caralockhartsmith

stories and illustration

Old Barn Door

To my amazement, I found that over the past fifteen months I have scarcely put an image on to WordPress, whereas before I used to go out walking for miles, with my camera, come home and trawl through the images I had captured, then put a few on to this site; it was like a kind of diary. I am quite a hoarder, I realise; letters, photographs, emails, thingummies, boxes, books, pictures, unsorted reference material, cards, even old newspapers (though I do manage to throw them away, these days, hoarding newspapers is not a good trait). There is so much in the world, the older I’ve got the more I realise how little I know; and behind me fragments of my life pile up, waiting to be sorted into some kind of shape.

So, this is an image that appeared among the many hoarded, and I put it up here, somewhat at random. I liked the light through the cracks. This same image I realise, was put on my website in May 2014. The words are different, the place is further away, I will let it stay. One day I will go out into the landscape again, with my camera; but at the moment, walking is for my health only; my energy is with a fiddle, a banjo, a little tin whistle. a guitar, a turquoise patterned drum, and some bears.

This image is of an old barn across the yard of an old house in the Liddel Valley, which is the place that has captured my heart; though it is only when I go back there that I realise how deep this feeling goes. The countryside round about belongs to the hawks, and the hares, and the orchids. There is a room above the barn which had old papers in it, including some of my father’s plans, though these days I don’t know what is there. Massive stone steps with no railing lead up to this room; last time I visited I think the room was padlocked, and the steps were were clotted with the droppings of barn owls, which made me happy, as barn owls are the spirit of the place. For years after my son and I left the house they disappeared; and now they are back. At dusk and even late afternoon they can be seen, flying slow and low and white, sometimes mobbed by smaller birds. Their cry is eldritch. I have a stuffed barn owl in my studio. He is called Marvin, after a magician in a book called Parchment House, which was published many years ago. My young son, who was used to me writing poems, sat down and read it, and said: “I didn’t know you could write a proper book!”

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Common Ground

A painting so much less linear than the illustrations I am working on, just a small painting, I think it is a moor in the Borders, and it is no longer summer, and there are no people. Sometimes in the country when you walk out into less inhabited landscapes, gradually your relationship to yourself changes. Any other living creatures seem to own the place, they have their ways of living, and you are a stranger, and to be jinked away from. But being a stranger feels like a privilege, and one wants to go quietly, not to disturb the natural world going about its business.

January 2, 2021 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Liddesdale

This is from a few years ago, which is not my usual practice. Lockdown has made me look into imagery, emails, letters – I am sorting out correspondence, turning up such a trove from the past. I know that many people throw things away, but I am not one of them. In a big chest, recently recovered from storage, layers of documents lie, and reading them ressurects something of what has vanished, including letters that my mother left behind when she moved down south; they are all higgledy-piggeldy at the moment, but trawling them throws scintillas into the darkness. There are letters from before my son was born. Maybe it is not healthy to dwell on the past, but then we are none of us that healthy at the moment. This photograph is from the place where my soul still lives, Liddesdale. The River Liddel (Liddle) is one of the Scottish/English rivers, though it is the Liddel Burn that marks the Border a few minutes walk from the old house where I used to live. Now I live in Coldstream, on the Scottish side, still a few minutes walk from the Border Bridge that crosses River Tweed. What will happen if we secede from England? Strange days indeed.

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Flowers of Liddesdale

 

flowers1These are a fraction of the flowers seen in over a few days staying in an old house in hill-farming country. In the arable countryside where I now live, I have not seen a fraction of this diversity. In a space of about a mile I found, without looking hard, close on a hundred species of flowers, just along the roadside. There are also merlin, deer, barn owls, hawkmoths, linnets, blue butterflies…. Up the hillsides among the stones are small flowers I have not seen elsewhere. The fields have been left to rushes once more, and many of the sheep are unfenced. The place is quite empty of people, though there are enough in the area around to keep many businesses open in the nearby village of Newcastleton. I used to live here, and was working to try and survive, illustrating books mainly, and I never appreciated the diversity of the land (I used to copy pictures of flowers out of books!) – though the barn owls were a constant spirit of the place, and to go out at night and hear the foxes barking and see the autumn moon rising enormous over the hillside is something I remember clearly. My son, when I tried to tell him the names of some flowers, said: “Don’t give me bloody nature study.” I realised that at primary school they were getting information out of books, whereas he was roaming free (accompanied by the cat) and seeing badgers, foxes, deer, the birds, close up. Going back, many years later, I see the place more clearly. I want more of the world to be more like this.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hare in the Garth, Evening

hare in the garth

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Merlin’s Crags, Liddesdale

DSCF7072

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Liddesdale

DSCF7109

August 29, 2017 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Orders

new churchyard regulations

August 29, 2017 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cattle in Liddesdale

DSCF7029

August 28, 2017 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Liddesdale: Honeysuckle

honeysuckle

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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