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November 13, 2017
As part of the process of re-igniting my creativity to actually make some art again (and because I’m too bastard tired at the moment) I’m sorting through my photo sets. Here are some nice photos of owls and other birds of prey taken at one of my favourite places: Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre in the New Forest.
We all have annoying habits, my family as the mental six legged consolidated entity that they are have the habit of having EXACTLY the same holiday every year. It’s nice to do the same thing repeatedly until you are no longer aware you are even doing it. Or from another perspective you can really get to know a place far more deeply and richly than on a single visit. You decide.
As part of our pre-ordained holiday process we visit Liberty’s on the first day of our holiday (followed by lunch with my family who live nearby and a trip to the local farm shop to stock up on food for the week). I like it there, it lacks the sleekness of many modern tourist attractions and gives the impression that it’s real purpose is the wellbeing of the animals rather than the entertainment of the humans, for this I salute them. They have a lovely selection of birds of prey of various sorts (I’m afraid much as I love wildlife I’m terrible at remembering what half of it is called so refer to pretty much everything as “Terry”). There’s also the reptile room, also wonderful, I again lack the mental prowess to remember what’s in there outside of “Lizards”.
TheChild loves it there, mainly because he adores animals. TheWife loves it because they have a “Little Owl” YES that is actually a type of owl. Look it up. The gift shop is not overwhelming and they make a nice cup of tea. It’s pretty much a perfect day out for a small child who likes owls. Although I’ve never been too keen on trying wildlife photography it seems a waste to not take a couple of pictures while a small child excitedly drags you on to look at the next feathered beast. Is it technically wildlife photography if they are in captivity?
Here’s a small selection of photos from Liberty’s taken during our daft Autumn holiday in 2016.
August 24, 2015
I remember being about eight or nine years old and staring intently into this picture for what felt like hours. Of course being eight it was probably more like three or four minutes but either way I remember it pulling my attention for a decent length of time. I think it was the first piece of art that ever connected with me, I was fascinated by it, I wanted to know where it was and what was outside the edges; what was over the hillside, what was going on outside the frame, was there some sort of magical kingdom just out of sight (I was eight, give me a break), was it windy, how cold was it in those hills. Most of all I loved the little group of rocks in the centre of the lower third, to my tiny imagination I could see a big stone giant’s head lying there asleep, the rest of him just out of shot. I’m sure it doesn’t look like that to anyone else but it became so ingrained in my mind that even as an adult I still see it. I desperately wanted to visit this place with it’s hills and moors and sleeping giants although was maybe a little cautious of the giant. Not much has changed, although I’m a little more realistic about giant aspect.
Over the years I forgot about the painting, we moved house a few times, and presumably it got packed up and then never unpacked again. Then a couple of years back I remembered it existed and asked my parents about it, neither had any memory of it and so that was it.
A few months later my father had to clear out his house and showed up on our doorstep with a carload of precious things (random tat) to look after, amongst the family photos, old lamps and schoolbooks from another age was the watercolour painting of the sleeping stone giant. In my memory it had been a beautiful near photo-realistic image of a rolling hillside, the reality is different but I still love it.
I asked my father where it had come from and if he knew where the subject was. Apparently, during the Second World War my grandfather (Cyril Barker) had run/worked in a shop called Widgers on Barnstaple high street in Devon. They had sold hardware (glass, paint, wallpaper, etc) and as side business using the materials they sold had framed pictures for local artists. The artist had bought the painting in to be framed and never returned to collect it. The likelihood is that the subject is somewhere on Dartmoor. The picture was handed down to my father and now to me.
It’s not the best painting in the world but it means a lot to me. I’d love to know who painted it and where it is set. It reminds me of the rural solitude of my childhood (in a good way), something I still strive for. I like to think of the artist sitting alone for hours on some deserted moorland in Devon, blustery clouds playing havoc with the light while he tries to capture the sleeping stone giant before he awakes.
Should you happen to recognise the landscape please do let me know where it is, as it’s probably on Dartmoor there’s a chance it hasn’t changed much over the years.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
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