Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The glory of the garden

Here is a selection of the photos I took of individual plants at the Himalayan Garden. The magnolias were beautiful. They seem to have largely avoided frost damage this year, perhaps due to the late arrival of spring. 

Rhododendrons are the star of the show, and there were more colours and varieties than I've ever seen anywhere before.

Some of the juxtapositions were inspired, like this bright yellow tree against the showy red rhododendron.

Himalayan blue poppies, which I've also seen at Harlow Carr, are apparently quite difficult to grow but seem to be getting established here as well. 

I'm not sure what any of the plants below are, but I though it an attractive grouping. 

And of course, cherry blossom and our native British bluebells are welcome signs of spring.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Kath Khuni Shelter

The Kath Khuni Shelter is a recent addition to the Himalayan Garden - and I loved it. It replicates the indigenous architecture of the Himachal Pradesh region of Northern India and Tibet. These buildings are unique to that area, using local materials held together by wooden tenon and mortices, with rubble-filled walls that will flex to withstand earthquakes. They have layered courses of wood and stone, a slate roof and are decorated with carvings. The garden's shelter has layers of cedar, stone and slate and its 100 year old ornamental balcony has been sourced from India. The detail was beautiful and the shelter has already started to weather very attractively. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

More Himalayan Garden sculpture

The sculptures around the Himalayan Garden are eye-catching. Here are some I particularly liked.
Above is Samara (Rebecca Newnham) - made of glass over a fibreglass and steel body, and based on the helical flight of a sycamore seed.

Above is Ribbon Red (left) and Red Scarf (right), both by Carol Peace.

Below is The Swift (Hamish Mackie).

And finally, below: Pinnacle (Giles Raynor) - a copper spiral fountain around which water spins. 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Sculptures in the gardens

The Himalayan Garden (see also yesterday) holds over 60 contemporary sculptures, which add another layer to the delightful experience of wandering the paths and exploring the planting. There are several red oriental-style bridges and a Balinese pagoda. The red of the bridges is echoed by a red fibreglass sculpture called 'Wave' (Rebecca Newnham), which has earned the lake the nickname of the Nessie Lake, after the Loch Ness monster! There are also some rather attractive twisted metal fountains.

The Stone Circle (Barry Bain and Peter Roberts) is reminiscent of the ancient 'henges' that can be found across Britain. This one is made from decorative stones and old gateposts, some with the metal gate hinges still attached.

John Simpson's Fir Cone is a ten foot tall construction of Welsh slate, standing proud on the hillside.

Other sculptures are almost hidden around the gardens, nestled into the plants, like the bronze Tribal Head (Patricia Volk).

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Himalayan Garden

On the recommendation of some friends, I made a visit to the rather well-kept secret of the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, up in Nidderdale, near Ripon. It's a 20 acre private woodland garden belonging to Peter and Caroline Roberts. Over the past 20 years they have created, more or less from scratch, a specialist collection of Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas, along with other plants, trees and sculptures. It is only open to the public for a few weeks in the spring and autumn and is quite hidden away, tucked in a maze of narrow lanes, but it really is a gem of a place. I took loads of photos, though it's one of those places where a photo barely does justice to the scene.

Their rather grand house sits on a hill overlooking the wooded valley, which has several lakes and streams, affording lovely reflections and meandering paths. (The coloured discs, like lily pads, in the lake are a sculpture by Rebecca Newnham - though to be quite honest I thought they rather spoiled the lake! There were many other pieces scattered throughout the garden that I much preferred.)

The garden is still being developed and a large area has recently been planted as an arboretum, with native British trees and some more unusual species. That area runs down the hillside into a rather pretty bluebell wood by a lake.

You can take a virtual tour of the gardens via the website:

Friday, 18 May 2018

A room with a view

Actually, not technically a room... It's the view through the window from the staircase leading up to the roof space in Salts Mill. Perhaps I like it because I only get to see it once or twice a year, when the mill's top floor is open to the public. I always want to take a photo! Saltaire was looking very fresh and green on a sunny spring day, with the church tower poking up behind the trees and the old Dining Hall (now part of Shipley College) visible across the road from the Mill. The Dining Hall used to provide meals for the mill workers, all part of Sir Titus Salt's care and concern for their welfare.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

As far as the eye can see...

