Day 24: pumpkins

DSC_1020I’ve been away in deepest Herefordshire working intensely on a new piece (photos here); I know that some of the emergent forms have been influenced by the old North Wood. Arriving at the Slindon block after being stuck in pumpkin traffic, I knew that this session would see great strides ahead for the developing forms, as I had taken the decision to use a cutting blade to help open up and remove a large section – about a cubic foot – between the figure of the large squatting figure and the canopy of the imagined old Northwood pollard. With a cutting disc, the surface of the harder material can be incised with 1″ deep lines, which allow it to be sheared off with a huge chisel exerting force perpendicular to the cut.

IMG_193935 visitors today were from Felpham, London, Slindon, Bognor; some sculpture followers from Kent stayed overnight in Arundel to see both sculpture and pumpkins and remarked on the poem by Belloc about the carving in the church. Many returners from the village had not seen the stone for three or four months, and expressed how the forms had changed.

2015-10-18 15.30.04The sheep a little down the lane appear to have been nattering about developments. Come and see for yourselves before it moves back toward Northwood… as the winter approaches and the tracks become muddy once again. Next carving on Saturday 24th Oct, 5 mins up from the end of Northwood Lane!



Day 4: No Man’s Land

A good forecast and I left early for Bignor Hill, intending to explore en route before meeting the London and West Middlesex National Trust Volunteers, planting at Northwood.

“In this place, when I was a boy, I pushed through a fringe of beeches that made a complete screen between me and the world, and I came to a glade called No Man’s Land. I climbed beyond it, and I was surprised and glad, because from the ridge of that glade I saw the sea.” From ‘The Mowing of a Field’ in Hills and the Sea, Belloc (1906)

No Man’s Land is well marked on a number of maps around the late 1700s, just above Dawtrey’s Hooks. But where was the glade? Scrutinising the 1897 and 1912 mapping, there was more woodland than visible today above Dawtreys, but scrubby areas show around the 210m contour due South of the peak of Sutton Down. The alternative was north-west of Dawtrey’s – the peak of Upwaltham Hill. The latter gave a view WSW but the trees of Combe Bottom obscure any distant shore. Continue reading

On Sussex Hills – a chance survival

A full text of this post in the published book.

Hilaire Belloc’s novel The Four Men was conceived in 1902 and published in 1912. Several poems – songs – accompany their walk across Sussex.

The ‘first Drinking Song’ can be interpreted as Belloc intended 120 years ago, here from the South Downs Folk Singers archive:

The poem has also been set to the Irish rebel tune The West’s Awake by Martyn Wyndham-Read, and is here rendered – with accompaniment – by Youtube’s Holecene81.

Across Sussex with Belloc – In the Footsteps of The Four Men, Bob Copper (1994) Alan Sutton Publishing

Great Dynasties of the World – The Copper Family; The Guardian article here

Please make contact if you would like a pdf chord sheet.



Slindon and Halnaker Mills

In 1913, George Wyndham MP visited his great friend Hilaire Belloc in Sussex and they travelled on to France. They talked about immortality while walking round woods at Bougival. Wyndham declared that the soul was immortal. Belloc agreed he shared this view, but only through the cold acceptance of authority. After they parted, Wyndham sent a letter:

Now I would not for the world – a phrase, but let it pass – have missed revisiting with you the woods that were part of your boyhood, and therefore – à ma guise – an index to Man’s Immortality.

Several days later, Continue reading

Hilaire Belloc & Slindon: spirit of place

A full text of this post in the published book.

A blue plaque to the writer, poet and walker Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953; seen here flanked by George Bernard Shaw and G.K. Chesterton) lies at Gumber Farm, just to the north of our Rise of Northwood location.

Remember the stone and tree planting start on the weekend of 29/30th November.

Archive of Belloc and his publications from a Belloc Society blog here.