Friday, 27 January 2012

Mam Tor, Derbyshire

Last week I drove out to Castleton and took in some of the breath taking views.  I decided to visit some of the '7 Wonders' of the Peak District, so named by Thomas Hobbes, which I am currently painting for my next exhibition. 

Mam Tor, Derbyshire

Its known as the shivering mountain and is constantly on the move, the road beneath it was closed in the 1970's because of repeated landslides which means that the only access from the north end of the Hope Valley is via Winnats Pass, which means 'Windgates'. 

This is some of the most stunning scenery in Derbyshire and it was incredibly cold when we visited.

Winnats Pass also has its own Murder Mystery Story about two lovers who were murdered for their fine clothes and £200 while eloping to the Peak Forest.  It all adds to the moody feel of driving down the sunless pass before emerging to the sublime views of the Hope Valley.

A very cold Winnats Pass.
 When I was 6 years old, I visited Derbyshire, travelling from Anglesey during one of the hottest summers, Ladybower reservoir had dried up and we visited all the sites, Monsal Head, Chatsworth and the Hope Valley.  On our arrival in Derbyshire, the heavens opened on our canvas tent and in true Enid Blyton style, we set about singing 'The sun has got his hat on... hip hip hooray!' and it worked, the sun came out and we were spent the next 2 weeks sweltering. (Thanks Mum, for remembering this!)

Alphabe Thursday - A day late... J - An a bit of creative writing to go with it.

Julia sat and took another bite out of her limp lunch, the token piece of healthy rocket hanging over the edge of the crust, and balanced the book alongside her plate. The book was easy to read, easy to follow and made it all sound so easy. It had sat for a couple of weeks on the bookshelf, sandwiched between Susan Jeffers and Julia Cameron, hidden where she knew no one would bother to look at it.

It felt like a she was about to embark on climbing Everest without an oxygen mask. And in trainers. She would frequently daydream back to the days, when cycling 8 miles home from the office had been a downhill free pedal, or further back when the stand on your pedals, thigh muscle torture of hills had made her burn with pleasure or running several kilometres had been a meditation on repetition. Or the pleasure of feeling every muscle in her body ache from 50 lengths of the pool had made her collapse into bed with physical exhaustion.

But now.

Childbirth, alcohol, prozac, closely followed by divorce and a life on benefits were displayed on her hips for all to see and judge her by. Unable to reach those peaks of physical activity, Julia sought solace where she could find it. Between the pages of a vast library of subjects, art, philosophy, identity, personal development, cookery, paganism, christianity and exercise. Bloody exercise that over the years had become her nemesis. From her sofa she could read about all the subjects and interests she loved. However, this did not transform into actually doing and the longer she digested these tomes on life, the less she actually lived it.

She had however, lived the life of the dieter, from slimming clubs to amphetamines to bulimia and regrettably none of these winning the competition for her sylph like form and her head remained crownless, leaving her stand on the nhs spotlight of 'obese, increased likelihood of heart disease'.

She didn't want the narrative of her life to read like a Hattie Jacques biography, with descriptions of voluptuousness and larger the lifeness. She wanted a Trinity or Lisbeth Salander description and the realisation that reading these descriptions was not going to metamorphosise these lean muscular figures off the page and into her reality.

Reading and consuming would not make her reality that different. She had to take her trainers firmly by the laces and assert some authority over them. She had to live.

The book (still reading between the lines) insisted she went for an actual walk. Encouraging words of inspiration assured her it was the place to start, the dog raised its eyes in hopeful agreement.

'I suppose,' Julia mused at the depressed dog, 'a good place to start would be with getting dressed...'

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Next Exhibition


An Exhibition of Mixed Media Paintings by Christine Gray at The Crompton Tavern, Derby

In 1626, Enlightenment Philosopher Thomas Hobbes, toured the Peak District in the company of the Second Earl of Devonshire. He described the places he visited as 'Wonders' and was inspired to write the poem, De Mirabilibus Pecci, which was translated to English in 1678. This poem inspired early tourists to visit one of Britain's most popular destinations.

I have followed in Hobbes footsteps and explored the areas that Hobbes enjoyed, using a mixture of collage, paint and drawing, I have painted his favourite places in the Peak District. Hobbes's 'Wonders' included Chatsworth House, Peak Cavern, Tideswell and Buxton.

I have also included some of my favourite places in the Peak District and the UK, ranging from Belper where I now live, through Matlock to the White Peak, to some favourite places from my native Anglesey.
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Saturday 25th February, 7.00 – 9.00pm at The Crompton Tavern, 46 Crompton Street, Derby DE1 1NX. Opening times: 14.00 – 23.00 (weekdays) 12.00 – 23.00 (weekends).  They also have their own blog here:

Red Ruff will be singing their 3 part harmonies. Red Ruff is Jen Aitken, Sue Devine and Nansy Ferrett.

They got together early 2011 just because they all love singing... also because they love big boots and red hair!

Red Ruff do a mix of their own material and covers: folk, jazz, blues and rock. And make people smile! Go to their website to hear them sing: