Sunday, 24 May 2015

wild times on the canal


Sitting out on the back hatch while the sun comes up; one of the joys of summer on the canal. If you keep still, you tend to get ignored by kingfishers and whatever else happens to be around, so you see lots. Yesterday morning I heard a clop, and turned, startling a roe deer on the towpath right next to me. It dashed back the way it had come, and dived into the canal, swimming across and scrambling up into the woods, where it did that disappearing trick that roe deer are so good at, only the white rump persisting a little longer, like the Cheshire cat's smile.

Up by the Sainsbury bridge in Bradford on Avon, a flight of steps ascends from the towpath to the road. I was heading up that way, and about to insert the front wheel of my bicycle into the ramp that allows you to get bikes up and down, when I saw a slow worm wriggling its unhurried way down.

Untitled

I put the bike to one side and took its picture. A woman appeared at the bottom of the steps, pushing a pram with two small children in it. I told her about the slow worm, thinking the children might find it interesting.... they were more than interested; they picked it up and started to squabble over it, playing tug of war as I attempted to intervene without shouting at someone else's children, and the mother made ineffectual remarks; she evidently wasn't concerned about the welfare of the poor slow worm...

Untitled

...and its tail came off and wriggled furiously. The brats were persuaded to deposit the creature in the grass, and led off crying. 

Hey ho.

Then there was the dog that came galumphing along the towpath, leaping into the water and emerging with a Huge And Very Dead eel. It dumped it by the side of my boat, and trotted away. Well, thank you.

Untitled

I heaved it into the middle of the canal, and for the ret of the day it drifted to and fro in response to the vagaries of the water flow down the lock and up through the pump.... I began to contemplate means of sinking it or attaching it to a passing boat. But it was finally lost from sight and smell.

I hope.




Monday, 18 May 2015

Bath exhibition of canal art


June is Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, and Bath-based charity Julian House is organising  some events in the Bath and North East Somerset area; one will be an exhibition of art, craft and photography by members of the gypsy, Roma, traveller and boater communities, at Walcot Chapel Gallery in Bath.

Some of my pictures will be included- I'm busily working on a series of paintings showing people and life on the cut (as we call the canal).

The Grey Hares

There will also be work displayed by Chris and Jinny, the wonderful Skyravenwolf team; also sculpture and photography (I shall add more details as I learn them!)

The exhibition will run from 22-28 June.

Here is the Facebook page for events in B&NES.


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Every Mole Is Thunderbird 2 In Its Dreams



It would have been ungrateful to ask for a better morning. The sun was taking its time about clearing up the early mist and the light ground frost, because it had all day ahead of it.


I was out with the camera looking for the hares I'd seen dancing in the field next to the lock, the day before. I mentioned it to a hire boater; he put on that voice that Middle Class Men Of A Certain Type adopt when talking to someone they think is a loony or a member of the working class, and said "Oh! I must keep an eye out for them..." His loss.

No hares, but a dead mole lying on the bridge. I wondered how it had come to an end there; but it was saying nothing. I perched it on the bridge parapet and photographed it. I'd have taken it home to draw it but there were some tiny insects crawling on it, and I wondered if they might be mole ticks or something similar. After my deer tick experience some years ago, I was being cautious. 



I went back later, and the mole was gone.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

holding up a slightly dodgy mirror to nature

Sarah's Lister

My second picture in the new series; Sarah with her shiny Lister, newly-rebuilt and painted red. I was quite pleased with this pic, because it looks like Sarah; the trouble with drawing real people is that you feel a bit of a failure if the picture ends up looking nothing like them. Which happened with the next picture, Craig and Kane. Craig's on the left...

Craig and Kane

Funny business; I dumped the first version, and worked and reworked this one before thinking "Sod it, I'll be here all year at this rate" and just finishing the damn picture. It looks like someone, but it just doesn't look like Craig. 

It's like when I did the pictures for The Bristol Downs; a natural history year. Having taken the job on, I suddenly realised that it wasn't enough to do nice pictures; I had to do accurate ones. 

beech

...which isn't really the case with the current project. But it would be nice if they were. 

Maybe I'll come back to Craig.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

woruld onetteð

On board Nettie

The pace of the year is speeding up day by day, and it's time to get on with all sorts of projects- right now, I'm collecting sketches and photos for a series of pictures of Life On The Cut. Here's the first of them; Chris and Jinny, on nb Nettie, working away with an industry and quality of artistry that quite puts me to shame. Here's their website where you can see what they do; it's called Skyravenwolf

The title of this post comes from the anglo-saxon poem The Seafarer:

Bearwas blostmum nimað, byrig fægriað, wongas wlitigað, woruld onetteð...


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

let's hear it for the sparrow

robin in the garden

On Voting For A National Bird 
Though there’s a case to choose the robin-
Gaudy-coated, territorial,
Thuggish, pushy, rival-mobbing,
Here-we, here-we, here-we-gorial,
Argumentative and narrow-
Give me, instead, the humbler sparrow
Whose virtues are too long to list
And from the poll is sadly missed.

Britain needs a national bird, apparently. Here's where you can vote. The sparrow's not the only bird missing from the list; the Kentucky Fried Chicken is absent, too, its remains probably scattered around some distant lay-by. I particularly like lapwings and curlews, but I prefer to leave them well alone, just as I'm sure they'd prefer to be left alone. Can't really see either of them stepping happily into the limelight, winning contestants on Britain's Got Talon. Which bird, gentle reader, would you go for?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

March hare

Uffington hare in autumn

...this particular March hare was started in autumn, hence the seasonal fruits. But I finished it today after it had been sitting around for months. And it's the first day of March. So happy St David's Day!