I'd hoped to take a walk in Hirst Woods whilst the bluebells were at their peak, but I simply haven't found time to go with my camera for an intentional photo session. I did, however, walk back through the woods with a friend one day, returning from a longer walk. I only had my phone (which is on its last legs and needs replacing) and it was a bit too sunny (!) but I still couldn't resist taking a photo or three. Bluebells really look better in diffused light rather than strong sunshine. The photo, however, does convey the lovely blue haze in the woods, with flowers stretching as far as the eye can see.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Shadows of the past

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
Leeds Photographic Society once again held their annual exhibition on the top floor of Salts Mill. It's always interesting to see work from other camera clubs and they have a high standard, though I thought there was little that was really innovative. One of the issues I have with camera clubs is that we all tend to churn out similar work, driven to some extent by what we think will score highly with competition judges: gritty mono portraits, wildlife shots, sports action, a few landscapes. Leeds PS do have one lady who produces very attractive still life images; they're a bit different. 

I was really more thrilled (as always) with the feeling of being in the raw, un-refurbished and vast space of a former spinning shed in the mill.  When I'm up there I can almost hear the clatter of ghostly machines. The sun was streaming in through the skylights, making such interesting plays of light and shade. That always appeals to me. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Postcard art

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
Once again, an invitation went out to local people to submit art on a postcard, to be exhibited as part of the Arts Trail and then sold to raise funds for The Cellar Trust, a local charity that supports people with mental health issues. I didn't think there was quite such a wide variety or high standard this year, though I still enjoyed looking at them. Many of the images I most liked turned out to be by the same lady artist. But it is always interesting to see what people can do with a postcard, and there were some inventive entries. I think my favourite was the one above, but below are some more that caught my eye.

And finally, one done by a child, I guess, but enjoyable for its simplicity and sheer character. 

Monday, 14 May 2018


Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
Sacpots are elastic, plastic plant pots, with flexible liners, designed to be filled with soil and moulded by the user to create an individual display. Versatile and environmentally friendly, they come in various sizes and a multitude of vibrant colours. They are designed and knitted by Marcela Livingston and were on sale in a garden on the Arts Trail.

Rather fun, I thought. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

The act of creation

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
There were several opportunities this year to watch artists demonstrating their craft and to explore your own creativity too, with a variety of workshops on offer.

Jake Attree, a renowned Yorkshire figurative artist was offering 'Draw Saltaire' workshops, using pen and ink, graphite or oil pastels. I believe he lives in Saltaire although his studio is in Halifax.

You could also drop in to The Craft House to try weaving or making pom-poms and felt marbles.

It was lovely seeing people sitting around the village sketching.

Don't those colourful oil pastels look inviting...?

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Marianne Springham

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
Some of the art on display is easy to embrace, whereas some needs a bit more work to relate to... Marianne Springham's work fell into the latter category for me but it was certainly educative. She was exhibiting in the Methodist Church, which seemed an unlikely setting for a giant felt heart and paintings of kittens. Perhaps I should have been alerted by the row of tiny red shoes and boots on the way in! This was a bit different...
Marianne is interested in the work of 'Outsider artists' (see HERE) and this installation was inspired by Walter Potter, a Victorian taxidermist who created whimsical dioramas, using stuffed animals mimicking human life. One of his pieces was called 'The Kittens' Wedding' and that apparently inspired Marianne's painting on show here. 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Mim Robson

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
The artist Mim Robson was busy creating pretty patterns outside the church. She was using natural materials: flower petals, leaves, seeds, stems - in a manner that reminded me of the well dressings that are common to the Derbyshire Peak District where I grew up. Well dressings are pressed into clay, whereas Mim's works were simply arranged on the ground. (Luckily, it wasn't windy.) Many of her artworks are ephemeral, inspired by land artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, and sympathetic to the surroundings, perhaps created in the woods or on a beach. They blow away, get washed away by tides or simply change and disintegrate over time, which is all part of the process. Mim also creates mandalas out of flower petals and uses henna to make patterns.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Art 2018

Saltaire Arts Trail 2018
It's that time of year again, when Saltaire is awash with bunting and artists. Although 'that time of year' was in fact, a little earlier this year... Saltaire Arts Trail usually takes place on the late May Bank Holiday weekend but this year, for some reason, it was the early May Bank Holiday. No-one was complaining since the weather was unusually glorious, a mini-heatwave in fact. It was so lovely to see the village thronged with crowds enjoying both the sunshine and the exhibitions. It is part of the tradition that some residents open their houses as mini art galleries, and there are exhibitions in the churches and Salts Mill, as well as a Makers' Fair in the Victoria Hall.

The colourful garden in the top photo belongs to the artist David Starley, a long-time resident of Saltaire, who produces wonderfully vibrant and heavily textured oil paintings of local scenes and natural subjects.

The oil painting below is by Ian Burdall, another Saltaire resident, who started out as a photographer before branching out into expressive oil paintings inspired by the North Yorkshire coast.