I've spent all weekend and the previous week completely rebuilding and reorganising my studio space. What was a messy shack-like area is now more of a super organised roofless shed within the larger studio space. 

Scammonden Reservoir

Following the visit to Ringstone reservoir the other week we continued on to Scammonden. Never having walked there, I had always thought of this reservoir as being rather a grim place as the M62 runs all along the dam and there is a continuous flow of giant lorries grinding past.

Actually, once you get down to the far reaches of the res, the motorway disappears completely behind the curve of the hill and it becomes peaceful and very attractive. On the day I visited the air seemed crystalline with every detail sharply illuminated and wonderful contrasts between jewel bright leaves, silken water, feathery twigs and deep shade.

Ringstone Reservoir - Indigo and Ultramarine

On Monday I made an addition to my 'collection' of reservoir valve towers.  This one is at Ringstone Reservoir, on Ringstone Edge Moor above Barkisland. Its rotund and flask like shape made me think of the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia although really there's not that much resemblance.

The brilliant wintery sunshine in an almost clear November sky made for mesmerising blue water lapping round this semi submerged small tree.

I wondered about the lovely name Ringstone before noticing a nearby cairn circle marked on the map and a distinct unploughed green circle within the brown furrows of the corresponding field beyond the water.

I'd have liked to explore the circle but there didn't seem to be any access as two sides of the reservoir are closed off to provide undisturbed overwintering for birds such as Golden Plover and Lapwings like these flying over the remains of the ring.

Lapwings are wonderful birds and this week I've been lucky enough to see quite large flocks of them here in the South Pennines over Ringstone and at Pitsford Res in Northamptonshire.

Water Street Gallery

I have some Artist's Books and paper sculptures on show at this lovely Gallery in Todmorden.
Tonight's preview was really enjoyable and a feast for the eyes.  So many new and interesting works, presented beautifully so no sense of crowding even though there is a lot of work in a fairly intimate space. Highly recommended, the exhibition continues until 13th January.

Autumnal light in London

A brief trip to London where softly glowing copper and pale violet hues were the dominant colour theme.

The Royal Albert Hall looking splendid as dusk falls.

The Tulip Stairs at Queens House, Greenwich.

Apollo 10 Command Module at the Science Museum.

The Greenwich Foot Tunnel crossing all the way underneath the Thames.

London Wildlife October 2012

Silver and gold Kestrel? at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Wooden Dog at the Maritime Museum.

Bird Skulls

Earlier in the year I set myself the goal of finishing projects that had been in progress for quite a while.

I always have a lot of completely different work all going on at the same time.  Sometimes projects come to a halt because I need time to investigate alternative materials, solve problems or just reflect.
Sometimes I have to break off to do urgent commissions or get specific work ready for an exhibition.

This does mean my tiny studio space fills up with precariously balanced piles of work in progress which occasionally get damaged when they all fall down. Plus essential items seem to disappear so I spend a lot of time just looking for stuff, which is annoying and usually leads to even more chaos.

Gradually I'm whittling down the heaps and one thing I have managed to sort out recently is the bird skull paper sculptures.  Since making the originals in February (for the 28 Drawings Later Project) a lot of people have asked if they could buy a copy. And now they can because I am producing archival reproductions via digital printing followed by hand cutting and assembly.

The supporting structure is lovely matte black 300 gsm Canford card and the skulls are on Epson watercolour paper. Dimensions of the black are approximately height 23 cm x width 20 cm, the duck skull 18 cm long and the Godwit 19.5 cm.  The printing uses Epson Ultrachrome pigment inks for sharp detail and rich blacks.

Nothing is ever really finished however and the plan is to create a series. I need to be able to handle  actual skulls to make the drawings properly and I'm hoping to arrange something with my local museum soon.