Category Archives: Paintings

Copt Howe boulder-A

Beneath the tree to the left is a group of large boulders of volcanic ash deposited by glaciers at the end of the last ice age. It stands between Great Langdale Beck and the road that leads west to the axe factory at the Pike of Stickle, amongst the Langdale Pikes seen in the distance. On the eastern face of the rock are a complex series of carvings that consist of several groups of concentric rings with some linear grooves and groups of micro-cups.


What is amazing is that despite the fact that the boulder is popular with climbers and the whole area popular with walkers and holiday makers these late Neolithic or Bronze Age carvings were not recognised as such until as recently as 1999.

(Gavin Parry 2003)
It is thought that this site was linked in some way with the nearby axe factory; the Langdale Beck valley would have made an easy route eastwards for the transportation of the axe blanks and it could even be the case that the carvings represent a stylised map of the peaks and features of the area.


Phil’s painting of the boulder is currently on display until 6th September at the     Lake Artists summer exhibition, at The New Hall, Grasmere.


Metal leaf, coloured ink and beeswax on watercolour paper.


On Dancing Ledge

Back when we lived in Dorset, one of our favourite spots for dog walking was Dancing Ledge. It was quite a hike across fields and then down a very steep path and further down a very steep scramble onto the ledge itself. For this reason, you can often have the place to yourself and on this occasion, Phil took a trip there on his bike, just because.

Dancing Ledge is one of the many quarries in the region worked for the Purbeck limestone, which was used for building work here as well as much further afield. Some of the stone removed by the quarrying was transported by ship direct from Dancing Ledge, round the south coast to Kent in order to construct Ramsgate harbour in the 18th and 19th.

A swimming pool refreshed naturally by the tide was blasted into the rock for the use of local preparatory schools, sometime near the beginning of the twentieth century. The last surviving school (The Old Malthouse in Langton Matravers, which closed in 2007) and one of the schools for which the pool was originally created recently arranged for debris, including several large rocks, to be removed, making swimming possible once again. The sea itself is not suitable for swimming, as there is no shoreline, simply a rock shelf under which people have been pulled by the current to their deaths.

The stone in this part of the Dorset coast was laid down in layers, or beds, over the course of many millions of years. Kimmeridge Clay was the first layer to form, during the late Jurassic geological period and the Portland Sands were laid down on top of this, with the Portland Beds on top again.

Fossilised Ammonite on the ledge

After this, in the early Cretaceous period – approximately 155 million years ago – the Lower Purbeck Beds were deposited in shallow seas, brackish lagoons and freshwater. From fossils found in these rocks, geologists and palaeontologists have been able to work out that shellfish, shrimps and insects lived around the swampy marshlands at that time. Later, there were fish, amphibians and reptiles; and after them came the Purbeck Mammals. Over 100 different species of small vertebrates have been found in fossils in the Purbeck Beds, most of them the size of a shrew or a rat.

‘On Dancing Ledge’ Dorset. 2011   Raw silk, metal leaf, plaster and oil on oak panel. The oak had been taken to the ledge by someone to be used as kindling. They failed to light the fire. The swimming pool is on the left of the lower shelf being refreshed by an incoming tide.

This special place provided inspiration for others too….

HEARTS TOGETHER-  by John Betjeman

How emerald the chalky depths
Below the Dancing Ledge!

We pulled the jelly-fishes up

And threw them in the hedge

That with its stones and sea-pink tufts

Ran to the high cliff edge.
And lucky was the jelly-fish

That melted in the sun

And poured its vitals on the turf

In self-effacing fun,

Like us who in each other’s arms

Were seed and soul in one.
O rational the happy bathe

An hour before our tea,

When you were swimming breast-stroke, all

Along the rocking sea

And, in between the waves, explain’d

The Universe to me.
The Dorset sun stream’d on our limbs

And scorch’d our hinder parts:

We gazed into the pebble beach

And so discussed the arts,

O logical and happy we

Emancipated hearts.
(Poor little jelly-fish!)

Art and about

We have been visiting local artist’s open studios as part of the C-Art event and have seen some fantastic work by Brian Shields, John Anderson, Rosie Galloway-Smith and Ceri Allen.

Brian Shields’ work inspired by the poet John Clare struck a chord with us as one of his poems was read at our wedding in 2013 …

Love Lives Beyond the Tomb
Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew—
I love the fond,
The faithful, and the true

Love lives in sleep,
‘Tis happiness of healthy dreams
Eve’s dews may weep,
But love delightful seems.

‘Tis seen in flowers,
And in the even’s pearly dew
On earth’s green hours,
And in the heaven’s eternal blue.

