I’ve been collecting stories from the Yorkshire Dales for a while now in prepartion for an exhibition this summer. When I started asking for it didn’t take long to realise that some places attract legends like a hedgehog attracts fleas. Pendragon Castle is a case in point.
Pendragon Castle lies on the north western edge of the Dales in the shadow of Wild Boar Fell and the crumbling ruin sits on a mound in which a dragon lives. The castle’s name is well known from the legends of King Arthur. Uther Pendragon was Arthur’s father and was reputedly born here. That’s the first legend. Uther lost the castle when an enemy poisoned the castle well during a siege killing a hundred soldiers.
Wild Boar Fell
The castle was also home to Sir Hugh de Morville, one of Thomas Becket’s murderers. Sir Hugh was haunted by the similarity between the silhouette of Wild Boar Fell and the shape of Becket’s face in death. From the right angle the hill looks like the profile of a fallen man.
As if all this wasn’t sufficient for one ruin there is also a buried treasure which is guarded by a spectral black hen. As fast as a treasure hunter digs a hole the hen fills it back in.
So, for my forthcoming exhibition, I’ve been wrestling with how to portray this mysterious place. In the first painting I played with idea of an aura, using a halo effect to enclose the castle and echo the shape of the tree. In the second I drew my inspiration from the colours of the hen: black feathers, red wattle. And in the third I tried to bring an other-wordly, unreal feeling to the castle’s silhouette.
Tulips in Watercolour
For those interested in watercolour floral painting there are still a few places left on the course I’m teaching at Constable Burton. Run by Artison studios of Masham, the course includes a tour of the beautiful gardens and lovely Palladian house of Constable Burton as well as lunch. CLICK HERE for further details and to book a place.
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