Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 4th July 2009
ON A VISIT to Otley in 1810 Turner sketched a thunderstorm breaking over the hills
which inspired his painting Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps. As we arrive
this afternoon there’s a swirl of black cloud building up over the moors to the west
but by the time of the interval in Hunting the Gaint’s Daughter, performed at the
Courthouse Arts Centre, a low beam of golden sunlight has spotlighted the gritstone
outcrop on Otley Chevin, so that it looks like an ancient craggy fortress. This is
appropriate as the performance tells the oldest Arthurian legend to be written down
- in Welsh - in the White Book of Rhydderach (c.1350).
Storyteller Michael Harvey, singer Lynne Denman and composer/musician Stacey Blythe
are currently touring with the show but they’ll do well to match the atmospheric
weather effects that audiences experienced at the start, interval and end of the
show here in Otley; as we set off back home a waxing gibbous moon was rising above
the wooded slopes of the Chevin. A suitable setting for an Arthurian tale.