Wednesday, 27 October 2010

fond remembrance of places

Thinking of Ravilious, I'm reminded of a trip I made to Barra to visit a close friend who was staying in the croft house that was owned by Ravilious' old friend, the designer and artist Peggy Angus. Ravilious didn't visit Barra as far as I'm aware, but made much work at Peggy's other house "Furlongs" on the South Downs.

Eric Ravilious - Furlongs
exterior of Furlongs
I think familiar, well loved places are of great importance to a great many artists, particularly those concerned with landscape, and it seems that Furlongs was one such place for Ravilious.

I'd never been to Barra before. We arrived at Peggy's house at twilight off the surprisingly long ferry journey from Oban, cycling along the single track road just being able to make out the house in the fading light, to find my friend in a magically evocative place lit by candles and the light from a log fire, cooking on a portable gas stove, and surrounded by years of accumulated objects of interest gathered by Peggy. It's a primitive space (Jim and I slept on an extremely smoky platform above the "kitchen" area), and not one for those looking for luxury (indeed, it's not much more luxurious than many a bothy) but it's spartan qualities are made up for with an abundance of character. The house is just as she left it before she died, and is still used by the family for holidays (my friend is close to the family). Unfortunately I didn't take any decent pictures of the house, but I do understand how places become closely linked with the creation of artworks, and have had similar experiences with places I've become intimately acquainted with over the years in Scotland.

There's a house in the West coast that, due to the generosity of an aunt and uncle, I was able to regularly visit throughout the 1990's and early 2000's, and where I made much of my first photographic work. In part, it's joys stemmed from a simple escape from the city. The place itself, with no road access - the easiest way to reach it was by rowing across the loch - a place where time and the pace of life seemed to slow down, where there was no TV, telephone, (and latterly, mobile reception) encouraged a reflectiveness that nourished my creativity. I visited usually around three times per year, most often bringing friends, but also sometimes visited alone. This was probably the only place  where I've gone a whole week without uttering a word to another human and experienced real solitude, bar hearing a voice on the radio.

L Punton, where deer sleep, silver gelatin print, 1996

Back in Barra, we climbed the island's highest hill, the relatively small Heaval, enjoying the view around the island down to Castlebay, a view presumably familiar to Peggy Angus and to those that would have
regularly come to visit.

view from the summit of Heaval, Barra

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Samuel Palmer

Samuel Palmer - Shepherds under a full moon
An odd piece here, by an artist who clearly influenced the likes of Piper and Nash. Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) is someone whom, again, I have probably overlooked over the years. This work, like the piece in the previous post on Nash, is a rather bizarre, and to me, work that quite ahead of it's time.

Paul Nash - landscape of the vernal equinox

Paul Nash, Landscape of the vernal equinox, oil on canvas, 1934
Sir Roy Strong's "Genius of British Art" on channel 4 the other night looking at landscape, reminded me how fine Paul Nash's paintings were. There's a tradition of English pastoralism and abstraction that I find particularly interesting now (and which I overlooked as a young art student) with painters such as John Piper, Eric Ravillious, and especially Nash that I think warrant more of my attention.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

darker than dark

Interesting article here on the darkest man-made material. The material, a thin coating comprised of low-density arrays of loosely vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes, absorbs more than 99.9 percent of light.
full article here:

Friday, 1 October 2010

zodiacal light - the false dawn

Thanks to Jane for sharing this. In thinking about the faint amount of light that allows you to discern form in the darkness in my previous post depicting the night-time profiles of mountains, this phenomena  seems an interesting addition.

"Zodiacal light is a faint, roughly triangular, whitish glow seen in the night sky which appears to extend up from the vicinity of the sun along the ecliptic or zodiac. Caused by sunlight scattered by space dust in the zodiacal cloud, it is so faint that either moonlight or light pollution renders it invisible. The zodiacal light decreases in intensity with distance from the Sun, but on very dark nights it has been observed in a band completely around the ecliptic. In fact, the zodiacal light covers the entire sky, being responsible for 60% of the total skylight on a moonless night. There is also a very faint, but still slightly increased, oval glow directly opposite the Sun which is known as the gegenschein." (Wikipedia)

Zodiakallicht - Etienne Leopold Trouvelot