Sunny but cold. It's pleasant to draw in the churchyard in the
village of Hope in the Peak District today; I wanted
to include the 1,000 year old carvings on this Saxon cross.
I used my Parker as I felt that I needed something more controlable
than bamboo pen today. It seems so strange to be sitting out enjoying
drawing, rather than sitting out surviving; trying to ignore
the cold, wind and hail as I draw. I don't need the umbrella even
I know that I said yesterday that manmade objects don't really
express what I feel about the Peak District but this one is different;
the artist (not that there was such a career as an 'artist' in those
days) evidently had a feel for the natural world and there's hardly
a straight line in the design, not even in the frame around the
two figures where you might have expected the sculptor to use a
straight edge. The Celtic knots echo the branching of the sycamore
where the crows are nesting. The two jackdaws, stashing twigs in
a niche over the porch, behind the bearded figure of St Peter who
is holding the keys to heaven, echo the two ravens who in Viking
myth kept flying back to Odin to keep him abreast of goings on in
the world of men.
couldn't resist including these two characters. I'm not sure whether
these gargoyles are medieval or if they're part
of a Victorian restoration in Gothic style but I guess that whoever
carved them had fun.
Lesser celandine is in flower in the churchyard.
One thing that I'm trying to say in my Peak District book is that,
although the spectacular scenery and mellow villages are what draw
visitors, the experience of being here goes deeper than picture
postcard prettiness; you're surrounded by 1001 small details, things
that you might not even consciously notice; waterfalls, walls and
carvings, ferns, lichens and tree stumps . . . spring flowers at
the edge of a churchyard. To me they all seem connected, all part
of the history of the Peak, and of ourselves.
Richard Bell, email@example.com