I first came to Avebury in 1965 on a school trip. Although I can’t say my time at Slough Grammar School comprised the happiest days of my life, my alma mater was very good at showing us places that mattered. I remember the feeling of the place was magical, like sunshine after rain, and I felt, in a way that I have come to feel in other special places, that I belonged there.
Avebury is a vast stone cirlce containing two small stone circles enclosed by a huge circular bank and ditch. Across the neighbouring fields the remains of stone avenues lead toward the centre. On the neighbouring hills evidence exists of other stone circles. This is often interpreted as a ritual landscape designed for a specific function: to be the stage for a coming-of-age ceremony for our ancestors. (To read more about this I recommend The Avebury Circle by Michael Dames. To order CLICK HERE)
The most extraordinary thing about Avebury is that in the middle of all this is a village – a village with a guilty past. Most of the stones survived well into the seventeenth century until they were brought to academic attention by historian John Aubrey. William Stukeley made the first accurate survey of the stones in the mid-eighteenth century but had to observe his study being destroyed before his eyes as local villagers broke up most of the stones for building material. It seems unbelievable that such a great human achievement which had stood, untouched for 4,500 years was virtually obliterated in about twenty years.
Three of my heroes, Paul Nash, John Piper and Barbara Hepworth were inspired by Avebury and the shapes of the stones went on to become recurring images in their work.
I have really, really wanted to make a great painting of Avebury for many years and I have failed repeatedly. However recently I’ve got closer to my goal by taking a deliberate step away from reality by working in print. Screen printing forces you to take a simpler approach and the result has been that my stones are becoming more abstracted until I found I had pared everything back to what I loved about them – their incredibly beautiful shapes. Here are a few of the resulting images. Most of these were created for The Bluestone Gallery in Devizes, Wiltshire, which is very close to Avebury. To visit their very nice website CLICK HERE.
The Gallery in Masham, North Yorkshire which is the main outlet for my work, has a lovely new website. To pay a visit CLICK HERE.
There are still some places on the course I'm teaching at Artison about A Contemporary Approach to Watercolour. Friday 18th May 10 am - 4 pm
Watercolour frequently suffers from an undeserved reputation as a pale, washed out medium. Contemporary watercolour artists, however, are exploring vibrant new ways of creating results rich in colour and texture and this course looks at some easy ways to take these ideas into your work.
To book a place CLICK HERE
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