The Rowan and the Roof-tops

Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary, Sunday, 11th April 2010

roofsrowan blossomTHESE WELSH SLATE and rosemary tile roofs are at the junction of Station Road and Park Square, south Ossett. When you start drawing, even the most mundane scene, you start picking up little details that make a place unique. The chimneys of the house on the left are built from local sandstone and some of the terra-cotta chimney-pots may date back to the the Victorian period, in which case they were probably made at a brickworks attached to a local colliery, using fireclay of the same age as the sandstones, which is upper Carboniferous, about 300 million years ago.

The brick-built house dates from the boom in council-house building following the second world war but the sandstone wall, just visible along the bottom edge of the drawing appears to pre-date them. I can imagine that there was originally a long, narrow paddock or perhaps an orchard, between the Victorian villa and Station Road.

As the name suggests, Station Road was a new road associated with the Victorian railway coming to town, so it cut across field patterns that dated back to the time of the Domesday Book and beyond.

The grid-iron street pattern of planned towns is a rarity in West Yorkshire.

rowan leaf budI had to cut back a few shoots of rowan which were starting to spread over our driveway as the blossom buds swelled and weighed down the branches. I've put them in my enamel water jug on my desk in the studio to watch them unfurl.

For me rowans are at their best at this time of year. Of course, I like to see them in blossom, which will be in the next week or two (never long enough) and later the sprays of orange-red berries are popular with our blackbirds and thrushes but the stage I like best is now; when the blossom buds are unfurling in art nouveau flourishes.

After all these years - and all the evidence to the contrary! - I still find spring a time bursting with possibilities. I find myself brimming over with drawing projects that I'd like immerse myself in. Projects which perenially involve me thinking that this will be the year that I'll get back to drawing from nature, drawing on location and getting out and discovering the delights of new places that I've never visited before.