WE’RE TRYING a new route to the Lake District today - up the M1 and A1 to a coffee
break in the little market town of Bedale, then up Wensleydale for a lunch break
at Hawes (left). I expected that as we made our way out of the top end of the dale
we’d climb over open moors punctuated by bleak ruins of the old lead mining industry
but the road to Sedbergh is predominantly through lush tree-fringed pastures.
Elijah Allen & Son, groceries & provisions, Market Place, Hawes, drawn from Chaste,
In Hope Park, Keswick, we take a look through the peep-holes in the tall timber fence
around the bird feeding station. A juvenile great spotted woodpecker is on the peanut
feeder. Peering through twin holes, I’m able to draw it from just 3 feet away. Juveniles
have a red cap.
There can’t be many theatres where you can sketch a woodpecker in such close proximity
a couple of hundred yards from the door. We enjoyed a stage adaptation of P.G.Wodehouse’sSummer Lightning, at the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, coming out in the interval
to the view of the lake and fells. We could see two white birds perched in lakeside
trees which I took to be egrets.
As we emerged at the end of the show, Herdwick sheep at the top of the slope of the
pasture opposite the theatre were silhouetted by the afterglow of the sunset.
I’m so used to seeing our local drama society’s pantomimes, where part of the charm
is the amateur enthusiasm of the cast, so it’s good to be reminded what a professional
cast is capable of. I think there are lessons for my own enthusiastically amateurish
approach to drawing. Well, I don’t mean I want to lose the pleasure I get from drawing
but I shouldn’t ever become cosily complacent.
How can I explain it?
Like a Tea-tray
There’s a witty script of course, jolly song and dance routines, but some of the
delights are in the small details: at the beginning of the play the butler brings
in a tea tray. Lord Emsworth, clad in tweeds and breeches enters, transfixed, in
an absent-minded way by this glittering incarnation of English high tea and says:
“Tea . . . te-eeea . . . tea . . . tea! . . .’
If you were to read the script, this line must seem like nothing but, thanks to the
way John Webb delivers the lines, immediately the audience is laughing and, you’ve
learnt so much about the Lord Emsworth character and his approach to life.
In drawing terms, the parallel would be for the simplest of drawing of the most everyday
of objects - a tea tray for example - to bring the same sort delight and, without
being an illustration as such, to evoke a little story of its own.