Farmyards, Rain, River Swimming


My route to our local train station is at present a trudge through some high grade muck, so wellies are the only answer on these damp days. If the current deluge continues I think waders may be in order. Puts me in mind of muddy farmyards.  Speaking of which,

‘Quitting time’ by Seamus Heaney


The hosed-down chamfered concrete pleases him
He’ll wait a while before he kills the light
On the cleaned-up yard, its pails and farrowing crate,
And the cast-iron pump immobile as a herm
Upstanding elsewhere, in another time
More and more this last look at the wet
Shine of the place is what means most to him—
And to repeat the phrase “My head is light,”
Because it often is as he reaches back
And switches off, a home-based man at home
In the end with little. Except this same
Night after nightness, redding up the work,
The song of a tubular–steel gate in the dark
As he pulls it to and starts his uphill work.


Amary Ilis, gauche on paper 52 x 55 cm. 74 x 74 cm. incl. frame


Tony Birks said of Ben Hartley, ‘He was a colourist, an abstract painter, and a superb draughtsman. His paintings describe the human condition with humour and compassion. His life’s work comprises more than a thousand paintings and three hundred sketchbooks filled with drawings and words. His paintings show his appreciation and understanding of nature; with a countryman’s eye he recreates birds, butterflies, insects, dogs cats, farm animals and the people who live with them and have to grapple with life’s problems.’

The current weather is a suitable time of year for our inaugural 2024 show, featuring hardy Yorkshireman and Dartmoor-based painter Stewart Edmondson.  Stewart has been swimming in the river Dart over the winter, the thought of which alone makes me lose a degree in body temperature. This sepia drawing sees the Dart in tranquil form…


Sepia Dart, Acrylic on Paper 86 x 87 cm. sold


Extract from Wiliiam Wordsworth ‘ Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798’

‘Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
‘Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit’s cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.’


There are wilder scenes from the Cornish coast, befitting of recent conditions:

With the Wind and the Wild, Acrylic on Paper 91 x 103 cm. Sold


With apologies for another lengthy extract, the next verse of the same Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’ poem seems so appropriate to Stewart’s work and process..

‘These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.’


And, when it comes to ‘seeing into the life of things’, Sculptor Nichola Theakston is so very accomplished at sculpting archetypes of the animals she studies. The nonchalant, insouciance of this langur…

Sacred Langur 2 (Detail 2), Bronze, Ed. of 15, 27 x 16 x 19 cm. £3,400


And finally….

‘For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid’ by William Stafford

There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot—air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That’s the world, and we all live there.
All the works featured above are now, or soon will be, on display in the gallery.  Please click on images to go to individual artists’ webpages.
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