Thank you to Purton (on Severn!) for a wonderful weekend

When friends Bronny & Peter came to my private view in The George it was lovely to see them, having known them for probably thirty years, when we lived in Thornbury. Since leaving there we have all become water-dwellers, they in the lovely village of Purton, on the canal near the Severn, and me in Newnham. We share a passion for our hometowns.

Their invitation to take my drawings to the other side was irresistible, this weekend the outcome was two days of showing, one in their beautiful home, the other in St. Johns Church. We had wonderful weather and, being a Bank Holiday, a lot of people came along. Some locals, some boaters, walkers, cyclists and holiday makers.

And thank you for doing so if you were one of them – there were a huge number of cups of tea and slices of home-made cakes sold, not to mention the preserves and postcards too!

And between the picture hanging and tea-pouring we snuck in a good catch up and an early morning walk along the bank of the Severn, finally ;pinning down the future partner picture to feature the opposite bank to the Awre Putcher rack on ‘my side’ of the Severn.

Here are a few of my favourite snaps of the weekend, and a little video of inside the church – with a guest appearance of an organ player (I’m sorry I don’t know his name, but Margaret, the lovely lady who organises the Church teas will know).

I met so many people will fantastic knowledge of the place, I shall be back soon I know, as there is a section in my publication about Purton on both sides. Thank you Purton.

And before you go, please complete my little survey, it’s only has three questions!!!





Exhibition today & tomorrow only – with Bank Holiday discounts!!

purton poster A4

I dwell on proximity: an autumnal morning, a soft Severn sun

Since I moved to Newnham on Severn eleven years ago I have come to love the river, not least because it is the first thing I see in the morning. Every day, I open my bedroom window and take a peek at the weather by looking down the street. Since the arrival of Theo the cat, last year, I also now find myself being greeted by a plaintive meow. My days start with seeing the river – the first conversation I have is with a cat. The sounds I hear, before I get out of bed to look out of the window come from birds, either in the form of a dawn chorus, or the cawing of flocks of jackdaws, gathering on rooftops.

This is my first photo today – I have thousands like this, capturing every weather and mood of the morning. And, sometimes, middle of the night snowfalls.


This picture has a religiosity about it, with it’s warm halo of sunlight hovering above the river. I worship that river. Hidden below that light fog will be an almost-dry riverbed, preparing for another day of ebb and flow. It lurks in silence, bracing itself. And I lurk in my bedroom, reflecting on how lucky I am to live so close to it.

Proximity: nearness in space, time, or relationship.


  • to live or stay as a permanent resident
  • reside; to live or continue in a given condition or state: to dwell in happiness
  • to linger over, emphasise, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing
  • to dwell on a particular point in an argument.

I dwell on proximity

I dwell on the river

I ponder in thought, speech and writing

I add images to my pondering process

I most definitely linger

I consider the other side of the river, which at this moment I cannot see. But I know it is there. It’s reliable, dependable. I trust it to be there. Apparently if I dream about crossing a river it means: Making great changes. If you are in the water to cross, it means meeting a lot of emotions in the process of change. So not being able to cross the river shows a barrier in your external or internal life that prevents progress or personal growth – such as the ability to love or be creative in some way.

I cross the river, so these words are reassuring. They make me safe in the knowledge that I am not preventing my personal growth or ability to love or be creative. It’s a great relief to know that.

All these thoughts make me smile this morning – the arrival of the autumn light, the coolness of the air, the fact that I shall be meeting people on the other side of the river this weekend in Purton. On ‘the other side’. I do wonder whether my immersion in this thinking about the other side is a form of distraction from the more unnerving ‘other side’ issues that are happening in the world today. I used to listen to Radio 4 in the morning, but the bleakness of the news now makes me switch it off quite promptly, once it has done it’s job of waking me up.

I prefer to listen to the world in proximity, to dwell upon that.

Details about the exhibition are here. Tomorrow please join me on a walk, meet at 10am opposite St Johns Church, and we can talk together about these river musings, and more.

