Sunday, February 21, 2016

A la recherche du temps perdu, Boudly version

Since I joined Twitter, mainly for art purposes, I've also fallen into the company of Yorkshire farmers and tourist promoters, mainly in that part of the Yorkshire dales where I lived till I was nearly five. Formative years, particularly in the visual area.

So I see more and more pix of familiar landscapes, and familiar sounds of sheep bleating, and it made me wonder if the cottages where we lived, a terrace of pebbledashed houses, originally for mineworkers, is still there and unruined.  That whole area is now part of a national park, so it's preserved.  

I thought it was called Gribdale Terrace, since the place was Gribdale, but when I tried that out I got a regrettable picture of suburban bliss in Great Ayton, which seems to have bust out and become Big Ayton. So I may have the name wrong.  People there are trying to fix on it for me.  Maybe Dogonart can shed some light?  I was a bit young for knowing my home address at the time.

Anyway, it's not as if I took a bite of Yorkshire pudding and was transported back there, more that it's always in my mental landscape, blotting out many years that came after and were a litany of illness and woes, just as well to blot them out.

Yorkshire Hills, watercolor 1975

The painting I put up here, yes, art and not in the art blog, how about that, is how I remember the view from our back window across the rocks and moors to Rosebery Topping, which I climbed when I was three.  With a good bit of help, I imagine.  And you see that my memory showed it as it was to a little kid, those giant rocks in the foreground probably pretty small in fact.

But that line, those shapes are always there, and crop up all over the place in my art.  The painting is halfway up the stairs, hence the distortion, and under glass so I had to avoid multiple reflections.  But you can get the gist.  And the sound is always that of the skylark miles up in the air, and a few sheep bleating out of sight.

This was also the first painting I ever exhibited, and one of the few times I felt like doing a realistic image.  Those clouds are definitely authentic, so I think my memory held up pretty well.

Anyway, I'm in search of that lost time, just to see a pic, no particular reason.  One of my overriding emotions when I see pictures of that scene in winter, with Twitter farmer friends working out with sheep and pigs, is pity for anyone who has to tolerate that climate. 

Nothing colder and more piercing than the wind on a July day up on the moors...nemmind the winter!  No mountain range between there and Siberia.  Love to see the pix from the comfort of my warm home now, though.

That general area is known to a lot of tv watchers as the location for the Yorkshire vet series, All Creatures Great and Small.

So that's where I am today. Mentally, that is. And remembering what a huge impact childhood experience of landscape has for your life as an artist.  Or any other sort of life, come to think of it.

What's your childhood landscape?



  1. Western Iowa farmland,which was, of course, more beautiful then than now ;-)

  2. what an intriguing memory. I think childhood landscapes color most of our lives, one way or another.

    My landscape was always the hill we lived on. It does seem that most of my life has been spent either at the bottom of a hill, or at the very top of one. I think, too, when you spend most of your life in--or near--one location, it's hard to have a memory of it with any distance in it, for perspective.

    Ah. Of course. When I remember where I grew up, it was the barn that held me. It filled the landscape, it was where you could still smell that strange musky chicken coop smell, almost hear the horses in their stalls, where the kittens were born in the haylofts. In the summer I'd take a book and hitch myself up onto the old rackside truck behind it, and read all afternoon. It was where I practiced speeches for the English class competitions. It had its own memories and life.

    My Dad rigged up a swing inside the door at the far end, from the top beam maybe 40 feet up, and I'd swing myself sick, all afternoon, sometimes, out and up into the sky and then back, high up against the darkness in the barn.

    If I choose to remember anything, that swing, and that barn, would have to be it. Thank you for this.

  3. Oh, Liz, when I first started reading this post I was sure you were going to announce a trip to Yorkshire! Are you thinking about it? At all?

  4. I'm humming the All Creatures theme song, if that helps at all.
    Or I could stop, if THAT would help! ;)

  5. Too funny! No trips in my future, glad to report.

  6. Reading this and pondering your question led me down the path of wondering what exactly my childhood landscape would be. Farmland, definitely. A barn filled with four-legged playmates for an only-child little girl - the sounds of the animals - the pigeons in the loft - the meowing of wanting-to-be-fed kitties - the wondrous birth of a litter of puppies - and my dad, head leaning against a cow, milking her.


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