Sunday, May 23, 2021

A love of paintings - and of homemade crumble

There are many reasons to own an original work of art, but among the best are because we love it; because it gives us joy, and because our lives are the better for being in its presence. That the art might also be a financial investment is beside the point. To look every day at a painting that uplifts us is not reducible to price; its value is diminished if we relate this to money.

Over the course of my adult life I've collected many paintings—all have a story to tell. And I'd gladly relate them, were it not that Jane has brought to my study a bowl of her homemade rhubarb crumble... so tart and delicious that I need to pause a moment...

... oh boy, that’s good...

But returning to my pictures...

The one above is by the late John Cartmel-Crossley. I commissioned it shortly after moving to Wales from Northumberland.  A watercolour of the Simonside Hills as seen from the road between Rothbury and Alnwick, it's exquisitely done. If you look closely there are two tiny figures which appear in many of his works.

Nearly all of my paintings have connections with my past.  

The two below are by Richard Gowland, another Northumbrian artist, but about whom I know very little: the beach is one near where I lived and the nocturne of the Tyne Bridge reminds me of the time I worked in its shadow They were framed by a distant relative, my second cousin on my mother's side. I bought them from his workshop gallery, which if memory serves me right was near to where the artist lived. 

In preparing this post, it was tempting to reproduce the images more carefully: to photograph the pictures in flat light, cropping their frames in the way of a book illustration. But this is not how we view paintings in our daily lives. The seascape hangs in the kitchen, the bridge on the turn of our stairs—the glass on the moorland landscape reflects the coming and goings of our walk-through dining room.

I like it this way—for art is so much more than the works we see in galleries or the rarified way they present it. The true value of any painting—or for that matter sculpture, or music or literature—lies in inspiring us to live fuller, richer lives. That's best achieved by it being amongst us, making a difference every day, whether we notice it or not. 

My son, who's an architect, said of the new office I'm currently building, 'spend money on the items you'll touch the most.' It's good advice. I've owned all three of these paintings for almost thirty years and never tire of their presence. Recently I had the Cartmel-Crossley reframed; its absence for some weeks left more than a gap on our walls. 

For the art we love helps us see (and feel) the world anew. The paintings I own are each a part of my past, but they are also a spur to living; their tangible presence connects me to a world that's beyond our touching. Most of all, they give me reason to pause and savour life's delights—a sort of visual rhubarb crumble... with cream of course.


  1. Hari OM
    Very tasty!!! We definitely share an interest and understanding here. Gowland's work appeals greatly... however on researching, the only artist with that name (and also the only entry I could find with examples) was this one... if the same fellow, his work has moved along somewhat! (There was one other reference to a Richard Howland of Coxlodge - up for knifing his neighbour 8`O)

    Must compile a post or two in echo of this. The recent arrival of goods from the clear out of #15 saw the siblings return a portfolio of my work I had thought long destroyed! Painterly things are, perhaps, the most intimate of expressions... YAM xx

  2. Good advice from your son....applies to many things

  3. I have many original works of art - my first husband was a well - known artist in his native Lincolnshire - but also works both by friends and works we bought because we liked them. He has been dead over thirty years but I still look at them every day and get huge pleasure from them. A moment enjoyed is never wasted,

  4. Choice is very subjective, we put on our walls those subjects that remind us of the times then. My two hare prints by Colin Blanchard remind me of Eskdalemuir in Scotland and the Tibetan temple. But who would know that Blanchard lived in Galloway?

  5. I have mostly my own work on the walls plus a few paintings I have bought over the years. I have gone off some of the paintings I bought as what I think is great one day I do not necessarily think so the next so I avoid buying paintings at all now. I love the painting of the Tyne Bridge that you have. I used to wander down to the bridge in my lunch break, it was like one of the wonders of the world to me as a young girl in the 1970s from rural Norfolk. My colleagues in the office where I worked, Geordies, used to think I was mad!

  6. I, too, have a few original paintings but my very favorite is the one my uncle did as a boy when he was studying art. It always hung above my grandmother's bed and it is in my bedroom now. Never once have I not looked at it without pleasure.

  7. We also have a number of original paintings, mostly by local artists and they enrich our lives enormously. Of these three my favourite would be the one of the bridge.

  8. It's interesting to hear about these artworks and how they connect to you. I have some originals too and I would never want to part with them. As you said, value is secondary.

  9. I absolutely love the Simonside Hills watercolour - the way the artist has captured the big cloudy Northumbrian skies and the sense of space.
    The homemade rhubarb crumble (with cream of course) sounds good too!
    Cheers, Gail.

  10. I love crimble crumble! I like paintings too I guess.

  11. I have a few original paintings which I love. Recently had a special pastel of a country view from my childhood done by a now long gone artist friend taken part, cleaned, and new mats added etc. Have rehung in our master bedroom and how I enjoy looking at it daily.
    Your art pieces are lovely........and I wish I could try Jane's crumble with a dollop of Devonshire or Cornish cream of course!

  12. Art is such an individual taste - love your choices - the 2nd & 3rd are very strong compositions. The sky in the Simsonside Hills painting is amazing. Art, like literature, adds a meaningful dimension to our lives - especially in the year from hell we've all just lived through.

    P.S. Rhubarb Crumble is such a delight - I make a Rhubarb and Custard Cake which never hangs around for long!

  13. Art lifts us. It confirms that survival and the mere passing of time is not everything. There is more. I wonder just when I will be ready to do my oil painting of Stanage Edge. I have had the canvas for months now.