Then come and eat cake!



a room of my own, for writing and drawing at Hawkwood

As well as doing some drawings, I've really got on top of my plans for the Both Rivers publication and now have a map of what needs doing next. When I arrived last Wednesday, as a means of settling in, I wrote the following:


From the west side of the Severn

To the east

Thinking about



One side

To the other

Standing on the east bank

The bore enters

Stage left

On the west

Stage right

Neither side

Is wrong

Just different


The room is not rectangular

It curves and twists

With occasional

Straight lines

As does the river

My dwelling place

Furnished with various




Fleur de Lis

Double doors, glazed

With an elegant point

Open into the garden

Beyond which woodlands rise

The arch like a flying buttress

Of architecture

Of bridges

A room

To retreat into

A dream space

I wonder

What would Bachelard

Have made of this?

With its many doors

A single entry from the corridor

Three double

Two solid, internal

With different handles

One pair hides a washbasin

The other, storage

The third reveals a view

That opens the heart

The lungs

The eyes

In wonder


In keeping with my thinking

I take four panoramic photos

Two looking outwards

Two looking in

The threshold

The double doors

The point to cross over

From one place

To the other

The outside

The inside

In this room



The gardener is busy

The breeze moves the trees


Passing insects

Glimmer in sunlight

Distant voices

A plane above


From continent to continent




While I nestle

In my room

In silence

My world

For now

My oyster

I recall learning

That a pearl is formed

When the oyster is irritated

A single grain of sand triggers the creature

To encase the intruder

With pearlescent beauty

We must believe in our own pearls

We have the potential

To create them


Crossing to the other side

Seeing things differently

Releases a grain of knowing

Which we can wrap ourselves around

And build up from

Who knows what we might make then?




Hawkwood day #3

Settling in now, lots of thinking, some drawing, some walking along the wonderful local greenways. The writing is coming along as I do battle with the shape if it. How can I create a layout that works with the content and the 'both sides' theme? It's important that is isn't a timeline and doesn't have a beginning and an end. It must flow in and out, like the tides do. I feel like I am revisiting my thoughts about 'notness' – the condition of being unsure how to name something, so resorting to defining it by using words for things that is NOT. For example, it's not a timeline; a travel journal; a walking book; a history book or a novel.

The drawings are progressing slowly, partly because the light has been very variable today, and I need light to see subtle nuances of my mark making. And, if I am to be horribly honest, I have got a little frustrated by mapping out the drawings because they are the only ones that are heavily architectural. They are based on photos underneath the Severn Bridge at each end. I love a rich, expressive mark-making process, a gesture, a smear. Highly engineered objects, like this bridge, need straight lines, right angles, parallel sides. Oh how I struggle with these things. So I'm sharing this with you, just to prove that every artwork has blood or tears shed because of it. Nothing is ever easy.

I'm never very sure about the edge between being relaxed and being sleepy. Wherever the edge lies, I am reclining on it, swinging my foot nonchalantly, a dreamy look on my face, next to a smudge of charcoal. I think I could get to like this life.

Tomorrow the battle will begin again. Only two days left, all good so far.

Hawkwood day #2 settling in, testing charcoal from Resilience Centre

The balance between working and relaxing here is perfect for me. I now have a large pair of drawings taking shape and enjoying strolls in the garden between bouts of intense thinking, writing and drawing.

note to self – do this more often

music: Ludovco Eneudi, backing song provided by the wind in the trees rustling in the wind






Arriving at Hawkwood, opening doors to the mind. Many doors to choose from.

The action of driving from one side of the Severn to the other has sparked off many thoughts to inform my brief residency at Hawkwood College. I’m very thankful for this opportunity, brushing the dust off my suitcase made me realise I’ve not been away for some time. I’ve been here only two hours and have already written extensively and prepared the wall for drawing. It is such a privilege to come here to think.

First thing I did was take some photos, following my thinking pattern. Looking at both sides and the  inside and out. People move quietly and calmly, in and out of the framed garden, fetching water from the spring.

I’m on the threshold and it feels thrilling. Water, bridges, connections. You may have to carry me back to Newnham like this:

ferryman carrying woman copyrighted to Ian Pope

 (C) Ian Pope