Last month I showed some workings for a piece about the New Forest. It was for this year's open exhibition at Mottisfont (the National Trust house near Romsey), on the theme "open spaces". I produced a three-colour screenprint together and it was accepted by the selection panel.
|"New Forest Heathland"|
The forest was my natural response to "open spaces". The area of heathland south-east of Lyndhurst, down Beaulieu Road and across Yew Tree Heath is my favourite destination for an escape from town. I wanted to depict not only the tiny details of gorse, fern and heather, but also the signs that the forest is a human landscape: trig points, telegraph poles, pylons, sign posts, the obvious management of coppices, cattle and ponies and the constant flame of the oil refinery in the distance.
If I were starting the piece now I would be tempted to make reference to John Betjeman's passage about Lyndhurst in "First and Last Loves", in 1952.
People say you cannot properly see the New Forest from the main roads and they are quite right. But on a warm evening you can smell it between the wafts of petrol scent which linger on the tarmac - the resin scent among the conifers, the coconut smell of gorse on an open heath, the tropic scent like the Palm House at Kew under oaks and beeches, where holly shines and bracken is a young green.
Outside Lyndhurst the forest begins to look less wild. Victorian brick cottages peep about among the trees. Lodge gates stand guard to winding drives of laurel and azalea, at the end of which - how deep, how far, who knows? - are the country houses of the formerly rich.
|Hanging my print!|
Now one of my seven prints is nicely framed and up on the wall. Even better... I hung it myself.
The exhibition is in the upstairs gallery at Mottisfont
28th September to 17th November
11 - 5 daily