For the last week or so I’ve been working on a new linocut of the boatyard area of Uphill in Somerset.
The scene at Uphill
My original hometown is Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. At the far end of the town is the village of Uphill. It is on the coast and has now really been swallowed up by the town, but it retains a distinctive village feel. At this point of the beach the river Axe cuts across the sand, blocking pedestrian access along the coast – so if you walk along the beach from Weston in this direction, this is the point where you have to turn back.
I have always been rather fascinated by Weston beach – the wide, wide sand and then the primeval mud. The area has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world. The white-topped waves are sometimes so distant they can barely be seen and it looks as if you could walk right across to Wales.
At Uphill, there are a good many boats, many of them yachts, pulled up on the banks of the Axe. They sit beneath the steep hill after which Uphill is presumably named, and an old partially ruined church. Beyond, across a stretch of sea, is the limestone promontory of Brean Down.
The plan for the linocut
My plan is to do a couple of linocuts of this area – one looking towards the church on its hill, and another looking out towards the sea and Brean Down.
Here is my working sketch for the first linocut, which will use four blocks (ie. I can have four colours).
Clearly I need a block for the darks, a block for the sky (probably blue because that can also help with creating green), a block for either green or yellow, and Another Colour for the banks of the Axe.
Uphill has plenty of other possibilities that I am itching to do for linocuts after these two. There is an amazing eccentric mansion called Uphill Castle, there are sand-yachts, and there is another church which is very fine and framed by tall and magnificent old trees.
The River Axe
I’m also intrigued and inspired by the River Axe.
Uphill marks the river estuary, with gloopy mud and glistening tidal water. The river first appears at the base of the Mendip hills not far from the tiny city of Wells. It is born as a subterranean river, rising up from underground after travelling through the cave systems of Wookey Hole.
The river then runs through the hamlet of Wookey Hole, and then through St Cuthbert’s Mill – where the fabulous Somerset printmaking paper is made! Then on through the village of Wookey.
Soon after this, the river divides in two to run through different parts of the Somerset Levels. It then becomes one again to continue its journey through the flat lands around Wedmore, passes through the settlement of Lower Weare and on to the south of Loxton.