Before finishing my critique of the ‘new’ Sutton Hoo, I would like to insert a few notes about a selection from the many other events I have been to and things I have seen during an autumn dominated in terms of time by looking after some of the Rare Breed sheep from the National Trust’s flock whose summer home is on Orford Ness. The Ness has been flooded for several weeks now and for a time we took some of the refugees rescued from it. All are now off the Ness and parts of the flock are distributed over several places in Suffolk and Essex, including Snape Warren where we perform our twice-daily duties.
Above right, part of our reduced flock of 20 (3 Manx, 6 White-faced Woodlands, 11 Hebrideans, in the background), led by, above left, Jesus and her two lambs; and, below, Woodlands being selected by Andrew the NT shepherd for removal to pastures new.
It is a delight and a privilege to be working with these lovely creatures, but they do take up a lot of time, particularly relative to the limited daylight hours at this time of year. Still, keying this on the eve of the Winter Solstice, what a invigorating thought it is that from tomorrow the days will be getting longer.
Talking of Winter Solstice, I repeated my mistake of recent years of putting a couple of paintings into The Cut’s open exhibition at Halesworth, now open and exhibiting until Saturday, 11 January. My main painting is called ‘Black Winter Solstice’, an overtly gloomy work expressing my own gloomy state of mind in the autumn of 2019:
Above top: ‘Black Winter Solstice’ hanging to the left of the window in The Cut, December, 2019; below, the same in better lighting.
My other painting is an older one not previously shown at The Cut: ‘Slashed Red’, an abstract collage which was great fun to make and which is full of painterly innuendo:
Partly because it is unlikely that either will sell, it should perhaps be recorded that recently two of my other paintings have found a new owner:
They make a contrast: on the left, a small. impressionistic but figurative version of the view from the bridge of the quayside at Snape Maltings at low tide; and, on the right, a geometric abstract created in Michael Horn’s studio three or four years ago.
And looking at that quayside reminds me that I’ve had several more looks at the ‘ship art’ etched into the fabric of St Bartholomew’s church, Orford. I noticed on my favourite column between the nave and the north aisle a rather prominent fish:
I suspect that image may well have been unconsciously in my mind when I found myself doodling on a photograph in the travel section of a newspaper:
Anyway, about 180 degrees round the column from the Orford fish, I almost convinced myself that, among a palimpsest of scratches, I’d found not just a new ship but two ships, one etched on top of the other:
If you accept the two vertical lines as the two main masts of two different ships, two prows of two different ships, one on top of the other, emerge from the linear complexity below. I’ll see if I can take a better photograph on my next visit. Meanwhile, to remind us of what an unambiguous ship looks like, here is a new photograph of an image which has already appeared in these pages:
And lo and behold, even this well-known image now, under good cross-light, appears to consist of a round-bottomed boat cutting across a flat-bottomed one. Orford never fails to give: I went from the church down to the quay and was just in time to catch the lower parts of a double rainbow shimmering and then fading over Orford Ness:
The third vertical on the right is the, rather surprisingly still standing, lighthouse on the far side of the Ness.