Hand-tinted photographs have always held a certain appeal. Of course when they were first done, it was because we had no colour photography. But we do now, indeed we have digital, which opens up many new ways of working. I use my iPhone for most of my photography these days and occasionally play about with image editing software and apps on my iPad. I bought a Pencil years ago, to use with Paper (don’t you just love how close they want to be to materiality, the real thing?)
As many readers know, I’ve been drawing large, monochrome riverscapes for a couple of years. Only once did I do one in colour, but rejected it and returned to good old black and white. Psychologically, this may be related to life (and death) events. I’m walking in circles, finding my feet again.
This year I have done several 360 degree images and videos, which I have edited into muted colours. The natural colours were pretty mute to begin with, but I also found myself celebrating bright blue skies and green leaves. Colour started to seep back into my life.
There’s a pattern forming here. When I write I often write in prose, then reduce it to more poetic form (I stop short from calling it poetry). Then reconstruct, having pared back.
Also this year I have been enjoying the changes of light on May Hill, from a viewpoint that means I can snap it willy-nilly and relish the wonderful shifts of forms and hues. It reminds me of when I moved into my Newnham home and took photos from the bedroom window almost EVERY morning, of the Severn, for the first couple of years. I still do so, occasionally.
So moving away from the river (it’s scary, but I don’t go far!) I’ve become intrigued by the view from Pleasant Stile. I drive down some mornings quite early so I jump out and take pics of the Severn from there too.
So, after all this preamble, I’ve been playing at digital-darkrooms. I take colour photos, I greyscale them, then I put back a little colour. And I think they are growing on me.
I welcome your thoughts on them, and the process.
Click images to see them larger
I went on my regular pilgrimage to the banks of the Severn today, to view the bore. Only a ** prediction today, but it was probably a -*
With lots of Monday-thoughts on my mind, I observed the activity on, and in, the river. There have been duck shooters there recently and local people are upset by it. I mention the ducks, and the role they play in warning of the waves arrival, in my upcoming book, An Artist’s View of The River Severn:
Switch your clock back to the now and breathe in the pungent smell of the elderflower ripening in nearby hedgerows, or the brambles plumping up in tangled masses like unruly hair. They have always been there and will return every year, long after we have gone.
Notice the ducks as they gather anxiously, awaiting the arrival of the bore from stage right. They navigate the turbulent currents that begin to form, at one with the water they glide on. Across the river, stage left, some of their human equivalents flip-flap onto the mud-flats. Dressed in tight black wetsuits, carrying huge surf boards, they enter the riverbed from both banks. Audiences line up on either side with anticipation, all eyes turned seaward, waiting. In the quietness, the lull before the storm, you might catch the sound of the village clock chiming in the High Street, then, seconds later, the bells of St. Peter’s follow. Time is proven to stand still in Newnham, if only for a split second……..
The herons elegantly wait, upright, alert
No large wave today
Few fish swept in for breakfast
A sole surfer
Returns to the bank
With head bowed low
The ducks wing back
In twos and threes
Safe, behind the cliff
Grateful to have survived their flight
Meanwhile, the tide curves in
To meet the river
On its way down to the sea
Approach, then circle
Back to back
To their original positions
Ripples shift around each other
Jostling for their right
To do what they must do
The leavers seek to move forward
Halt the tide of immigrants
Forgetting the purpose of the EU
To keep this island safe
The remainers hope to turn back the clock
The sandbanks begin to disappear
Flooding overcomes them
The bore returns
Again and again
Then continuing on their way
Whirlpools are forming
In this world
Under the surface
Drags us down
“A large drawing of the River Severn by Newnham artist, Carolyn Black, is to be sold in a sealed-bid auction to raise funds for the St Peter’s Bells Restoration Appeal. This original work of art captures the view as you stand by the cliff edge in the Newnham churchyard looking north.
Cam Dickie, who chairs the appeal, says the drawing is a remarkable achievement. “Wide, panoramic views are notoriously difficult to capture on canvas, but I think Carolyn has found a way to meet the challenge. Because the drawing is so wide, we have to turn our heads to take it in. From the church on the left, our eyes follow the row of houses that sweep down Church Road to the river, then across the wide-open water to the Old Passage Inn on the opposite bank. It really does capture the mood of the estuary at Newnham.”
One of a series of large-scale charcoal drawings that explore the Severn, the Newnham picture is the biggest by far, measuring two metres across. It came about because of some voluntary work that Carolyn did for the bells appeal. “I offered to help set up their website and took some panoramic shots for the front page. Visit the appeal website at www.newnhambells.wordpress.com, and you’ll discover the original shot which inspired me to undertake this drawing. I want to support the bells appeal and donating the work feels like the right way for me to help.”
You can view Carolyn’s drawing in the window of the Quaker Library on Newnham High Street from Friday 8th June until Friday 22nd June. Bids should be placed in a sealed envelope along with your name, telephone number and email address and delivered by midnight on Friday 22nd June. Address them to Art Auction, Quaker Library, 26 High Street, Newnham, GL14 1BB. The envelopes will be opened and the winner with the highest bid announced at the Riverside Rock concert and picnic on the evening of Saturday 23rd June. The full amount of the successful bid will go towards the bells appeal. There will also be limited edition prints available for those whose bids are unsuccessful.
Tickets for the Riverside Rock concert, also a bell appeal fundraiser, are on sale at Newnham Post Office in the village shop. For further information contact Cam Dickie on 07886829960 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve been going around in circles a lot lately, having returned to my own practice, as well as continuing to produce projects and collaborate with others. Doing GDPR has got me in a spin as to how to address these issues in one email newsletter. This is IT.
Flow has its own mailing list. Please forward this link to your friends and invite them to join too!
If you’d also like to know more about artworks and exhibitions by Carolyn Black, please subscribe here
Sometimes the landscape enthrals me.
Over the weekend, a chilly walk down by the Severn resulted in my finding a small landslide, where the under-cliff below St Peters Church in Newnham had released a few slabs of marl and clay mudrocks down into the soggy riverbank below. Two early-18th-century accounts of the church recall how the ancient spire church standing by the Nab’s end was taken down for fear that it should fall, because the earth around its foundations was being washed away; one account says that the old materials were used to build the little church at the south end of the town. (ref)
I was fascinated by the fleshiness of the rocks, the red river clay looks like blood corpuscles, the ivy traces like veins. The cold air sliced into my lungs.
This morning I awoke in my friends house at 5am o see the red sky glowing behind May Hill. It is the 1st May, Beltane, and it intrigued me that it looked so peaceful and calm in the early morning light, whilst, on the radio, I heard that there was much merriment and orris dancing going on, as well as scrumpy drinking. Urgh, 5am drinking is not for me, far lovelier to view the stately tree cluster that sits like a bun on a hill.
Driving home at 6am the radio was ringing with many pop songs about sun and new day etc. The Beatles clinched it for me.