Saturday, 2 June 2012

Samuel Palmer
b. 1805
He and several other artists called themselves The Ancients - or were known as such because they seemed to believe in the superiority of ancient over modern man.

i have realized i have always been drawn to Palmer's early works (i.e. The Magic Apple Tree, etc) because they seem to illustrate my own wistful imaginings of the English countryside, especially around
West Wellow where my maternal grandparents used to live when i was young.
somehow something was instilled in me in those days when we were on leave and went to stay with them.  then reinforced by my mother's and my stay at Peg's in the New Forest.
this is a deep vein, and i now recall my surprise and disappointment on discovering the different sort of countryside in the Scottish Borders when i first came to live in Scotland.  of course i am accustomed to it now and love things about it as well.
there is an inner secrecy, an inner idyl, to Palmer's (early) vision (& mine) of the English countryside, which hold you safe and provides an inner light.  sort of enclosed.
The Borders are more open and rough, there is more sky and the hills, high and bleak, have less trees, and drystane dykes instead of hedgerows.  the next landscape i find is the Highland and Island landscape(s) - wonderous amazing scapes, again so different.  wild and unsafe and free.. mountains and swelling seas - and of course more sky.

in the spring i was staying in the Borders where i used to live in the early '80s, and this is where i started thinking about this different landscape thing - the resonances within myself - the meanings i give to them.
and one day i was sitting outside in the sun, out of the wind, listening to the noises, the birds, feeling it all and remembering Iona - the differences between sea and land - noises are different, even the same ones sound different.  Borders background noise, when windy is wind in trees - a low level continuous whoosh.  Iona background is always waves, and sound echoes more there.  in the Borders there it sounds more enclosed; the trees, hills, land all muffle it a bit.
Iona background noise is also of the gulls and oystercatchers, the Borders of different birds - ones which i am not so familiar with so not able to name.
interesting differences.  i tried, that day sitting outside, to get the feel for the different places and what that 'said' to me.  not sure i succeeded!
notes taken from my sketchbook

it was while staying here that i re-connected with some old friends, one of which had first introduced me to Samuel Palmer when i lived there all those years ago - and who lent me once again the huge book so that i could re-connect also with SP.  and this is where i began to identify more what it was i was attracted to in his work and why. 
it seemed there were a few circles drawn, or finished while i stayed there.