Beck Hole


Some miles inland, near Goathland, is the tiny village of Beck Hole. Once a thriving and busy ironstone mining site, now only a few houses remain, including a pub, the Birch Hall Inn. It is very traditional, a bit like stepping back 70 years (or so I imagine), stirring all the nostalgic strings… I went there recently to look at the archeological excavations of the old tramway site, before they are covered again to preserve them. One could see the remnants of the blacksmith’s forge and the adjoining stables for the ponys. It is so strange to think of so many people living and working in this small valley… To me BeckHole is essentially, exquisitely English. A treasured industrial heritage, a small and close community centered around a pub, a stone bridge over a winding river, lovely cottages, pretty gardens full of flowers, a small orchard in which each tree was adopted and cared for by one of the local children… Yet this tiny hamlet is visited by many from near and far, and one is welcomed as a friend. BeckHole holds such strong memories of long walks on summer afternoons that I have spent the last couple of weeks working on these two paintings. This is North Yorkshire. I fell in love with it decades ago, and I love it still.

P.S. 23 August. Here are the finished paintings.

Birch Hall Inn, Beck Hole. oil on bevelled canvas, 30x30cm
Beck Hole. oil on bevelled canvas, 30x30cm

If you are in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, you can see some of my paintings in Blandscliff Gallery’s summer exhibition, until the end of August. It is an interesting gallery full of stunning ceramics.

in Blandscliff Gallery

And you can also see some of my new paintings in Coast Gallery, Cloughton. On the way to Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby, this gallery exhibits the best local painters and serves great coffee and cakes.

Yesterday I was thinking back to where my current seashore paintings have evolved from. Of course, this beautiful North Yorkshire coast can only inspire…

I think of myself as facing North, twix land and sea.

On my back is the warm sunshine of yesteryears. Robin Hood’s Bay is my South, where so long ago I fell in love with that village and a beautiful man, though my roots originate much further South.

On my left are those awesome moors, clad in purple cloaks in Summer and a white mantle in Winter. There, is glory. And there, sweet sorrow buried on a hillside.

And on my right, the ebb and flow of the North Sea. Its gentle waves and fearful tempests, its constantly changing light, the chiming sound of waves over a shingle beach, those deep and rhythmic blues, the feel of soft sand, and those big skies…

I always go back to the sea… And today three beautiful women came to my studio. One, whom I hadn’t seen for about 40 years, bought “Mermaid”. Painted in 2012, soon after I moved back to the coast, it is very different from my current work. One, whom I didn’t know, bought “Runswick Bay”, unusually for me depicting the sea in winter. One, a close friend, had fallen in love with “Robin Hood’s Bay Rainbow” when I first showed it on Facebook. All three paintings are very different in approach, mood and scale, but I take it as a good omen for my current attraction/obsession/compulsion/fascination for the seashore, which I think many share.

Mermaid. Gouache on watercolour paper. 19x26cm. 2012. Sold.
Runswisck Bay. 20x20cm. oils on linen. 2018. Sold.
2019. Sold.

Someone who likes my work has commissioned one of my larger landscape paintings. Leaving me free hand, he sent me a series of his photographs a couple of months ago, to give me some direction. I was inspired by his photographs to paint four seashores from which he will have first choice (next week when they are dry). I have really enjoyed painting sunsets.

For the last couple of years I have been specially attracted by water and light reflections. I think it started when an old lady with Alzheimer moved into my house. The painting below was painted during her stay in 2017. Darkly flowing water, distorted reflections, distorted memories…

Reflections (sold).

Looking back over the last year, I see that many of my paintings include flowing water. This Summer, with its warm evenings, has drawn me to beach sunsets. The warmth of the colours, the depth of the dark headlands, the beautiful reflected light… I am now working on a view from Cattersty Sands, Skinningrove.

July 2019

The little story of a little watercolour.
The first time I went to Loftus was in 2008, to take paintings to Wold Pottery new gallery. I liked Loftus, and later painted this watercolour which was exhibited in that gallery, but it didn’t sell and came back to me.
3 years later I moved to Loftus and settled in my little house.
Last month the Post Office closed.
Last week someone remembered that painting and wanted it.
And I found it.

I don’t throw away or burn my work if it doesn’t sell. Every painting takes me hours or months, sometimes years, and has something of me within it. And sometimes many years can pass before the right person comes along…
Artists live in hope.

Loftus. (sold)

Starting tomorrow 26 June in Scarborough, BlandsCliff Gallery’s Summer exhibition! Featuring Sally Clarke, printmaker, and Clothylde Vergnes, painter. The exhibition lasts until the end of August, so do go and see these two different visions of our landscape, as well as the work of many potters.

And this weekend only, Whitby Art Fair! 40 artists, including ceramicists Jill Christie of Wold Pottery and Shirley Sheppard of Blandscliff gallery, Ailsa Nicholson’s beautiful glass, Clothylde’s paintings… 29 & 30 June. Whitby Pavilion.

Whitby Art Fair is on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June at Whitby Pavilion (on West Cliff) 10am to 4pm. About 40 artists are taking part, including me. See you there?…

This painting was finished just in time for the exhibition at Pickering Memorial Hall this weekend Saturday & Sunday, 10am to 4pm. The red is a fungus which grows on the north side of the trees, and glows in the dappled light. oils on linen, 50x100cm.

Northern Rust

What a sweet life. I go for a walk in the woods with friends, fill my eyes and my mind, and I have enough to keep my brushes busy for a month. Here are two more paintings of the woods. The top one will be exhibited in Pickering Memorial Hall on 8th & 9th June, 10am to 4pm.