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A Softer Landscape

...continued from Part 1


Detail of Copperbeech


and real. Summer and autumn


Copper Beech felt x12


 Red Currant Leaves in Autumn

From trees to leaves

And in our own garden looking at Leaves

a felt using much cutting and re-felting made for a charity auction in aid of trees.


real Leaves swept onto a piece of white plastic


Felt from this  Swept Leaves


A tempera painting of a Pile of Leaves, framed size 72cm 82cm

and next.


The felt which came from it.

Heap of Leaves 2001


Compost Buckets and bucket with leeksII rain drops and wet reflecting sky


Lillies in Compost bucket featured again with round bunch of lilies. Oil on canvas


Lillies in Compost Bucket 2001

Our garden and home made conservatory made out of discarded windows have been a fruitful source of inspiration. It is there, in all lights and times of day, and has had its many faceted portrait done in a variety of media, tempera, pastel, oil, drawing media and felt. Here are a few Real details of it in ever changing lights:




Harvest Studies 1992 Tempera on board


Conservatory times of day

 light, vine and condensation in the conservatory


Conservatory I x12


Conservatory x12 Tempera on boards


Light and Vine Felt 1995


Hydrangea and Tulip. egg tempera


 Vine in Conservatory 2002 pencil on paper



Flowers in Conservatory egg tempera


Windows Detail matrix 2001 egg tempera 50cm x 40cm


Conservatory  Felt Marix looking through kitchen window into conservatory, light coming through and onto a wall


The felt, Light through and on. felt 1997 86cm x115cm


Sandstone Maryport Rocks ink pen and Wash.


Sandsone Sea Triptich oil on board 91cm x 183cm

Beginning in 1996 I began a body of work which I called “.......Shoreline of Cumbria” and showed first at the Beacon in Whitehaven, then in a show in the Crawford Gallery in Marylebone Road London. Much time was spent working among the sandstone rocks of Maryport beach, interested in the way the tide wears away the rocks.


The exhibition is of a body of work produced over the last nine months during Visual Arts Year an award from the Northern Arts I selected places on the Solway coast to draw and paint; notably just north of Allonby, my nearest point and thus an area I have known over the last twenty five years. The beach, though recognizably the same, alters from one day to the next by the tides shifting, covering, exposing: poignantly noticeable to someone who is happy to draw a patch of stones. Drawings and paintings in oil in situ and, much later, a triptych of felts was derived from one painting.

Moving down the coast, the sandstone rocks at Maryport, below the Roman fort and museum, were fascinating for their formation and tidal carvings, and the majority of my drawing time was spent here. Later, in the studio, I worked on three felts from this subject: two small framed felts and a large, complex felt hanging.

Further south in Workington I began work in response to the cliffs of steelworks slag and the shore below with its giant boulders of rusting metal; a man-made shore, hard underfoot, patchwork pavement of pig iron, brick wall, slag and tiles; an intriguing place where the industrial past is allowed to become part of the landscape and be worked on by the sea. There is evidence of this from Whitehaven through Harrington, Workington and to Maryport. Though I began some drawing, I have not yet done justice to my reaction to these places and so, after the exhibition at the Beacon, will be continuing with the work.


Sandstone and Sea Enamel I

Working in enamel is a spin-off from a Commission which I will talk about later


sandstone (real)

please note the central foreground rock which stands a little higher than the rest.

The following are slide studies taken of the tide playing round this rock.


Sandstone Rock and Tide III felt 1998




Sandstone Rock and Tide 8 70cm x 88cm


Sandstone Rock and Tide I


Sandstone Rock and Tide in natural wool colour

And the felts which came from these 71 72 73. Many of the felts in the exhibition here are from this series of the rocks at Maryport.


Sea and Rocks 1998


Pebble Sand and Sea 1996 Allonby, Beach sand and retreating tide Tempera on two boards


And Beach Sand and retreating Tide 1998 in three felts.

I suppose it was the Shoreline theme which led me naturally to looking at other areas of water: Near here at Bassenthwaite and the river and in Norway


Ouse Brig 2002


Sea Norway 2000 A pastel


Bassenthwaite nr Ousebridge pastel 2003


Light on water Noregian Sea I 2004  a Felt 122cm x 94cm


Norwegian Diptich, water reflections 2004 two felts

I have tried to give you an idea of my kind of subjects and concerns, which I suppose are really only visual descriptions of what and of how I see. ‘Ways of seeing.’ The choices made along the way are what it is all about.

JC 03

I would like to finish with a comment I made to some feltmakers at a conference some years back but which I still try to hold to myself: ‘I firmly believe that drawing, painting and observation have contributed more to my work in felt than has the medium itself, or rather they have allowed me to continue with felt beyond the point where I would otherwise have left it, by suggesting avenues of inquiry. I am sure that all feltmakers of however long acquaintance know of the excitement of discovery and the beauty which the medium brings, so easily, and will agree that a balance is required between allowing the medium its head and making it do what is wanted. An argument against the use of felt is that it ‘gives’ of itself too much, and therefore, if reliance on that ‘gift’ is too great. all work in felt becomes similar, banal. It must be made to behave, beautifully why not, but in a controlled way. It must be fed with ideas, not allowed to be fixed in its own past. Felt is a brilliant teacher; it tells us of colour mixing, it tells us of graduated colour, it tells us of collage, it shows us that develoment can, if necessary take the form of destruction and reconstruction. They are valuable lessons, but too many of these things together can become a riot of decoration. What is needed is a reason for being, a simple statement.’

Jenny Cowern 2004



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