Archives for posts with tag: Landscape

​Cliffe Castle Park in Keighley is being restored with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Work started on site back in June 2016 and I’m following progress and sketching whenever I can.

After a long pause at the site of the pond when nothing much seemed to be happening, in the last couple of weeks things have really started to move. 

I hadn’t sketched in this part of the park for a long time, but I didn’t realise just how long until I looked back and found that it was back in the summer of last year. Things have moved on quite a bit since then, but there have been delays – mostly because of the complicated infrastructure needed for the workings of the pond and the two fountains – and for a long time there hasn’t been anything much to record. 

But all that changed recently when mysterious box-like brick structures started to appear in the pond itself, and then a great deal of digging and landscaping began all around the perimeter. Pipes were laid in deep trenches that seemed to be going in all sorts of directions. Mounds of topsoil were built up around the site and rockwork began to be laid along the edge of the pond itself – these lines of rock will define the edges of the pond and the path that will go around it. And then a large green cupboard the size of a small shed was installed, evidently full of electrical connections – the control centre for all the filtration and supply for the pond and both the fountains. I haven’t had time to study all this groundwork and infrastructure enough to be able to describe it or explain it properly, but I did manage to catch some of the work as it developed – and things are moving along fast. 

Looking more carefully at all the sketches I’ve done of the pond, I wish I’d thought of doing some drawings at regular intervals from a fixed point. What I’ve got is hardly an accurate record of how the landscape has changed – I can’t even work out if I’ve got the trees in the right places, though the largest ones are roughly where they should be. A landscape architect would have drawn this in a much more faithful and recognisable way! It’s just another of those things that I’m learning as I go along. 

The next exciting thing will be the return of the fountains, fully restored and ready to go back on their bases and have the water supply connected; there’s still a lot to do, but things are shaping up! 

More updates on the work of the conservation project, photos, plans, and background information here, and at the Cliffe Castle Park Conservation Group website and on the Parks Service page of Bradford Leisure Services.

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Cliffe Castle Park in Keighley is being restored with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Work started on site back in June and I’m following progress and sketching whenever I can.

The view across Airedale from what will be the viewing terrace, on a chilly December afternoon. (Click on the picture to view a larger image.) 

Between Christmas and the New Year work has stopped. We’ve had rain, gale force winds, mist, and fog. We’ve also had glorious sunshine and clear cold skies with the most spectacular colours at sunrise and sunset, and just recently we’ve had frost so thick and hard that the dips and hollows in the landscape have stayed white and frozen solid all through the day, despite the sunshine. I walked up to the top of the hill and looked down over the top of the children’s playground across the valley and sketched a panorama of Airedale until my fingers were too stiff to move. 

This area is where the viewing terrace is going to be. Right now it’s a sea of frozen mud deeply rutted with caterpillar digger-tracks and fenced off for safety, but when it’s finished it will have wooden picnic tables and for me it’s going to be one of the best places in the park simply because of the amazing view. I never get tired of gazing out over Airedale, and this will be a wonderful place to sit and draw. Or just sit! 

The stepped path that leads to Moorside Wood will start from here. At the moment if you walk up the completed section from the wood towards the tower you find your way blocked by wire security barriers surrounding the work site, which is frustrating, but at least you can see what’s going on. Up at the main building site on the top terrace a long section of the wooden hoarding blew down in the gales at Christmas, so for a few days it was easier to peer through and see the framework of the café glasshouses taking shape. Things are moving on. And in a few days the new year will have begun and work will start again……. 

More updates on the work of the conservation project, photos, plans, and background information here, and at the Cliffe Castle Park Conservation Group website and on the Parks Service page of Bradford Leisure Services.

Whenever I look at something with all my attention – look so that I’m soaking it in and really seeing – everything else stops. It’s why for me going out for a walk is such a good way to unwind, because I can’t go far before I see something that I want to stop and gaze at.

We have a choice about the things we look at and concentrate on. In fact we have a choice about whether we really look at all. At times it would be easy to go through a day without stopping to look (and also to listen, touch, and smell) and sometimes it can even be hard to do it at all. This is what depression is about, when it feels as if you are locked in and don’t have a choice, and then it doesn’t matter what you look at, you can’t make the connection or escape from this imprisoned state of mind.

(A quick note, though, about the picture above – I couldn’t resist using it to illustrate that last sentence, but I didn’t take the photograph while feeling depressed! Far from it, in fact. I love the wonderful richness of the texture of the wall and the wood of the shutter, the pattern and contrast of the bars and the mesh, the subtlety of the colour and the mysteriousness of what might lie inside, behind the open window….)

If you’re depressed you tend to go about not seeing at all, or worse, noticing only things that reinforce feelings of bleakness and despair, so I’ve learnt that it’s important to maintain good habits all the time. I find that going out every day to take photographs but more importantly, to look, is much more than gathering source material and hoping that I’ll stumble upon something exciting. It’s more than taking some much needed exercise. More than anything else it’s about deliberately being aware, and paying attention.

In fact recently, I’ve learnt something astonishing – that simply by paying attention to the right things and making a habit of it, over time we can – and in fact, do – actually change the way our brains are wired.

This is from an e mail newsletter that I subscribe to called Just One Thing, by Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist from California:

“Moment to moment, the flows of thoughts and feelings, sensations and desires, and conscious and unconscious processes sculpt your nervous system like water gradually carving furrows and eventually gullies on a hillside. Your brain is continually changing its structure. The only question is: is it for better or worse?

In particular, because of what’s called ‘experience-dependent neuroplasticity,’ whatever you hold in attention has a special power to change your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain – and your self.

Therefore, controlling your attention – becoming more able to place it where you want it and keep it there is the foundation of changing your brain, and thus your life, for the better.”

I’m still not sure exactly why, but this idea got me really excited. Possibly it’s because I like the tangible fact that something I’ve always felt to be true is actually a scientific fact. More probably it’s because I am so preoccupied with landscape and the way water erodes and changes it that I find this such a powerful metaphor, and now I can feel myself creating new channels in the landscape of my mind. If my brain is continually changing its structure, I’m determined to try to make it for the better!

A few days ago I walked down to the river. I hadn’t meant to go, but once I was outside I realised that as it had rained the previous day and most of the morning, the river would probably be up, and the usual sluggish flow might be something rather more exciting.

As soon as I got there I scrambled down the bank to get as close to the water as I could. You get a completely different feeling about a river if you can get right down almost to the same level as the water; suddenly you begin to realise the power of the movement, the strength of the surge, and as I crouched down to take pictures I understood how easy if would be to get swept away if you slipped and fell in.

I love rivers. There’s something about watching moving water that is so compelling; it holds your attention like nothing else and allows you to stop thinking, to let go. A couple of years ago I spent a  day at the Strid in the Yorkshire Dales, a really dramatic stretch of the river Wharfe where the stream is forced between a narrow channel in the rock and churns and boils as it thunders through, and standing there you’re even more aware of the power of water, and what it can do.

It was this day at the Strid that led me to develop the designs for jewellery that I later called the River Collection, and from that moment on I kept coming back to the idea of the river as a point of visual reference. But the idea of the river goes beyond this as a source of inspiration. As Rumi wrote:

“When you do something from your soul, you feel a river flowing in you, a joy.”