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A TOUR GUIDE WITH A DIFFERENCE: SEVERNSIDE – AN ARTIST’S VIEW OF THE RIVER SEVERN by Carolyn Black (MA Fine Art)
photos of artworks by Chris Rennie
The author addresses the reader and takes them on a circular journey on both banks of the Severn, travelling from one place to another, dipping in and out of the past and the present. She shares her unique perspective – expect a travel manual, an autobiography, a psycho-geographical tall-tale. Her beautiful panoramic drawings and bold writing combine to provide a narrative of this riverscape for all to enjoy. She has a deep understanding of landscape and how we navigate through it and her book specifically explores how we encounter both banks of the River Severn.
All the senses are stirred by her writing. Joy, wonder and light-touch humour permeates the language she uses, whilst her drawings show how she captures the locations with her hand and eye using charcoal and chalk on paper. Her initial print run of 100 copies, signed and numbered, sold out fast. There’s a new order going in soon and she wants to share it with the world.
INTERVIEW WITH DAVID SMITH ON BBC RADIO GLOUCESTER 19TH NOVEMBER 2018
DS It’s a great mixture here, so how did this come about then?
CB I’ve lived near the Severn for over 25 years now and have always loved it, I became obsessed with the idea of seeing both sides. When you stand in front of a river you don’t just look ahead, you look from left to right, like watching someone on a stage. The drawings are long thin things and the book is too.
DS I love the way your book draws me in to the landscape, I’m there, I can see it. Does it help to have an idea of who you are writing it for?
CB Definitely – I address the reader, my travelling companion.
DS So what’s it about?
CB Art, history and humour. The words don’t describe the pictures or vice-versa, they work together
DS One of the special things about the Severn is the bore, tell me a bit more about this?
CB I love the arrival of the bore. There’s something wonderful about living in a rural inland area and hearing surfers pass your door with a flip-flap sound.
INFORMATION: HARDBACK BOOK, 56 PAGES, RRP £28.00, 295mm x 130mm, Published by art.earth, Kingsbridge, Devon, England in 2018 www.artdotearth.com ISBN 978-0-9957196-5-1
You can download the synopsis here.
Listen to full BBC Radio Gloucester interview here.
Thanks. Can you tell me why?
I love the writing more than the pictures most of the time… but then I’ll pick it up and like a picture.., that’s why
Nixx – local resident
With her atmospheric drawings and her original turn of phrase, Carolyn makes a convincing case for getting to know this overlooked coastline. I have lived here for thirty-six years and I found Carolyn’s book captures perfectly the treasures of the Severn that delight me the most.
Not sure that ‘coastline’ will make sense to people yet that is really how it feels to me.
Andy Vivian – local resident
Your book was gifted to me by my friend. I enjoyed your insight into an area I frequently drive by without much depth of thought. Your book has inspired me to visit the areas along the Severn & when I do, I will use Severnside as my guide, to be sure I remember the detail of those who have walked there before me.
Your illustrations in black & white create a certain atmosphere that is raw & true. The descriptions are personal & have a poetic flair that make reading flow with ease & all the more enjoyable.
Samantha Evans – Local Resident
BACKGROUND TO BOOK
In January 2017 I began to work on a series of large-scale, panoramic, charcoal drawings of the Severn, several of which were exhibited and sold. I worked in my studio on the drawings, and wrote at home on my computer – fact-gathering and collating memoirs about my long relationship with the Severn. In other words, I wrote a book.
Like the drawings, the book is in panoramic format.
There are only a hundred copies available of this first, hardback, edition, published by art.earth. Each book is signed and numbered by the artist.
I’m delighted to be under art.earth imprint and look forward to seeing more of their publications as they expand their publishing house. They run some great conferences at Dartington, and further afield too.
And a brief extract:
“What you are about to read is a road-trip along two banks of the River Severn. The journey is circular, covering a tightly defined area that passes through several counties and two countries. It begins and ends at the Old Severn Bridge. Staring across a river is a very different experience to looking out to sea. The proximity of the banks invites comparison with the opposite side, which may appear to be much closer than it is. Don’t be fooled by your eyes. If you do want to visit the other bank, be warned, it is very likely going to be a long journey, even by car. I have been travelling this loop-de-loop frequently in recent months, powered by my curiosity about parallel places.
One could say this narrative is not dissimilar to a photographic selfie, a geographic self-portrait. The banks appear to mirror each other, but they are not identical. They act as a frame for the river and the Severn could not exist without them.
This is a tour guide with a difference, employing both drawing and writing to portray these places. The locations on both banks were chosen, selfishly, by my own interest in them. Each pairing is a pinch-point of social histories, geographic features and personal anecdotes. Like the sculpted mudflats that border the Severn, I have been shaped and changed by this river.”
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