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

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

Reclining on the Wall

Memories of a summer in Liddesdale, that seems so far in the past. Is it my imagination, or is there a Lowry painting with the same imagery?

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

Old Photographs

I seem to have been presented with some new elements by WordPress which I certainly didn’t mean to ask for. I like everything staying the same! How do I get back to my old trusty way of doing things? (Oh go on, read the book, not just the first two chapters). I spent yesterday looking through a chest of papers that I haven’t seen for about ten years, and I find photographs from long ago. Two things I thought I had lost in transit: a photograph of Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, taken by a photographer who worked for Faber and who gave me this copy as a present, which photograph somehow seems to have detached itself from its frame; and a photograph of myself, my grandfather, my grandmother, mother, father and little brother in romper suit in the porch of a faraway house near Chailey Common, a photograph I included in a painting but then could not find as I gave it to someone to look at and now don’t know where it is; this is a near equivalent, taken at more or less the same moment, it has always meant a lot to me, I am the little girl half-leaning against my Granny’s skirts. I also found a box of slides from 1984 which I have never seen before. And there is a letter to my mother which I cannot remember writing, saying how my young son used to call Sigmund Freud Sycamore Fraud. I never throw anything away. I don’t know why the old photograph means so much to me, it is imprinted in my heart. I look a tad dour, all the same, and was even more morose in the photograph I used for the painting. The painting is about the people in the photograph. A bientot.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | Art, Painting, Photography | , , , | 5 Comments

The Moonwuzo Painting

The Moonwuzo

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Art, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Shadow of the Geranium

 

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“Shadow of the Geranium” feels like the title of a South American magical realist novel. Maybe I should have it as the title of a book I mean to write some time with Brighton in the 60s as its setting, though I am not quite sure how I will weave in the geranium. The scent of the leaves reminds me of the terrace outside my Granny’s house in Chailey, Sussex. These geraniums are in the window-boxes outside out kitchen window, and sometimes the afternoon sun strikes the net curtains in a particular way.

shadow of the geranium

 

 

August 24, 2016 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Evening Primrose

aflower2

These flowers grew in an untended corner of the vegetable garden in my Grandmother’s house in Steeple Aston, a patch which backed on to Iris Murdoch’s garden, where everyone else trespassed except me, who went another route and was the only one who was caught and told off.  We used to make jumps down the path between the vegetables and pretend to be show-jumpers.  I had long lists of horses’ names in a notebook. Another world, another time.  I have always liked these plants, but have seen them rarely growing wild, so enjoy them each year when they flower, high up above the Tweed, a few hundred yards from the border between Scotland and England, which for the next six days at least will be part of the same Kingdom.

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Running Hare: All That Was

AllThatWas4

A hare painting for an exhibition entitled “Running With The Hare” at Harestanes Country Visitor Centre, painted two months ago but just finished now as it needs to be sent off to be framed. The mixed exhibition will be on from April 1st until May 26th, and will include painting, prints, sculpture, drawings, photography, 17th Dutch and new tiles, and textiles.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Poem from “Old Merlaine”

Fish King's Daughter

This is a poem from a book of poems that were published by William Heinemann many years ago.  This has been a grey, wet, light-starved day, so I thought a watery poem and a black and white illustration would be appropriate, while I search through the somewhat bleak, rain- spotted photographs I took today, looking for some colour in the almost monochrome landscape of the Scottish Borders.

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk by the Tweed: Berries, Birds, Broken Boxes

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The gulls have flocked inland, and are standing where Tweed water is shallow. There are no boats on the river round here, so I am the only person disturbing the birds. I like their white wings against the dark maroon of the ploughed earth, where the phacelia grew in high summer. There are boats left tied up here and there all along the river, and I photograph one of them, with its eddy of scum. I try and photograph little boats, as they often come into my illustrations (it was once remarked that the spindly oars I had drawn wouldn’t get anyone anywhere fast):

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The barley has all gone, but the stubble is still left in this field, beside the grass alongside the river which is thick and wet this afternoon, with red clover sprung up since I last walked this way:

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Swans as well as gulls stand in the shallows:

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But one swan is swimming near the edge of the opposite bank with its brood:

swans and brood

As I turn up the lane towards the little wood that leads back into Coldstream, I see the blackberries in a transitional state, and the elderberries ripening:

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And then come across something more unexpected, standing amidst the cleared clods of earth at the edge of the field:

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Some rage here, perhaps. When in Sunderland my friend Fred told me of a friend of his who, seeing Mrs Thatch once more upon the screen, picked up the television and hurled it through the window: the house was rented, the television was rented, maybe not such a good idea.  My father told my youngest brother, one sunny day: “If you go on sitting there all day watching the television, I’ll pick it up and throw it out of the window.”  My brother: “Go on then.” So the television got hurled out of the upstairs window. However… the next day the Test Match was starting, which my father had not taken into account, so we had to trail into Carlisle and buy a new television, which actually worked much better than the old one. All the same, television reception wasn’t that good in the Liddel Valley, I can remember that at one time we would take turns to stand with the aerial held out of the window to stop the picture going jagged.

Coming back through the wood, I see the rowan berries, a fine crop this year, which is reputed to mean a cold winter:

rowan

Coming out through the wood, I see theseat with its shreds of green, where I have never seen anyone sitting.

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It’s still a dim day, there is no-one around.  On the way back  I saw howdy to the horse, in the field  once in habited by the two shetland ponies.  The horse no longer has his hood on, as most of the flies have gone too.  The horse  has a melancholy expression.  It always comes up to the fence, then after a moment or so ambles off again. It does not strike me as particularly joyous:

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Its purple horse-blanket is torn. It would be happier with a donkey, maybe, to keep it company:

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I loved horses when I was young, I went from ballerinas to horses, and since I drew a lot even then, I was found drawing ballerinas with horses legs.  Not surrealist, just absent-minded. I can’t imagine any worlds I would fit in less: The World of Ballet, The World of Horses. But I still think horses are the most beautiful things, even if when I tried to sit upon them I spent most of my life sliding sideways or even down the neck on one occasion when the horse started to graze. I was a bit hopless. We went to Madame Tussauds and I threw a fit because we weren’t allowed to go into the Chamber of Horrors – the reason I threw a fit was because I thought it said Chamber of Horses.

I come back down past the cat in the window, who was in an earlier post, but instead is going to finish this one instead:

This Cat is Not for Sale

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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