Monday, July 09, 2007

Memories and Influences

Oh dear blogger is really playing up - it won't let me title this post and I noticed someone else complaining about that a couple of days ago. (oh now it has). Yesterday it wouldn't let me publish - yet sent the post out to subscribers!

I wanted to call it memories and influences.

It's in response to an article by Lindsay http://straightlinesout.blogspot.com/ about the earliest influences on her art and the fact that she moved around causing her to have deep feelings about her area and put down roots in response.

I too moved around as a child. My father was in the RAF, in Coastal Command, and we lived in Gibraltar when I was small - my earliest memories are of sitting in my grandmothers garden in England when I was one. I can date it because it was before moving to Gibraltar. There are no words but I was sitting on the lawn on a rug in the dappled light from the tree and I loved it.

I remember the vivid blues of the sea and the flowers in Gibraltar and our street - one of those streets of broad steps. I played with the girl next door who spoke Spanish and I think only learnt about one word - Anda! - go away! I hated the way that the locals would ruffle my blonde curls and say 'Ahhh rubio, rubio' - redhead - and that was my polite response! oh dear! I was only 2.

Then we moved to Cornwall and stayed there for a very formative part of my life. We lived just about a mile from the sea, a couple of miles by road. http://www.bedruthanstepshotel.co.uk/webcam.html this is a webcam shot of our nearest beach - and we are staying there in a few weeks :) overlooking the beach with a view very near to this :) It's called Mawgan Porth (even if the webcam does say bedruthan - ignore it! that's the name of the hotel I think - Bedruthan is further up the coast).

I loved, and still do, the ever changing light and weather, the narrow flower filled lanes, the glimpses, through gateways in high banked hedges, of the sea or valleys and hills; going down 1:3 hills to little coves that were always different - tide in or out, sea calm or rough, blues, greens, wild surf ..... always lovely and always different.



There are tiny ancient stone walled harbours and high cliffs, dramatic winter gales, swirling mists and beautiful summer days.


I missed it terribly when we left. Especially as we moved to a very very flat area, East Anglia, over 300 miles upcountry with drainage dykes and rivers higher than the flat farmland - I hated it :( I can appreciate it now with it's huge skies but at the time I was deeply unhappy to have been uprooted from Cornwall that I loved so much. In Cornwall the high banks meant that every twist and turn of the road was a surprise view - in the flat countryside you could see for miles - no suprises :( , no sudden glimspes of the sea - just cabbages and potatoes and sugar beet. We were in fen country.




Next we moved to the north of Scotland, 30 miles from Inverness on the Moray Firth. There was a wonderful 7 mile sweep of beach on one side of the village and a small almost perfectly circular bay with a narrow mouth - a natural harbour - on the other. It was beautiful. It was far too cold for people to swim but a fantastic beach for walking and beachcombing. We lived just a few miles from Cawdor Castle, where Macbeth is set, and I was reading Macbeth for my English exam :) We also did a lot of border ballads and Robert Burns.

We explored the farthest north of Scotland and the beautiful west coast while we lived there (we lived on the east coast) - again a wonderful light and glorious colours.

Next was Malta - blue Mediterranean, heat, honey coloured stone, prickly pears, fresh grapes, oranges and melons, fiestas and fun. I did my 'A' levels there - 3 hour exams in blistering heat is an unforgettable experience! I loved it (other than that!).

All these places had their own special light and ambience and I'm so glad now that I had the experience - it was traumatic at times though, being uprooted from friends and familiar places and having to start again. I miss out on friends that date back to 'way back when'.

Both these paintings are Cornwall - the top is of Trevose Head, near Harlyn Bay (just a few miles from the webcam), showing the typical beautiful blues and greens of the sea on that part of the coast and the waves crashing on the rocks. The other is of Charlestown - a small stone harbour with an inner and outer section. The inner section contains tall ships and ancient offices and warehouse built into the rock - many films have featured it, including the series The Onedin Line.

Cornwall had, I think the strongest influence - as we returned home after visiting family in the Midlands the light would change once we were a few miles from the coast and we knew we were home :)

I'm hoping to be able to paint while we are there this year.

I think our ideas of what is beautiful in the landscape is very much affected by where we are in our youth. I love wild beaches, high cliffs, clean sand, pounding surf and rock pools, lonely and isolated with noone else there. The trees are bent out of shape by the prevaling wind off the sea, leaning to one side. There are woods inland, on the sheltered creeks of the southern side and in sheltered valleys inland but no forests. The spine (Cornwall is a peninsular) has some bleak wild moorland, which again I loved.

My father grew up in Hampshire/Kent and loves woods and forests and really doesn't like anywhere that lacks trees. He has absolutely no feeling at all for the coast and the sea and a great deal for trees, woods and forests. I don't like being in deep forests, though I like open woodland, well especially the edges of it - I long for a view over hills and fields or sea if I'm in the middle of a forest - he doesn't like rocky landscapes, I love them. My husband is harder to categorise, he's quite urban.

7 comments:

jafabrit said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I have lived in many placed too. At my heart and soul I am a Geordie lass. I love wild coastline/beaches, and moors. I lived in London during my teens and love the life of a city. I have loved living in so many places for so many reasons, and while I felt homesick at times, I never felt a loss of who I am. I think having a strong sense of identity helped.

vivien said...

you are a heroine for reading through that lot!

The north of England is beautiful too :)

I can't honestly say I love the life of a city - I'd miss some of the facilities but I'd much rather live by the coast, somewhere small. Of course, having put down roots could I stand the wrench?????

Katherine said...

I love that first work - I don't think I've seen it before

All that travelling around and where you lived certainly explains your love of coasts.

WILSONART said...

Vivien, what a pleasant visit I've had on your blog! Enjoyed all you terrific work, and especially these seascapes!
Paint on,,,,,,,love seeing you in the forum.
Babs
Wetcanvas

vivien said...

Babs and Katherine thanks :)

yes, living by the coast at a very formative age probably is why I love it so much - and especially the wild Atlantic coast :)

Lindsay said...

Hi Vivien! I only just got back from a camping trip to the beach this week. Thanks for mentioning my blog and for your wonderful artwork and description of the places you have lived. Quite varied!! The web cam shot was wonderful! The shape of the coast reminds me of the Cambria area of California but the light is very much diferent! I hope to visit Cornwall one day and see it for myself. Have a wonderful vacation and I look forward to seeing the work that will grow from that visit.

vivien said...

Hi Lindsay

I hope it was great holiday? (vacation)

Cornwall really is lovely and the light changes constantly - the weather is just horrible at the moment so the light is very different from sunny days.

I hope it's nice when we go