Sketches from Hastings

I’ve lived in Hastings for nearly eight months now, and I am still continually struck by how beautiful it can be. Travelling around, and coming home, I welcome the sight of the sea, and the rise and swell of the East and West hills.

Not had much time to do anything but work and catch up with life, but here are a couple of quick drawings I did months ago and have just got round to finishing off. The first is Pelham Crescent, the street where I live, and the second is what used to be Broomham Hall, now Buckswood School, where I work. More to come, hopefully.

Pelham Crescent, Hastings. Leila Battison, 2013.

Pelham Crescent, Hastings. Leila Battison, 2013.

Buckswood School, Guestling. Leila Battison, 2013

Buckswood School, Guestling. Leila Battison, 2013

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Radcliffe Camera in Pen and Ink – A tribute…

… to the last eight years of my life.  And it has taken me nearly a year to get round to finishing it, what with that pesky thesis getting in the way.  Anyway, in the vacuum-like calm of the post-thesis lull, I finally got round to tuning back into Radio 4 and picking up my Stabilo again.

Radcliffe Camera, Pen and Ink on paper

Radcliffe Camera, Pen and Ink on paper

 

The Radcliffe Camera, affectionately known as the ‘Rad Cam’, is one of the most iconic buildings of Oxford University.  It is a reading room of the Bodleian Library, being chiefly the home of antiquated law and sociological texts as far as I know.  As a result, I, as a scientist, was treated only to the subterranean delights of the Racliffe Science Library, and none so internally or externally picturesque as the Rad Cam.  Nevertheless, as an undergraduate I found several excuses to work in there whilst revising for finals.  The silence in there is oppressive, and personally not conducive to concentration, as I contemplated the changing pitch in readers’ footsteps as the perused the shelf.  At least I went there, and I spent many more hours working on it, than I ever spent working in it.

 

 

Anglesey, Portmeirion, and a new artwork

A few weeks ago, after coming back from my journalistic summer, I embarked on
hopefully the final piece of fieldwork I will have to carry out for my thesis.

My three-year-and-two-month (and counting) doctoral research has been very heavily field based, and I have had the opportunity to scour the rocks in northwest Scotland, south Wales, northern Ontario, and eastern Newfoundland.  My latest trip was to one of the less glamorous locations – Anglesey.  My intended destination was the happening town of Cemaes and its nearby bay, where I hoped to find some excitingly ancient evidence of continents colliding and crumbling.  The fossil-bearing rocks I was in search for formed before the first animals and were once attached to part of South America.

I organised it at pretty short notice, and didn’t have time to organise a proper field assistant.  So I took… my mummy. Here she is:

Mummy admiring some rocks

She was a very good field assistant, quite apart from the trendy fieldworking handbag.  She didn’t answer back, provide any ‘outsider insight’.  She did a spectacular job in sitting on rocks, showing mild interest and making sure I didn’t fall in the sea and drown.

As we were such an efficient fieldworking team, we finished everything I needed to do in minimum time.  We had a spare day, and we decided to spend it at the nearby Portmeirion village on the mainland.

Portmeirion, known to most as the setting for 1960s psychological thriller The Prisoner,  was the brainchild of the absurdly wealthy and deliciously eccentric Clough Williams-Ellis, who supposedly built it to resemble an Italian village.  The setting certainly suits, and if you ignore the biting wind and harsh north-Welsh accents, the hillside settlement is truly idyllic.  But the village is not entirely Italian in its design.  Alongside the traditionally brightly coloured Italian townhouses and belvederes, the Town Hall has a gothic-art and crafts feel, owing to many of its architectural elements being scavenged from an abandoned manor house.  There is a soft-plaster roundhouse that is only missing a thatch roof to set it apart form its Cotswold counterparts, and the main ‘piazza’ is dominated by a grand Bristol Colonnade that features its namesake in style and stone. Williams-Ellis should be given extra credit for creating an image with so many individual style elements, but which still fit seamlessly and harmoniously alongside each other and the dramatic setting.

If I was left wanting at any juncture, it was that the village presented a perfect facade, but that was all it was.  The majority of the buildings that had not been turned into shops or resaurants were roped off. The Town Hall apparently boasts an impressive plaster barrel ceiling, but visitors get no further than the doorway.  Most of the individual cottages are rented out to holiday makers, and I am sure this is a valuable and much0needed source of income, necessary for the upkeep of the village.  But to the day-visitor, it can make for a slightly frustrating barrier.

Regardless, my mummy and I had a lovely day, and we had lovely lunch and coffee overlooking the lovely estuary. It was a beautiful day in early November, and one of those golden days that stick in the memory.

So being a lowly journalist-in-training and particularly strapped for cash, I decided to make her a birthday present that reflected that perfect day.  I gave her this:

Portmeirion (c) Leila Battison 2011

Portmeirion (c) Leila Battison 2011. Pen and Ink on Paper

You can see the Bristol Colonnade centre left, and the roundhouse bottom centre.  I am pretty pleased with the result, I really enjoyed doing it, and it was a new experiment with a chinese caligraphy brush and indian ink. Completely different to my usual style, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.  I will be doing more like this just as soon as I find some time!

Mummy was delighted with it and showed all the neighbors.  I am just happy to have been able to record my marvellous trip in my own special way.