My artistic efforts are at the moment divided between illustration and linocut printmaking. In the run up to Christmas, and during the holiday, I’ve been very industrious in producing new illustrations of places that inspire me around Britain. These are being added to the shop and my Etsy store as travel posters.
Many of them are of places I have a strong attachment to.
The Royal Albert Hall, for instance, is one of my favourite buildings in London. I had a second job working as a steward there many years ago. For a year, most of my evenings and many weekends were spent at the Hall. It was an musical education to see so many performers and classical concerts for free! Once, a party of some kind was held for the staff in one of the function rooms off the Circle corridor. There was no event on in the auditorium and all the lights there were off. I remember crossing the corridor with a couple of friends and entering the Circle level of the auditorium – which was in utter blackness. In the darkness, you could sense that enormous circular space and feel the atmosphere of more than a hundred years of audiences.
I enjoy country walking, and love the South Downs Way. I decided to show the Seven Sisters from the sea in my poster. I will probably do more of the area – there are lots of fantastic spots in this National Park. I’ve also finally done an illustration of Brighton’s eccentric Royal Pavilion – which has featured many times in my linocuts. With subject matter like that, you can’t really go wrong.
My poster of Constable Country shows part of the Flatford Mill complex in Suffolk. Living in London, I ultimately ended up in the cheapest part of it (ie. the east) and my walking trips out to Thames-side spots like Marlow, Henley and Richmond were replaced by explorations of Essex. If you get the train to Manningtree, a handy footpath takes you into Suffolk and the willowy Stour valley landscape painted by John Constable.
Flatford Mill features in several of his paintings, and I have sketched it several times. There is a handy tearoom there, too – though it’s always a shock to arrive after a pleasant and peaceful country walk into the middle of nowhere to discover that hordes of car drivers have got to the cafe first and nabbed all the seats.
I know Bristol reasonably well, having grown up in the nearby town of Weston-super-Mare. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is rightly regarded as one of Bristol’s most attractive features. It links the appealing and wealthy suburb of Clifton with Leigh Woods on the other side. By the way, talking of classy Clifton, there was once a cliff railway up to Clifton from the docks area – but it wasn’t a success due to opposition from Clifton’s well-heeled residents – who really did not want riff-raff from lower Bristol and the docks having easy access to their pleasant neighbourhood.
I’ve been to Edinburgh several times – including twice to the Fringe Festival. I think it is a fantastic city – with beautiful architecture and lots to see. It also has a great big hill to walk up if you want to get away from it all for an hour or two. I visited the Botanic Gardens last time I was there – definitely recommended. And the castle is stunning – still dominating the city, unlike the poor Tower of London which is surrounded now by glass towers twenty times its height.
I had a holiday in the Brecon Beacons with a friend quite a few years ago. Though they are properly, impressively high (actual mountains, not hills) they are accessible to the average walker. Brecon is a nice little town and made a great base.