Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Own work - Bourne Abbey Church

I've only just finished this a mixed media work depicting the south side of Bourne Abbey in Lincolnshire - watercolour, charcoal, ink, wax pastel, pencil, collage.  Personally I think it a bit overworked in places.  The second image is to give you a rough idea of what it will look liked when mounted.

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Manor House, Aslackby 2014

Since posting this article the owner of the house has kindly consented to allow to illustrate this post with some photos

Back in June, 2012, I finally got to see something that had first seen on lunchtime TV as a child way back in the late 1970s or early 1980s - Aslackby Manor House.  (Aslackby - a Scandinavian placename - is pronounced Azzleby) I was not disappointed, and posted about it here.  Yesterday I returned with the bf.
I have a deep and abiding love and interest in the Medieval 'Hortus Conclusus' and the Italian Renaissance 'Giardino Segreto'.  They are are a recurring themes in my writing, and the gardens are Aslackby are in that tradition.  There is even a 'mount' - viewing mound constructed of earth - in the Tudor and Jacobean manner.
The Manor House is also perhaps a very Lincolnshire thing - hidden, small, remote.  Lincolnshire is, apart from the utter greatness of her cathedral, not a county given much to magnificent architectural gestures. Though perhaps in the Middle Ages she was.  Lincolnshire is a county of understated beauty.  Likewise the pleasures at Aslackby are understated - the textures of old brick and stone, lichen on old apple trees, 'humble' work-a-day architecture, not the controlling hand of the architect, but the lighter touch of the builder and the mason.  The scale is small.  There are, there must be admitted, more successful parts than others, but the whole, the accumulation of so much, is so particularly satisfying and compelling.

The Manor consist of two wings brick and stone - the latter is the oldest part.  The 18th century stone work conceals a much older timber construction.

The Artisan Mannerist wing c 1650 - there is another building in the village with this sort of detail.

Like a Samuel Palmer watercolour

Next door - the Old Vicarage - was also open and was lovely.

I think more and more that we are obliged to create the beautiful.  I don't mean the 'nice' the 'pretty', the 'smart' or the 'fashionable'.  They simply won't do.  The 'smart and the fashionable' are too transient, too caught up in the getting and the spending to be truly fulfilling.  I mean the beautiful.  The transcendent.  It is beyond our obligation; it is, almost, a moral duty to attempt to do so.  And beyond that act of creation we have a duty also to share what we have made, to turn the introverted world, the 'segreto', outward, enabling all to share in the (hopefully) harmonious union of the natural and the man made - the designed and the serendipitous - the beautiful.  They cannot be replacements for God, for there is only God, no other substitute will do.  But nature and beauty do provide a rest and recharging.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Own work - designs from Serlio

Way back in April (where does the time go?) I posted a couple of mixed media drawings of images designs by the Italian Mannerist architect Sebastiano Serlio.  They've actually been finished for quite a while, put away and forgotten about. Until now.  Enjoy.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Vintage Car and Motorcycle Show

Just back from the Car and Motorcycle show in Bourne.  It's one of my favourite local events.  Any event that has old cars and a jazz band can't be bad.  It is has a wonderful mellow atmosphere.  The owners sit around in folding garden chairs enjoying picnic lunches.  And then there are the vehicles.  I don't drive, but if I had to (and I think I may have to) I'd be sore tempted to get something old.  They have such great colours and character - I don't care that they maybe difficult to drive, or keep repaired, or guzzle petrol with a thirst that resembles alcoholism.  Here are some of them that attracted my attention.  I have 'painted' out the registration numbers.  If I've missed any I apologize to the owners.

Morris minor estate.  Lovely

Camp little number this.

A Maxi.  My parents had one of these - a green one - when I was young.

One of these is tempting.  I did suggest to the bf getting one and driving around the British Coast for a year, but he wasn't having that.  Shame.

And then there are these.  Even more tempting. And scarier.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Spalding I: St Mary and St Nicholas

Yesterday I had a look round Spalding, a market town in the Lincolnshire fens.  The sun was out and it was a busy market day, and there was much good architecture to photograph.  Today's blog focuses on the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, appropriately enough for a former port, St Nicholas.  It is a large sprawling, complex structure - a testimony to Medieval prosperity. And it is the kind of church I particularly like. There are inner and outer aisles, transepts and chapels.  In this photograph of the south aisle, transept and St Mary's chapel, and the others, you can see the accumulative, picturesque effect of centuries of building.

From this angle you can see how both the tower and spire lean backwards due to the soft fenland silt beneath the tower.  To help stablise the structure ties have been inserted and the belfry window blocked. 

 The interior is just as picturesque, though the walls could do with being plastered and whitewashed.   It is helped by having some really good furnishings (and one really bad one, but I won't say what).  There's a large display of hatchments - the square pictures of coats of arms that used to be part of English mourning rituals.

Through the screen (Late Victorian or Edwardian, I think) you can see boarded and painted ceiling designed by Stephen Dykes Bower in the 1950s - I was lucky enough to know Dykes Bower.  He lived in a grand house in Essex, near Saffron Walden.  He was Surveyor to Westminster Abbey, and with Geoffrey Allen designed the great Ciborium that surmounts the High Altar in St Paul's, and was the architect of the Cathedral extension at Bury St Edmund's, Suffolk.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Sketch books

Today's post - a small selection from my sketch books.

Sunday, 15 June 2014


I was hoping to bring you some pictures of the few days I spent with the bf earlier this week.  Alas, numpty that I am, I forgot my camera.  In particular I wanted to photograph Little Hall Museum in Lavenham.  It was my first visit and it was a charming place, somehow calm, and I could easily have moved in.  I would seriously recommend a visit. There is a photograph of the exterior elsewhere on this blog.  The garden was really lovely, small and all tucked away; inspiring in the choice of plants.  All together wonderful.
Here instead is my drawing of the rear elevation of our friends' house in Hadleigh.  Small compensation that it is.