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Friday, January 20, 2006

Location, Location, Location


When we moved from the North of Scotland to Norfolk, about eighteen months ago, the general consensus was that we would 'find it very different'. After all, people said, it's flat. And that is not something that could be said about the village we lived in in the Highlands, which was built either side of steep hills. Here, what they call a hill, we tend to think of as an incline. But that actually doesn't matter a bit.

In Scotland, the landscape is dominated by the mountains, it is true. They have a fierce beauty, standing tall, proud and changing little from year to year. They are a reminder to us of our own impermanance, of how small and insignificant we are by comparison. Here in Norfolk, it is the sky that is huge, and the land, which spreads out as far as the eye can see, disrupted only by a stand of trees here, or a church spire or two there. And that huge sky has an equal beauty to those hills, and serves as a similar reminder. If you will, Scotland has vertical scenery; Norfolk, horizontal.

When asked, but surely you miss the mountains?, the answer is, usually, not really. I love the light and the openness of the Norfolk landscape. It encourages me to be open with myself and others, to take risks with my self and my art that I might not otherwise take. The hills can be claustrophobic, encourage you to be secretive with things, about things. Dark.

The buildings are different, too, the vernacular architecture using flint to embellish its buildings. See the picture for an idea of what the flint looks like, each piece a tiny painting by itself. Truly, there is inspiration wherever you look in this lovely place, and for that, I am profoundly grateful.

1 comment:

The Idaho Beauty said...

I grew up in a landscape that sounds similar to your Scottish one. I was just musing on my blog that perhaps my tendency to make dark quilts, use medium to dark fabrics as backgrounds instead of the more common light might be tied to the rich dark backdrop of the heavily wooded mountains that hemmed in around me the first 20 years of my life. Now I'm really worried - when you said, "The hills can be claustrophobic, encourage you to be secretive with things, about things. Dark." I realized, that's me so much of the time...and I haven't lived in that kind of a landscape for years and years. (I'm grinning here.) Worse yet, I want to move back!

What you didn't say about hills, though, that I sensed when I visited there last June, is that they are protective, reassuring, nature's arms to guard you. I'm looking for security, a place to let down my guard. I'm tired of being open, taking risks. I want to make my art without looking over my shoulder for awhile. But until that happens, I make do with what's around me, which as you also say may be different but beautiful in its own way.

The picture, by the way, is wonderful.