At this time of year, I seem to be incapable of stopping money leaking out of my pockets, so I’m quite happy to say that my only sale purchase has been a painting.
This is a very poor phone picture of a little acrylic study by Alison Jacobs, who lives quite nearby in Somerset at Steart, which now hangs in my kitchen. The best bit is that the sheep heading off the canvas on the far left actually goes right around the edge of the canvas and hasn’t had his head cut in half at all.
I’ve admired Alison’s work since the first time I saw one of her cow paintings a few years ago in a village exhibition filled mainly with rather beige watercolours. I just loved the way that her cows, normally so pastoral, are portrayed against vivid, uncompromising, coloured backgrounds – making a common rural scene so very much more arresting.
As I’m only 20-minutes’ drive away, I made picking up my new picture from Alison an excuse for a visit to the Somerset coast again. With views of Hinkley Point nuclear power station in the distance, the Steart Peninsula is a bleak, flat landscape, especially when the tide in Bridgwater Bay, on the southern side of the Severn Estuary, is out. But the local colours are really worth seeing – the variegated greys and whites of the beach stones, the bright yellow lichens, the pale browny red pebbles in amongst the general greyness. And never forgetting the palest, lightest blue of the wide, wide sky. I can understand why you would want to paint in this light.
The Environment Agency is doing a lot of work here at the moment to turn the area into a wetland paradise while protecting Steart village from the encroachment of the sea. Ironic really, given that the sea’s retreat centuries ago is what gave rise to all the farmland around here that’s currently being reclaimed for flood protection. Also ironic and maybe a little sad, is that the cows that gave Alison her trademark paintings have vanished from around her house, as the local farmers have been bought out to enable the work that will protect where she lives to be carried out.
While walking on the windy beach, I also found my first ever fossils, without hardly looking, much to the annoyance of a teenage pair who seemed intent on smashing every stone on the beach to smithereens in their attempt. I find the evidence of the ancientness of these little creatures, embedded in the rock, simply quite mind boggling.