York: stone, wood, copper…

Autumn is a perfect season to visit the beautiful ancient city of York. A recent week’s break there had me exploring the medieval streets, riverside, and old hidden churches. I took a small sketchbook and brushpens with me, and of course a camera, not anticipating much sketching, but was compelled by the soft seasonal light on the old stone and statues.

For me one of the challenges of a popular tourist city like York is finding the hidden quieter spots to relax and sketch. So it was a pleasure to discover the (free) beautiful garden of the Treasurer’s House at the back of theMinster, where I spent a relaxed hour sketching the various statues and luminous white swathes of cosmos flowers on a convenient bench (the artist’s friend!).One day we stumbled on the old church of St Martin-cum-Gregory in the Micklegate area, which happened to be showing a completely stunning exhibition of the sculpture of Harold Gosney. Unfamiliar till now with his work, this was a beautifully curated retrospective (by the Stained Glass Centre) in a beautiful space. Gosney has worked in stone, riveted copper and wood for the past 60 years, mainly capturing the essence of horses, birds and the human figure. His work is also on display at Ripon Cathedral. More on Harold Gosney and his work here. Images below are © Harold Gosney and greatnorthartshow.co.uk (copper sculpture).

We also spent a few hours wandering through the peaceful space of York Cemetery just outside the city walls, on the recommendation of an artist friend. The cemetery is run on a nature conservancy principle with paths winding through the flowers and shrubbery and semi-hidden angel sculptures among the treees. I found (another) bench in the sunshine and sketched the light through the autumn foliage, trying to push the limits of effects and colour blending possible with my brushpens.

Another place we passed several times without realising it, was the entrance to Holy Trinity Church, off Goodramgate. This is a real gem of a medieval building, which still has the original box pews. Well worth finding but wrap up warm, it’s freezing even on a sunny day. I loved the fleeting play of sunlight on the pews and the colours of the worn old stone.

And, last but not least: a visit to my friend Lesley Birch, an excellent abstract landscape artist who I’d previously only ‘met’ on social media. Her art studio is in Pica Studios, part of the Quacks printers building on Grape Lane. The studios house several artists/makers and are open by appointment. Contact them on this link. Below you can see myself with Lesley in her busy studio.By the way, if anyone can tell me how on earth to add captions to photos on the recent WordPress versions I’d be very grateful. It used to be straightforward, but they seem to have changed it for some reason (on the app anyway!). Thanks.

painting with a lens…

Sometimes I work with a camera (see my photo gallery in the menu).
Images from a recent break in mediaeval Lavenham in Suffolk, which is full of half-timbered buildings from the 14th century onwards. I love finding the overlooked or unnoticed view hidden in old places. These are all as found, created ‘in-camera’.

Little Hall, Lavenham. Digital photo. Abstract impression.

Little Hall, Lavenham. © Mari French 2016

Little Hall, Lavenham. Abstract digital photograph.

Little Hall, Lavenham. © Mari French 2016

Little Hall, Lavenham. Abstract digital photograph of old door numbers.

A previous incarnation. Little Hall, Lavenham. © Mari French 2016

Guildhall, Lavenham. Abstract digital photograph of old railway ticket box.

Guildhall, Lavenham. © Mari French 2016

Detail, Little Hall, Lavenham. Digital photo.

Detail, Little Hall, Lavenham. © Mari French 2016

Candlestick, Little Hall, Lavenham. Digital abstract photo.

Candlestick, Little Hall, Lavenham. © Mari French 2016

Web, Guildhall, Lavenham. Digital photo.

Web, Guildhall, Lavenham. © Mari French 2016

towards the light …

This is the first in a set of paintings I’m working on, influenced by recent photographic images I took in the ancient stone passages and spiral staircase of a local medieval castle keep (see previous post ‘Shadow & light’) …

I’m so excited by this… what I have in mind is evoking the sensation of moving towards the light, through the palimpsest of time, stone and decay that have created this beautiful space.

(Acrylic/ink/charcoal on watercolour board, approx 20 x 30 inches.)

Towards the light © Mari French 2013

Towards the light © Mari French 2013