The stories behind some of my images....
'New Moon Hare' is a personal favourite.

A couple of years ago I was walking from my house into Cromer, down a road that leads quite steeply through woodland on either side.  The woodland isn't very well managed, full of spindly saplings reaching desperately for any light.  The sun had just set and a thin, new crescent moon cast long, raking shadows down the slope.  Suddenly, from the corner of my eye I caught a hare dashing across the slope and disappearing into the distance.  It was one of those fleeting, momentary things, that for some reason stay with you quite strongly.

Like most of my images there is no photographic reference.  My mind captures the scene and holds it until it can be used in a picture. Sometimes that is relatively fast, and with other images it can take years.

New Moon Hare is enormously evocative, it sends a magical thrill down my spine every time I see it.
"Midwinter' is a recent image that is proving very popular.

If I recall correctly, this was at the end of January 2017.  We had that type of snow that drifts down slowly and gently in large, fluffy white flakes, coating the landscape in a white blanket.  I was in my studio, which has excellent views of the countryside to the south.  I looked out and watched the snow falling, leaving a strong contrast between the dark earth and white blanket.  A light shone from the tower of St Mary's, Northrepps and in the distance I could see the tower at Southrepps stark against the snowy fields and hills.

It was a beautifully silent, peaceful scene, the falling snow made no sound and nothing else in the landscape moved.  Despite the weather it felt curiously warm and welcoming.  The year had turned now, days were longer, warmth was starting to build and under the blanket of snow new life was beginning to move, ready for the coming of Spring.
'Hunter in the Snow' is another recent image, this time made in December 2017.

I have some wildlife cameras arond my garden and they capture quite a variety, from hares and deer eating anything they can get their teeth into, to this fine fellow.  He is a pretty frequent visitor, usually between midnight and 2am, and incredibly curious.  He comes out of our wood, down the slope then bounces across the lawn in full view of the camera.  A lot of the foxes I've seen around here recently have been thin, mangy-looking things, but not him.  He's well-nourished with a sleek coat, sharp eyes and a magnificent brush.

I decided to make a picture of him loping through the trees on the edge of the wood and looking across to the village far down the hill.  Once finished the perspective reminded me of another image, 'Hunters in the Snow' by Breughel the Elder, obviously it isn't in the same league, but that's how it got its name, and I rather like it.
'Spring Morning' is one of the very first images I made in my monochrome style.  I don't remember exactly but it was probably made in the early Spring of 2012.

A good friend of mine shared with me some 'Ex Libris' wood-cut book plates made in the C19th by her relative, Peteris Upitis, a well-known Latvian artist.  One look and I was transfixed, I wanted to make images like that! That is how it started and I'm forever grateful.

One morning after that I looked over the paddock fence, down the hill to the village of Northrepps.  The sun was climbing in the sky, warming everything it touched and casting strong shadows on the cultivated soil.  It was a scene I had to capture and I did in my usual pen, ink & gouache, but also as an experiment in just pen and ink in a woodcut style.  It has been very popular and every time I look at it the words of Browning come to me, 'God's in his Heaven, all's right with the world'.
'Under a Full Moon' was made in 2014 and remains a firm favourite, I have a large version on canvas over the fireplace in my Dining Room.

There is no denying my love of, and fascination with, hares.  They are enigmatic creatures, witches and tricksters according to some, wise men and soothsayers according to others, and sometimes just plain silly.

Creatures of the moon, undoubtedly. We have many here, no rabbits, just hares.  They play tag, eight at a time, then box in the paddock.  A creature of the open they make scrapes in the young barley then leave their leveretts under our lavender hedge or by the paddock posts, returning dawn and dusk to give them milk and love.  Sometimes they come to the house, crouching on the gravel drive, not moving when I approach because they believe themselves to be perfectly camouflaged.  This one I saw at dusk, coming to feed it's young under a filling moon - just magical.
'Startled Deer', sometimes the male of the species does let the side down.

Early one April morning, a couple of years ago, I walked through the wood then quietly stood in the margins, watching three roe deer grazing on some old game cover, probably a few left-over maize kernels had attracted their attention. 

Quietly, I crept closer then waited.  There was a buck and two does about twenty yards ahead of me, eating away without a care in the world. I remember crouching then easing one leg to get a better view.  That was my mistake, a slight rustle of dead leaves and pine cones and I was spotted. To my surprise only the buck seemed to hear me, the doe's continued eating.  He stared fleetingly at me then without a further thought for his ladies, leaped up and shot off into the distance.  The two does continued eating for a moment then realised he'd gone and wandered off after him with no sense of panic at all. So much for chivalry!
'End of the Season' my very first monochrome print and actually very poignant.

I remember it well, it was 4pm on 1st February 2012 to be precise, last day of the game season and the light was failing.  It was important because I am surrounded by a large and well known pheasant and partirdge shoot, over 1,000 acres of land with drives and game cover in an AoNB on the North Norfolk coast.  Personally I will deal with vermin and so forth but I am not comfortable with stocked and driven shooting, too much like cannon fodder for my liking.  It had been a busy season; my wife almost 'adopts' birds, giving them nicknames and following them throughout the year. Anyway, the guns had finished their last drive of the season, the trailer had taken them away to the local watering hole and all that was left were the pegs out in the final field.  Then we watched as 'biscuit wings', one of her favourite pheasants suddenly appeared unharmed from the long grass - he had survived to the end of the season!
'Dancing Willows', where on earth did this image come from?

Well, several years ago I wrote a book of curious short stories called WitchWives, based in North Norfolk.  One was called 'The Lantern Man' and was set on the edge of the Broads, it involved 'willow the wisps' but if I say more I could give the plot away. Although the stories themselves are not illustratedI I wanted to picture one part for inspiration and driving near Horsey one day I saw a line of incredibly anthropomorphic, pollarded willows in the middle of a marsh near the mill.  They were absolutely perfect, slightly Rackhamesque, twisted, tortured and mysterious in that dank landscape.

The image was so strong I didn't have to remember too much; when finished I asked my wife what she thought, 'call it Dancing Willows' she said, so I did and people really seem to love it.
'The Land of Whipperginny', a strange name from a strange time.

It is the title of a poem by Robert Graves, arguably the pre-eminent romantic poet of the 20th Century and certainly one of the foremost classicists of our age.  He was a war poet but later most famous for his books, 'I Claudius' and 'Claudius the God', both televised in the 1970's with Derek Jacoby in the key role.

He wrote this poem just after serving in WW1, initially for his daughter as a lyrical piece that helped assuage the pain of the trenches and rejoice in his return to the family; but then adapted as a powerful love song in its own right.

This image was inspired by the first stanza;

'Come closer yet, my honeysuckle, my sweetheart Jinny:
A low sun is gilding the bloom of the wood-
Is it Heaven, or Hell, or the Land of Whipperginny
That holds this fairy lustre not understood?'

I first heard it nearly 50 years ago - it makes me shiver to this day.

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