‘Tis heard in spring
When light and sunbeams, warm and kind,
On angels’ wing
Bring love and music to the wind.

And where is voice,
So young, so beautiful and sweet
As nature’s choice,
Where Spring and lovers meet?

Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew.
I love the fond,
The faithful, young and true.
Known as “the peasant poet” John Clare spent much of his life in and around the small Northamptonshire village of Helpston.

Born in 1793 he worked as a farm labourer and in the local tavern the Blue Bell Inn next door to his home.

His work focused on his natural surroundings, capturing the changing seasons and the nature around him but he struggled to make any impact as a poet in his early life.

Success came in 1820 after completing Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery. Visits to literary society London enhanced his reputation and increased his fame, but the tag “peasant poet” remained throughout his life, possibly because he lacked an academic background.


‘The Patronage of John Clare’ Brian Shields

Clare suffered from bouts of depression and after suffering delusions, in 1837, he was committed to an asylum where he spent the last 26 years of his life. He left the asylum in High Beach Asylum in Epping Forest in July of 1841 and walked 80 miles back home later described in his book Journey Out of Essex. This didn’t stop his writing, however, and he continued to write poetry, becoming increasingly influenced by the work of Byron, until his death in 1864.


‘The Betrothal’ Brian Shields

We met Rosie at Carlisle Guild Hall while she was working on her textile map of the Carlisle floods of 2015.

We own one of Ceri’s landscapes and it was great to meet her in person


‘Heather Burn’ Ceri Allen


Surreal Afternoon…..’Eden Brows Armathwaite’with John Anderson and Brian Shields

The individual pendulums of John’s pendulum wave machine are timed over fifty swings and must be accurate to within three tenths of a second to work.


‘John’s Swinging Cementoids’can be viewed at…..


From the outside looking in. One of Brian’s mirrors with reflection of bird table in the garden.


That’s the Spirit !

This weekend the Village hosted The Spirit of the Eden art exhibition. This is the third show and the standard of work gets better and better year on year.

Phil exhibited his paintings ‘Lanercost Priory’, ‘Us and the Village’, ‘Armathwaite sunrise’ and ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ This last painting was inspired by a recent proposal to locate a massive wind turbine in the area. It’s an observation that when one is planted more will grow. The drawing and narrative for his stained glass window recently installed in the Church next door hopefully encouraged visitors to go and have a look.


The work of the mysterious local artist Goldy (the Banksy of Eden) was exhibited alongside and evoked mixed reactions. Some found it hilariously funny, others were disgusted, some just didn’t get it.


Perhaps the latter included dog walkers who don’t pick up …. Maybe they would if they were made of gold!

Earliest work

A painted pebble is my earliest surviving piece of artwork. I painted it whilest at primary school which dates it to about 1975. I remember the classroom it was painted in and recall the desire for the gold paint. Forty years on it amazes me how little my style has changed.

Drawn to the gold

Drawn to the gold

Some of the paintings I did a couple of years back seem to echo the format. Black lines divide the colours as in my work with stained glass and the same desire for gold.

Nether Denton Roman fort Cumbria

Nether Denton Roman fort Cumbria

Roman bridge abutments Willowford bridge Gilsland Cumbria

Roman bridge abutments Willowford bridge Gilsland Cumbria

Knowleton church henges and burial mounds Dorset

Knowleton church henges and burial mounds Dorset



About two years ago we were fortunate enough to witness elvers climbing the waterfall on the river Eden at Armathwaite. The river falls over a geographic feature known as the Cleveland Armathwaite dyke. This is an intrusion of igneous rock through the surrounding sandstone. The sandstone dates to the Permian period approximately 250 to 290 million years ago and the volcanic activity much more recently, about 56 million years. The dyke is a part of a swarm of dykes centred on the Isle of Mull.


Elvers climbing the Cleveland Armathwaite dyke

Elvers climbing the Cleveland Armathwaite dyke


The the painting is carved into MDF, then treated with Plaster and PVA before applying silver and gold leaf. The final finish is achieved with about eight layers of thin oil paint glaze applied with a very high gloss painting medium.




Can you guess what it is yet?

I have managed to make a start on an entry for this year’s Armathwaite and Ainstable village show.

This is destined to be entered in the painting category “natural world”. For anyone interested in having a guess,the cryptic clue to assist or hinder is “they may have already left the building”.

I am hoping it will be finished in time for the Spirit of the Eden Open Art Show at Armathwaite Old School Hall over the August bank holiday weekend. 


May have already left the building



Foiled again!

Foiled again!