A new exhibition featuring the portrayal of Dartmoor in art between 1750 and 1920 has just opened at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. It is part of the National Park’s ‘Moor than meets the Eye Project’. The Exhibition runs until the 31st March 2018 and is free to enter.
Prior to the mid 18th century Dartmoor was a place to be avoided it was variously described as ‘sqallida Montana Dertmore’, ‘the dreary mountainous tract’, ‘awful’ and ‘horrid’. However landscape artists who had been inspired by their Grand Tour expeditions to Europe were drawn to Dartmoor and the Lake District when the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars made Europe inaccessible.
This exhibition tells the story of how via the work of landscape artists Dartmoor evolved from ‘squalida Montana’ to a ‘Wild and Wondrous Region’.
It is very good and features dozens of paintings, sketches and illustrated books and includes artists such as JMW Turner and the Widgery’s (William and Frederick).
There is an accompanying book by Peter Mason (which is very good)
I particularly liked the Exhibition as it features a number the places I was involved with when I was the General Manager for the National Trust on Dartmoor, such as this Lutyens water colour of his proposed masterpiece – Castle Drogo.
I also love this watercolour of the Teign Valley by John Glover painted from just below Prestonbury Iron Age Hill Fort. How the scene has changed since 1829, Castle Drogo is now visible just beyond the middle peak, the Fingle Bridge Inn is now set just to the right of the bridge and the Mill and Mill owners house is now a ruin (destroyed by a fire in late 19th century) in the bottom left corner.
There is a William Payne painting of Brent Torr from around 1790 situated in a pre-enclosure landscape, i.e. it is all open – no hedges or fields – how things change.
I was also struck by how few of the paintings featured sheep …… maybe sheep weren’t considered a good feature in a landscape picture or maybe I’ve just become obsessed with sheep numbers on Dartmoor (see here). Either way – there should be more sheep!
This evening I was invited to attend the preview of an exhibition of paintings and photographs by my friend, fellow photographer and Fingle Woods devotee Paul Moody.
The publicity flyer gives you all the details – note though it ends on the 14th May – i.e. this Saturday. It is well worth a visit and is free.
Paul Moody explaining his philosophy
I love his capture of the light here in Fingle Woods
A cracking image taken near Lustleigh
I hadn’t met James Tatum before this evening – his evocative paintings capture the spirit and weather of Dartmoor and Devon.
As part of Castle Drogo’s restoration project a new set of installations have been put up in the Teign Valley called Teign Spirits. The modern photographs give a sense of the history of the Valley along with an insight into the Drewe family. In total there are 10 photographs created by Mike Smallcombe a Devon artist who works in London. Here are four of the works.
Just up the River Teign from Fingle Bridge is the charcoal maker hung high along the riverside path
Detail illustrating the life and times of the charcoal maker – this used to be a major industry in the valley
To the right of the path near Fingle Bridge is a photo depicting the aftermath of the fire at the nearby Fingle Mill – the miller’s wife and children have just escaped the fire. The ruins of the Mill can still be seen near to Fingle Bridge on the way to Fingle Woods
By the salmon pool by the weir is a photograph of the Venetian chandelier purchased by the Drewes whilst on their honeymoon – it has been photographed in the formal gardens so as to ‘blend the inside and outside’.
On an island near the weir is a photograph depicting Blackenstone Quarry where much of the stone for Drogo was quarried. The photo shows the daughter of a quarryman bringing him his lunch.
Another installation near the turbine house shows Julius Drewe salmon fishing. This is not one of Mike’s pieces but has been produced as part of the restoration project. On a good clear day you can see this piece from the Castle
The Iron Bridge over the salmon pool – a classic turning point on a Teign Valley walk.
There are 6 other Smallcombe photos on the Drogo Estate – for full details and a map visit the Drogo Visitor Centre. Well worth a visit – great photos and a great walk.
Pam Thomas our shop manager in Widecombe has been working really hard over the winter transforming the first floor of Sexton’s Cottage into a new Gallery floor – a place where Dartmoor and Devon crafts people can exhibit and sell their work.
I spent a couple of hours there yesterday with my friend Jon Hare of Full Fat Photography taking some shots of the new gallery. I got in late last night and am off again in a minute so here is my starter for 10 – a series of pictures of the type of things that we are now selling. More details will follow elsewhere soon. I posted 65 pictures on my Flickr account here and 12 photos follow below.
Amazing – brilliant stuff Pam – a superb new part of our shop full of locally made things
There is a new exhibition on at the Princetown Visitor Centre – run by the Dartmoor National Park Authority and admission is free. It is called Ancient Dartmoor and contains photographs of Dartmoor’s archaeological remains and ruins by Adrian Oakes and Anna Curnow. There are also some prints available for sale.
Full details in the poster above
The exhibition still includes the time-lapse video of Dartmoor which I have written about before – see here
There is also one of Peter Randall Page’s sculptures in the Visitor Centre – Dartmoor Song – I have highlighted other pieces of his work previously – see here and here
Last week I went to a couple of places which host Peter Randall Page’s art – he is one of my favourite sculptors and of course he is a Dartmoor resident – more details here.
Three pieces outside Plymouth University (opposite the Plymouth Museum)
Three in a row
‘Passage’ in Whiddon Deer Park – in the Teign Valley opposite Castle Drogo
We held our Devon General Manager’s meeting at Buckland Abbey yesterday. At the end of the formal meeting we visited the Abbey to see the Rembrandt. Press here to read the story of the ‘discovery’ of the Buckland Rembrandt.Here are a few photos.
Fully restored and looking great – the Rembrandt we never knew we had!
Part of the interpretation – the story behind its discovery
The painter’s colours
Tools of the trade
Part of the exhibition encourages you to take a selfie with Rembrandt – here’s mine! You then upload it to a special Flickr gallery to become part of the story.
We also had a whistle stop tour of the newly opened top end Cider House Bed and Breakfast business – see here – wow! And we had a quick visit to the lovely Cider House gardens.
The Cider House B and B is fitted out and decorated to a very high standard
Room with a view
Gargoyle in the garden
A garden full of flowers – a tranquil oasis
Full set of photos from the visit here.