My dear readers are invited to another private viewing, (as Helen kindly referred to my last art post) in the Yorkshire Gallery.
In keeping with my inability to choose any artwork to buy, all of these are gifts.
Let’s start with the Hockney print. ‘Off the wall’. Most appropriate for me I feel.
In fact it was actually given to my partner. He was decorating a pensioner’s flat who lived in expensive sheltered accommodation in Newcastle. It was a recommend from another resident, whose flat he had painted.
Anyway, said old dear was tidying out her flat and decided to chuck out the Hockney print. But did Partner want it?
Well, those of you who have read about his skip-scavenging activities will not be surprised to hear that he said yes.
Firstly it went up in our kitchen in Newcastle where its bright cheery aspect in the early morning sunshine never failed to lift my spirits. Even when I was going to work.
Next it made its way to our finca, where one night we heard a resounding crash, and the print was truly ‘off the wall’ due to the cord fraying.
In October last year, I finally got it reframed. After long discussions with my picture framer up the street, we finally agreed that the print would look striking with a black mat (I think that’s what it’s called, ie the background card around the print). But when I collected it, it had morphed into a cream one (which we had previously rejected as too bland and samey). However, when it came to matting it on black, my framer decided it didn’t work. I had to laugh. They could have rung me, it’s not two minutes walk away. But as it looked fine, who cared? Not me.
David Hockney, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a Yorkshire-born artist. Born in Bradford and went to Bradford Grammar School. I mention BGS because it is a well-respected (or was, no idea about now) independent school in the West Riding industrial town of Bradford.
I find Bradford a gloomy place, and obviously so did Hockney, because he spent many years living in California. However, his two main residences are now listed as Bridlington and London.
Bridlington is a spa town in Yorkshire, and this century, Hockney has set up a large studio there, and concentrated on still lifes, landscapes and portraits.
Probably his most famous painting – if you have seen any Hockney work – is ‘ Peter getting out of Nick’s Pool’. This won the John Moore’s Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Another interesting connection here, (practising my aspirational Freshly Pressed prose here where I try and make tenuous links out of everything), I actually spent some time volunteering at the Walker when I was at university, as at one point I had thought about going into the art world as a career. Anyway, it was boring as hell sorting a load of tiny slides, so I soon lost interest in that. I did like wandering around the gallery though.
Moving onto Bridlington, and other Yorkshire venues, I recently acquired some prints by a talented Yorkshire artist – Gerald Overton – some of them signed, from a good friend. Acquired is probably not the right word, they were a present. How wonderful.
So, I’ve set about framing them, a few at a time, which plays havoc with the hanging, and thereof threatens marital tranquility when I decide I want them moving around.
Some are black and white, and some have been coloured. Some have a faint almost sepia tone to them.
Let’s start with Bridlington where the lovely David resides. I wonder if he has done a painting of Bridlington harbour? Either way, it won’t look like this.
One of my favourite harbours for years, and my very favourite boat was the Thornwick. I must have been a real pain as a kid, because every time we walked along the pier, I wanted to go out on the Thornwick for a boat trip.
For those of you who haven’t seen it on one of my other blogs (the not-a-photo-blog), here is baby roughseas taking one of her earliest trips along the pier.
Just up the coast from Bridlington is Scarborough. Where I also spent holidays and lived for a few years. Another spa town, and quite a spectacular setting with two beautiful long beaches either side of the harbour, and a castle on the hilltop, where I worked as an archaeologist one late summer/early autumn. There is a photo of Scarborough’s North Beach with the castle on every pic blog.
And the capital of Yorkshire – the city of York. This is Clifford’s Tower, the surviving Norman keep from the castle of York. It is a Grade 1 listed building and currently owned by English Heritage.
When my parents retired, they lived a few miles away from York, so it was an easy visit from their new home. I spent many a happy hour wandering around York. And before that? Needless to state, I worked in York as an archaeologist as well, although nothing as exciting as Norman castles, I seemed to spend most of my time discovering Victorian drainpipes. Another potential career that bit the dust.
I grouped these three prints together in the sitting room and above our dark oak wooden dresser/sideboard/whatever it is called. No pix of that, because it looks grey right now, covered in dust. However that does explain the choice of frame. I wanted to pick up on the soft colours and browns. The Scarborough one was done first and by the time I took the other two, there was none of that frame left! Anyway, the second wooden framing is good enough, it is pretty close in style and colour.
Moving back into the bedroom where the Hockney print lives, we have another York print. I like the black mat with this, and I think it picks up the strong black of the twisted tree trunk. In the background, you can see York Minster.
From the capital city of Yorkshire, to the capital city of the East Riding, Beverley. This is a lovely, gentle market town, with plenty of beautiful old buildings. It is also home to the oldest grammar school in the country, founded in 700, Beverley Grammar School.
