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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Walking in an Artist’s Footsteps

"Ah, I see we're on the same page.  Or canvas."

The bus tour taught us that there was more to Holmfirth than “Last of the Summer Wine.”  Just as people are always more than we perceive, our driver touched upon some of the highlights from Holmfirth’s past and present.  The area’s unique qualities had given birth to a thriving textile industry.  Several floods had washed through this lovely valley, taking many lives.  Ironically, some of Britain’s first films were made here.  Some have even suggested that, had World War One not happened, Holmfirth could have proven a precursor to Hollywood.

Now this is what I call Summer Wine Magic.

Colin mentioned a local artist as he drove out of town.  That evening, my wife suggested that we visit his studio.  Back home, we don’t normally visit art galleries: we know where we are, as well as why.  Yet on vacation, it helps to view the landscape through a local artist’s eyes.  Their depictions of the surrounding landscape offer another perspective.  They remind us that, while we know what drew us here, others have different reasons for making this their home.

The path we take twists, turns, and navigates hills.

In Ashley Jackson’s work, the plain white sky so often seen in “Last of the Summer Wine” emerges as a full-fledged character.  Roiling like an angry god, it hovers above Holmfirth, tormenting the hardy townsfolk who would rather endure the torments than abandon their beloved town.  I’m not sure I could live in Ashley Jackson’s world: his landscapes tend toward the stark and bleak.  Then again, the Fantasy stories that I love often focus upon great wars and terrible events that overtake imagined lands, and threaten to sweep away those who populate them.  As with those works, his canvases speak of stirring battles.  Only those who persevere, who refuse to give up, can hope to achieve victory.

Perhaps we need a Mini to explore them.

Here I go again, speaking of something I have done as an analogy for life.  Yet isn’t that what great art offers: a chance to view one’s life more clearly?  That visit to his studio, while lasting but a few minutes, would prove decisive.  For there we received a booklet in which the artist lays out a particular walk.  The next day, we followed in his footsteps, stopping at various points to compare what we saw to how he had depicted it on canvas.  Viewing the landscape through his eyes and my own, I could understand how the landscape could be both cruel and kind to those who lived there.  I could see the haunting beauty that drew filmmakers, and understand how nature would then punish them and test their tenacity and resources.  The journey even took us past a working textile mill.  Later, back in town, my wife would purchase some of the local yarn.

In regard to “Last of the Summer Wine,” the walk proved a definitive experience.  That morning on the road evoked memories of Foggy, Norman, and Campo undertaking similar journeys.  I could see how such vistas could inspire Foggy to attempt feats of greatness.  As with Ashley Jackson, they also inspired me to pursue my own.

Thanks for keeping pace with me,
Dragon Dave

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