Thursday, 20th November 2003
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
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don't often have grey squirrels climbing in the
crab apple but today there are two nibbling the apples, along with
the more usual blackbirds.
I wait to pick Barbara and her Mum up from Wakefield Westgate station
after their Christmas shopping trip to the Meadowhall centre I've
given myself time to do a quick drawing or two.
Rather than chase around for the perfect subject in the limited
time I've got I sit on a wall by my parking space and draw what's
in front of me, which happens to be Henry Boon's pub (see link
below) , a Victorian building on the corner of Westgate and
And, really, it is as good as anything I could have chosen to draw:
I've got in mind what Dan Price - probably best
known for his accounts of wanderings in the wilderness - wrote on
a visit to New York, when he spent some days out drawing with Danny
D. Price © 1998
. . . the days just go floating on by. The peacefullness
comes from finally not really GOING
anywhere. To discover that here is the
best place to be and that NOW can indeed
last forever . . .
This is a new thing. This is a good thing.
Moonlight Chronicles in New
style of the pub isn't dissimilar to the Charles Street door that
Price drew. When I'm working on my village guide booklets it's rare
for me to draw quickly on location - for practical reasons I usually
draw from photographs - but Price's Chronicles and Danny
Gregory's Everyday Matters make me want to get
back to drawing on location.
drawing (right) of a 'bus dispatcher on the corner of W14th
and 9th' is on that same page in his New York Chronicles
and she's there again, this time in colour, on the last page of
the paperback compilation of Moonlight Chronicles which,
I recently discovered, is now available in the U.K. (see link
He makes his 'Chronicle Creed' - 'All us scribes on the friendly
planet earth promise to continue our sketching ways' - seem so inviting
and simple to achieve. It makes me eager to get off on some trip
soon with a sketchbook and with nothing more in mind than to draw
whatever I come across . . . and to simply experience life.
Price's book is one of those that makes me think: 'Yes, that's
it: that's how life should be lived!'
And the great thing about drawing is that, unlike
snowboarding, round-the world yachting or bungee jumping you don't
need any special equipment or any special place to practice it.
I haven't tried the other activities but I think drawing can change
your view of the world just as profoundly (more so, I guess, than
bungee jumping which seems to be more of a physical sensation and
to give only a brief opportunity for looking at the world!).
So, with nothing more unusual than pen on paper, I
drew this is the view over the rooftops, looking up Westgate from
platform 2. The big building is Unity Hall, once a thriving venue
for barn dances, film shows and the meetings of local societies
but currently closed for renovation.
Rooftops tend to be fascinating to draw because it's
here that you're most likely to catch the builders and architects
off their guard. The statements you're meant to see - like those
Victorian doorways - are usually targetted at you at street level.
There's a bit of history even in this partial view as the buildings
along Westgate illustrate the growth of the town along the western
road ('gate' is from the Viking gata meaning street or
And besides that there's the more abstract interest
of those overlapping triangles and rectangles and the rhythms of
the rows of windows.
Tenspeed Books publishers
of the Moonlight Chronicles compilation.
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