“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”
― David Brower
Northamptonshire is beautiful, green and abundant with life. It has many villages and towns and a rich diversity of wildlife. However the scenery we usually see as we drive along the roads is often one that involves traffic, and the busy rush of the rat race. The charm of places that we live in, can be completely missed or forgotten about as we are channelled along the highways.
This summer, I rediscovered the river which is right at the heart of this county. It has a different, slower and more gentle existence that passes right beneath and besides our manic roads. The Nene river in May this year was hot and serenely tranquil, it was like being in a completely different place - another world.
A New Project based on the River...
I choose to listen to the river for a while, thinking river thoughts, before joining the night and the stars. — (Edward Abbey)
Last year, I decided that it was time to really experience the river which has always been a presence in my life growing up in Northamptonshire. The river has special kind of immutability, much like the sea because it is always there and it constantly flows to the ocean. Its meandering course is a reminder of the natural world;but it also reminds me of fishing with my father or feeding the ducks as a child.
Boarding a narrow boat at Gayton, we peacefully travelled through the Nene valley visiting Northampton, Wellingborough, Irthlingborough, Thrapston and then Oundle. Then, I rented a canoe and paddled as far as Warmington. Drawing and taking photographs was a great way to record what I saw as it allows you truly to soak up the atmosphere.
Below are some of drawings I made whilst cruising along the river...
Canoe Through Fotheringhay
One the highlights of my trip along the river was seeing the Church at Fotheringhay as I paddled past in a canoe. The building sits majestically near the river bank and makes a great subject for the first in a series of paintings based on this trip.
In the foreground of the painting is a swan drifting downstream, whilst the words from the poem ,'Summer Evening' by John Clare are weave through the picture, enhancing the sense of abundance in the environment.
The frog half fearful jumps across the path,
And little mouse that leaves its hole at eve
Nimbles with timid dread beneath the swath;
My rustling steps awhile their joys deceive,
Till past, and then the cricket sings more strong,
And grasshoppers in merry moods still wear
The short night weary with their fretting song.
Up from behind the molehill jumps the hare,
Cheat of his chosen bed, and from the bank
The yellowhammer flutters in short fears
From off its nest hid in the grasses rank,
And drops again when no more noise it hears.
Thus nature's human link and endless thrall,
Proud man, still seems the enemy of all.
This is the first in a series of paintings based on this inspiring cruise down the River Nene.
Ten facts you may not know about the Nene River and Northamptonshire.