Into my heart an air that kills,
From yon fair country blows.
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain.
The happy highways that we went
And cannot come again.
There is something deeply melancholy about this poem – about lost childhood, innocence, ‘hiraeth’ -grief over a place that may never really have existed – it is a poem I associate with all those things and my brother’s death in 2012. I have just spent a week on a retreat in the Clun valley – a place I lived for 3 years – sketching and remembering and creating new memories of the land and the spirit of the place. I realise that I don’t have to live in a place to know it and as I get older there are so many places in this country I am intimate and familiar with. I have collected them like precious boxes and they are mine alone. Derbyshire; Edinburgh; Sheffield; Shropshire; Cheshire; Wallasey; Marlborough & Avebury; Harrogate; The Tay Valley in Scotland; Keswick, Easedale & Buttermere; Whitby and Dentdale; Pembrokeshire and The Gower; Tynemouth and Northumbria. Some of these places are familiar, some sacred.
These paintings have an element to them that is new to me – I am surprised by them and not sure just yet if they are complete. So I will look at them and listen to them ‘talk back to me’….and when I have fallen in love with them, yes, finished.
10 x10″ mixed media on cradled board