Travelling through Beverley back from our holidays at the caravan near Bridlington, I was always fascinated to see a couple of dogs before you enter the city. There is/was? a huge grassy area, somewhat like The Stray in Harrogate, on the outside of town. And at the roadside there were always two kennels on either side of the road on the grass, each with a collie-type dog. I never did find out the reason for that.
Back to the minster, which is the subject of the print. It’s one of the largest parish churches in the UK and larger than many English cathedrals. Another Grade 1 listed building. Work began on it in the early 13th century.
It is regarded as being one of the best examples of Perpendicular architecture, and the twin towers of the west front (seen in the print) influenced the design of Westminster Abbey (London).
And a quirky fact. The minster contains one of the few remaining Frith Stools. Anyone wanting to claim sanctuary from the law would sit in the chair. No idea for how long. It dates from pre-Norman conquest, ie before 1066, and so is Saxon. Bet you can’t claim sanctuary from the law these days by sitting in it.
Underneath Beverley Minster is Whitby Harbour (not literally, only on my wall). No, I haven’t worked there as an archaeologist, although I may have done the odd newspaper story. Can’t remember.
But, along with Whitby being famous for its Captain Cook links, it is also famous for being the first place where baby roughseas ate her first meal out at the Royal Hotel on the West Cliff. I have no idea how old I was, not very I suspect, and I am sure my mother took along my fork, spoon and pusher set.
As for holidays, no family holidays there, just day trips from Bridlington or Scarborough. But I did stay at the youth hostel with a grumpy warden and I left my jesus sandals behind. As you do. However, grumpy warden turned out to be not-so-grumpy and helpfully sent them back. The youth hostel was next to the abbey. There were a hell of a lot of steps to climb up at 15-years-old after you had been out on the town.
And next to the Hockney print, the final two black and white prints. At the top is Flamborough Head, and underneath is the Bonhomme Richard, an American ship.
All the prints in this room have been framed in narrow black, called oddly enough ‘Hockney’. I do like it when coincidences fit nicely together.
I like the dark shading in this print of Flamborough, I think it is very striking. And while I would normally hang a vertical pic above a horizontal one to draw the eye down and anchor the display, it didn’t work that way, so they ended up as above.
Flamborough is another superlative place, in all senses of the word. Apart from the fact that it is utterly beautiful, it has a few claims to fame. It is a Special Area of Conservation, a local nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on grounds of geology and biology. North of the headland, Bempton Cliffs is an RSPB reserve.
It is Britain’s only northern chalk sea cliff, with a larger number and wider range of cave habitats than any other chalk site in Britain.
The 200,000 nesting seabirds include one of only two mainland gannetries in Britain.
Historically, the shooting of seabirds was condemned back in 1868 by Professor Alfred Newton in a speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science (I used to be a member of their youth club – so to speak – BAYS). The MP for the East Riding, (Sir) Christopher Sykes subsequently introduced the Sea Birds Preservation Act in 1869, the first act to protect wild birds in the UK.
Oh, and Flamborough also has the oldest surviving complete lighthouse in England dating back to 1674.
Danes Dyke is one of the best bits of Flamborough and another favourite childhood spot. It’s a two mile walk down a track with steep cliff sides and lots and lots of pebbles and stones. I’m surprised there are any left, I used to pick up so many on my trips there. It was a long walk back uphill over pebbles to the car at the top of the cliff.
For some reason, the American War of Independence found its way to Flamborough. A more unlikely setting I can’t imagine, but still.
The Battle of Flamborough Head (about which I knew nothing before) took place in 1779 between a pair of Royal Navy frigates and French/American ships.
Bonhomme Richard was built in 1765 as a merchant ship for the French East India Company. She was given to American John Paul Jones by Louis XVI of France in 1779. Pesky French, always having a go at the Brits.
The BR and a few other American ships went off to fight the Brits in the Bay of Biscay but had to return to port for repairs. So next it sailed down the east coast of Britain and bumped into our boys in dark blue.
Happily firing away at BR we were doing quite nicely, but the crafty John Paul Jones managed to lash the ships together, thereby negating the superior firing power of the British Serapis frigate.
Neither boarded the other ship, but when another American ship joined in, the wimpy British captain surrendered at night after four and a half hours of fighting. Honestly! I ask you. Bet Nelson wouldn’t have been impressed with that.
However, despite winning the battle, the Americans lost the ship (although methinks they won the war). Bonhomme Richard sank some 36 hours later around 11am on Saturday morning, 25 September.
She is believed to be off Flamborough Head but attempts to find her have so far failed.
Caution: this is not an academic history post by any stretch of the imagination. It is not quite the style I would normally employ to discuss the strategy of the British Royal Navy repulsing uppity insurgent colonialists.
Furthermore, I haven’t cited sources (sauces?!) as I’ve mainly used Wiki.
And if, you didn’t read the previous art for art’s sake posts, here they are: