I thought I would write a little about the historic mill where my studio is situated, Higherford Mill, Barrowford, Lancashire. Whilst once of a day workers in the mill would toil away at the cotton looms, now they toil away creating various works of art.
Higherford Mill was built by a wealthy local man, Mr Christopher Grimshaw in 1824. It was designed as a water powered cotton spinning then weaving Mill. It suffered a bad fire a few years after it was built and was partly remodelled . In 1932 it had steam power installed to supplement the water wheel to improve power to drive the looms.
This combination of water and steam power in the Mill was quite rare and helped to secure its future when after the looms finished working in 1971 it later became due for demolition.
The Heritage Trust for the North West, and local support managed to secure funding for the future of the mill and they acquired it in 1999. Future successful funding bids, enabled the building to slowly become a space for creative industries.
Today there are over 20 units and a central atrium, where exhibitions and events are held on a regular basis. I am tucked away on the first floor of the Mill and have a lovely view over the river. Standing outside the building looking up Pendle Water we can see the picturesque medieval pack horse bridge and the seventeenth century cottages along side it.
Looking up Pendle Water from outside the mill
If it is a nice day I walk along the river by the old water races that fed the water wheel, there are sometimes Dippers in the water and if you are lucky a Kingfisher. Its a lovely place to get inspiration for my bird art and reminds me how lucky I am to be so close to the countryside.
If you would like to find out more about the artists and future events at Higherford Mill please visit its facebook page here or blog page here
A few weeks ago I was approached by an American lady asking if I could make her the American version of the UK Kingfisher. The Belted Kingfisher is a similar shape to ours but with slate grey markings on its back rather than the azure blue, and a white front and white band around its neck., the name I think must come from the blue or white band around its neck. Other than the different apparent markings, behaviour and habitat of the bird seems pretty similiar to the UK one, living next to rivers and lakes.
I was happy to oblige as I love creating new birds, and the Belted Kingfisher is a stunning one. I chose to make the female, as it is more colourful than the male with rusty markings on its under chest. As I get a lot of viewers to my Etsy shop I wondered if it may be wise to add more US birds in the future, apparently a lot of states have a bird as their emblem.
Although I love the birds I see locally, some of the US birds are truly awesome, the colours are so much more colourful than ours generally I think. But we have enough here to keep me busy, I want to do the green and great spotted woodpeckers next which have lovely plumage.
Anyway all went well, and the Belted Kingfisher is winging its way across the Atlantic Ocean probably as we speak. I will be taking further orders on it in the future, it takes a couple of weeks to make, on and off.
Here are some pics of work in progress and the finished item.
The finished article..
Avro Vulcan XH558
Saturday 10th of October and an opportunity to photograph the Avro Vulcan XH558 (Vulcan Bomber) on one of her final flights which will end later this month. This particular flight covered northern England and southern Scotland, taking in local town Barnoldswick for a flypast of the Rolls Royce aerospace factory.
The delta winged jet powered Vulcan Bomber has had a long and varied history and it certainly drew in the crowds and created some parking chaos up at the vantage point of Letcliffe Park.
Not too far off schedule she appeared in the distance coming from a north westerly direction. Hoping for a photograph at distance showing some surrounding countryside and also a close-up shot, I thought my 70 – 300mm lens would be a good choice. The distance shots were quickly in the bag before in no time at all she was almost level with us flying from left to right then in front of us banking over to change course and head off in a south westerly direction. This made it easy for a good close-up but it was a hazy sort of day and as you can see below, the background is rather, well, meh..
Bird Egg Coasters
I have been busy dreaming up new items to add to my Etsy shop, and realised that a lot of people may not be able to justify buying Art for arts sake.
I know how they feel as I love to buy some beautiful piece of Art work that also has a practical purpose, or useable art.
So I have been adding pieces that feature photographic copies of my originals that can be used for something other that just to be admired, hanging on the wall. David already has a range of mugs with his beautiful images of birds on them, the flying Barn Owl being particularly popular.
New coffee mugs.
I decided what is good for the goose is good for the gander so to speak. So I have done a few coffee mugs and coasters featuring some of my birds, I’m quite pleased the way they have turned out actually. I think the small garden birds look really good!
These are ideal as gifts for a house warming gift or nature lover and completely original. Of course they are also dishwasher proof.
So now you can bring the wildlife into your kitchen every time you enjoy your favourite cuppa. These are £12 + p&p from my online shop. Please click on my Etsy shop at the top of the page to order yours for Xmas.
Happy nature watching!
Pendleside Vintage Tractor Run 2015
Its been a quiet few weeks so just for fun I’m posting a few pics from a recent annual charity event for cancer care. I believe there was approximately 175 participants for this years Pendleside Tractor Run and I photographed quite a few of them on Blacko Bar Road in Roughlee.
The post title is a play on words but speaking of “street photography” I’ve stumbled across a wordpress blog by an event and street photographer called Matt Hart. I’ve never really had an interest in that particular photographic genre but after spending most of yesterday reading his blog and studying his images “street” does now have a certain appeal, to me at least! Matt has sold off his pro Nikon gear and invested in the Fuji X series cameras and lenses. The quality of images from those small mirrorless cameras has to be seen to be believed. The Fuji cameras also offer a great saving on weight which would be good when carting gear up places like Pendle although I don’t think they match a dslr for action/wildlife photography just yet but hopefully that time could come soon. Anyway, onward with a small selection of pics..
Would be a crime to convert this next one to black & white..
When we visited Orkney in May/June, we loved the different bird life we saw there, especially the seabirds around the dramatic rocky coastline.
But what we really wanted to see was the Puffins, we had done a little research and it seems these birds liked certain points on the Island more than others. The more windy and exposed the cliffs were the better it seems.
We first went to the Brough of Birsay, we had to wait for the tide to go out before we could walk over the causeway to the small Island. The ancient Viking settlement and graveyard was fascinating to walk around. Due to the safe position overlooking the shore you can see why this spot was chosen in an age where it seems battles were never far away.
Windy and exposed was certainly a feature of this rocky outcrop, where it looks like one side has sunk down whilst the other was jutting up and out into the North Sea. We battled up the hillside against the wind and walked around the top edge of the Island, where apparently the Puffins hang out on the cliff edges. After scanning the cliffs for about an hour we saw… one! Oh and a feral cat, which may or may not be connected.
The next Puffin adventure was to be the northern Island of Westray about an hours ferry ride from the mainland. We set off nice and early and first walked around some of the archaeological sites along the bay, this was brilliant as a team had had just uncovered a stone age well on the beach, still filling with Crystal clear water. Then it was off to see what we had come for, so we hopped back on the bus down to a spot on the coast known for Puffins, by this time it was very windy and starting to rain a little. There were various rocky stacks standing out from the cliff edges, and after binoculars were trained on the right spot, sure enough there were some Puffins. Not lots of them but enough, it was a joyful sight to see their clown like faces and made the weather trying to blow us over seem insignificant. Apparently the best time to see them is early in the morning or evening when the males are leaving or entering the burrow. Also, we were a little early in the month another week or so later and there are more to see, but we were happy we had met the little chappies even if it was through the binoculars.
Puffin – Westray, Orkney
So I have been keen to make my artwork into one of these birds ever since, and at the top of this page is the finished bird, it just needs its little wooden sign on the top to add yet. But I really enjoyed the process particularly the last bit where I added the details on it’s distinctive eye and beak which really brought it alive. It will be on display at a show we are doing at Scorton Village Hall, Lancashire this Sunday 23rd of August. So if you fancy coming along please do, lots of talented artisans will be there. Click here for more information.
Anyone who’s a member of the RSPB may have recently received through the post their quarterly copy of “Natures Home” magazine. Along with free admission to all of the UK’s RSPB reserves the magazine is a perk of being a member of said organisation. Back to this in a moment…
Now, as one who likes to get out and about as much as possible I’ve noticed that on the nature front things are cooling down. Birds are no longer singing to hold a territory or attract a mate and the frantic to and froing (is that a word?) feeding the young ones has mostly finished as they’ve fledged to make their first flights into a new wide world. It’s usually around this time that I start to wonder what to look out for and where my next half decent photo opportunity is going to come from?
This brings me back to the RSPB magazine I mentioned at the start of this post. Inside, there’s a section called “Your View”, which contains a selection of photos sent in by the magazines readers. In this new edition the winning image is of a rabbit taken by a chap called Paul Dimitriou – nothing special about a rabbit you may think? Well, this image (in my humble opinion) shows how with good composition and lighting and also in this case excellent timing can yield a prize winning photo, I wish I could link to the article so you could see it. The image is in portrait orientation of a young rabbit standing on its hind legs, sniffing at a stray grass seed head, presumably about to eat it, that’s about all that’s in the picture other than grass and out of focus nettles. It’s a very worthy winner in my book, if anyone’s reading this and have seen it I’d love to know your thoughts?
So the next time you or indeed I see a common rabbit or something similarly overlooked, don’t let the possible opportunity pass by. Paul Dimitriou will be glad he took his opportunity, the prize of £850.00 pounds worth of high spec Leica V-Lux f2.8 compact camera will soon end up in his hands.
The picture at the top of the page is one of my better rabbit images, there’s nothing much happening but I like the fact that there’s 4 of them looking relaxed and all facing the camera (sort of)…