Mach Loop

A defining experience of any visitor to the wilderness of North or Mid-Wales is that of a first visitation of the RAF. It is of course the noise that first greets you, and as the thing passes, the explosive crunch of the air being rent apart. The interaction between this, the landscape, and its birds…


The Hollow Mountain

In this remote and wild area of mid-Wales, nothing in the landscape is quite as it seems. Where dense conifer plantations hug the valleys, once was temperate rainforest. Rocky outcrops and cliffs, the product of slate mining rather than glaciers. Quiet villages, full of the ghosts of the many thousands who once worked the land…


Epiphany

It is Epiphany, and there is a quiet spot off Calderstones Park in south Liverpool where the faded trees of each Christmas are assembled for recycling. The sight of local residents dragging aged fir trees through the streets is common and draws to mind images of Wenceslas and his servant, familiar from the many beautiful…


Call of the Curlew

No other British bird has such a distinctive call, one which is often described as a liquid, bubbling, trill and most evocatively – plaintive, a word that is so seldom used in modern speech to be almost synonymous with this species. Perhaps the sound of the curlew cannot be dissociated from the land, for very…


Hale, Mersey, Full of Grace

Cass Art Space, Liverpool, UK 9th – 22nd January 2017 Why do certain places appear to have a tangible, yet indefinable sense of significance? Contemporary artist John Elcock examined this phenomenon with an exhibition of new paintings at Cass Art Space Liverpool, which responded to Hale village through its landscape and remarkable birdlife. Hale, Mersey,…


Podiceps Christatus

The interaction of birds in a ritualised and choreographed, yet innate, manner is a wonder to behold. The fact remains however that the courtship display of the great crested grebe is also beautiful. Do the birds recognise this as such? This painting seeks to communicate some of the quiet dignity of this miraculous behaviour and…


Phalacrocorax carborundum

It is a wonderful thing that the glossy plumage of the Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is a remarkable match to carborundum (SiC), and that the two share such a black sheen, metallic, almost other-worldly. That they almost share a taxonomic name is another delicious conceit….


Wood, from Charcoal

As the title suggests, this large charcoal study returns the wood to the material from whence it came. It is a like an allegory for the entire site and its setting in the bleak landscape of the marsh, compounded by its very inaccessibility. Yet one must be ‘drawn’ back there, again….


Cleit with Gannet

Cleitean (pl.) are small stone chambers unique to St Kilda. There are around 1,200 on Hirta, more on the surrounding islands and stacs, and whilst there have been many fanciful ideas regarding their original purpose they are known to be to simple dry stone structures which the islanders used as storage for foodstuffs such as…


The Cave Dweller

At this time of year, the sound of autumn is for many characterised by an elusive chattering and ticking from deep within the thicket or hedge. The call of the Wren, explosive in its nature, belies its tiny size and is a hint to why for many thousands of years it has held an elevated…


Turdus philomelos

Smaller passerines appear to have richer songs. Those blessed with a particularly fine voice are blesséd indeed. The repeated phrases of the Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) are an example of this, offering an enigmatic and persuasive presence in woodland, particularly on a fine evening, and suggestive that their voice is compelled by joy as much…


The Decoy

I have been revisiting this fascinating landscape feature throughout the year and have come to know something of its moods as well as its many guises. It is a cormorant roost, a scheduled ancient monument, a hidden place and one of Britain’s last remaining duck decoys. Ironically it is at once a lure to death…


Setophaga pensylvanica

A warbler of the New World sings in the Adirondack forests. A warbler flits in the bushes of Fetlar… Old World meets the New in a remarkable and fragile moment, a miraculous journey of 5,000km from a wind-buoyed soul that weighs a mere 10 grams. The moment is wonderfully captured in the official description of…


One Fifty Gallery

Eight contemporary artists exhibited at R Jackson and Sons Ltd in 2016 to mark the famous artists’ suppliers 150th anniversary year. One Fifty Gallery ran from 9 July – 16 October 2016 and featured eight visual artists working in Liverpool. each of which had been given a two week residency in the left hand storefront…


Plegadis falcinellus

This is the first in a new sequence of works which are a culmination of much thinking of late. Patient and careful observation of birds over many years has brought its own surprising revelations, of significance beyond the mode of mere depiction for the artist. I now understand a possible route to help crystallise the…


Currus aurantiaca

The title of this piece is a conceit inspired by the Orange Hawkweed wildflower whose cheery flowers are often found emerging from road verges and scrub across the British Isles. In this hidden location on the banks of the Mersey an abandoned vehicle has emerged, incandescent in its own happy colour, in a quite beautiful…


The Megalithic Shore

The shoreline is littered with sculpture; cast concrete and complex shapes in brick, the ensemble carefully assembled by the vagaries of time and tide. Only in walking a landscape and spending patient hours in pencil, pen and ink is one party to the quiet dignity of an otherwise chaotic scene. The whole always seems purposeful,…


The Cormorants of Utrøst

Words that are a contemporary take on a legend far older. For those experienced in the alter ego of the North Sea, its benign tranquility – I hope this makes some purchase….


Epiphany of Hale Marsh

The yellow stalks of the marsh reeds shake in the wind in late winter. This landscape is hidden, yet in plain sight. For those who have witnessed it, no introduction is needed. The gloomy skies and a biting wind will be all too familiar. It is the 6th January and the arrival of the kings,…


The Oglet Stones

Only the passage of time gives us the privilege to see the glimpses of light that linger yet from the War years. In all the terror of industrialised slaughter comes an occasional passive ingenuity and creativity that is a counterpoint to the darker sides of man’s nature. We stumble across these as if groping in…