Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Summer on the Somerset Levels

One of the things I quickly learnt about taking photographs outside, is that strong sunlight and photographs are not happy companions!  And so during the recent scorching summer weeks on the Somerset Levels I have been sorting through photos taken so far this year.  Some of my images resulted from planned walks in the early summer sunshine, as was the case when I did the Avalon Marshes - Godney Gander an easy 3 mile walk around the 'island' of Godney just a few miles north of Glastonbury.

The old droves made for flat and walking and my much loved stumpy willows reflected beautifully in the River Sheppy.  I loved too how the sheep as ever stopped to look at me looking at them and this particular face is one that I came to study in much detail.

By contrast they day I finally climbed the steep steps to Brean Down was totally impromptu.  Officially the edge of the Somerset Levels, the beachs of Berrow, Brean and Burnham on Sea form the second longest stretch of beach in Europe.  This coast line was subjected to a devastating Tsunami in medieval times and this led to the creation of sand dunes which pretty much line the whole stretch.

I was thrilled to find some new stumpy trees on the top of Brean Down which looked stunning against a beautiful blue sky.  It was clear that the gentle breeze on the day I visited was far from the normal climate that the many windswept privet, hawthorn and elder trees on Brean Down endure.

Their tree trunks show their true resilience to the elements and I wondered at how many years it had taken this nifty collection had taken to form.

Some of my best photo finds are totally impromptu and sometimes very close to home. Running errands one Sunday morning, I spotted the most incredible haze of blue out of the corner of my eye.  When I stopped to take a closer look I felt sure that I would have noticed such an amazing display in earlier years.

Luckily the landowners had also stopped to photograph and explained that Linum Usitatissimum, more commonly known as Linseed or Flax, had been planted for the first time in their fields to aide crop rotation.  Their flowers are very short lived and I was very lucky to spot on the day that I did.  Oh to be a more proficient spinner and try my hand at a fibre for textiles that dates back tens of thousands of years.

And then there those special occasions who photographs seem to find me.  I had never seen a Jersey Tiger Moth until one recently flew into my studio and landed itself quietly on an old stone wall.  It stayed put for a few days, before I remembered that moths like chewing on textiles and I helped it on its way to a new home.

I have been particularly keen to keep my studio moth free as despite almost unprecedented sunshine and heat in Somerset this summer, my textile of choice throughout the whole year so far has been wool.  My latest purchase of merino fibres in delicious colours of nature perhaps makes the draw of using wool understandable.

Throughout the summer I have been 'dry embellishing' wool backgrounds for new picture work and stitching onto these with an array of wool, silk and cotton threads.  My labours of love will continue up to Somerset Open Studios 2018, when my latest nature inspired creations will be exhibited in my studio.

Thankfully the heat over the past week has subsided and I am now out and about with my camera again.  I was so excited to recently capture my first ever damselfly and with the striking name of 'Female Banded Demoiselle', it may yet come to feature in my creative stitch work this year!

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