THE JOURNEY HOME
St James the Less Teesdale
Early in the year, one fleeting week of snow drove me up in to the higher reaches of Teesdale. I took a few photographs that I saved in a folder called 'In search of snow'. That was it, one week of snow that came and went in a day down in the Wear Valley, but lasted longer in the wilder swathes of the Dales. How was I to know at the time that this would be the end of the freedom to just investigate our beautiful area due to covid restrictions.
After a summer of using wide weave canvases aiming to reduce my tendency to drift into unnecessary detail, I realised that for me, some level of detail was actually necessary. So some time towards the end of summer I took the plunge and ordered a bespoke canvas. It was (is) 137 cm wide by 77 cm high and is made from a fine Belgium Linen 300gsm. I told myself ignore unnecessary detail but keep paint and canvas clean enough to work on detail where it was needed. This is the result.
Large sweeps of blue white showing the range of the Dales landscape alongside the delicate weaving of branches and snow set against sky, field and the one building. The building is a church, St James the Less in the Forest. Its lonely and peaceful grave yard lying amidst the rural agricultural setting. Three lonely sheep further up the dale hardy against the snow and seven in the foreground trudging their way across the field possibly in the hope of shelter.
I have heard from many people with stories of this church, people who have family members resting there; people who visit just for the peace of the place; ex vicars and percent; people who simply love the place. I may have to revisit St James in another season from a different angle - maybe. but for now this is my interpretation of the accessible yet wild Upper Teesdale.