Thursday, 9 May 2013

Southstone Rock

Southstone Rock, Shelsley Walsh, Worcestershire

I had a childhood memory of visiting this place and wanted to try and find it again in February. I knew roughly the area where I thought it would be: in one of the wooded valleys that line the hills here. However, after walking along several footpaths I was puzzled by the lack of finding anything that resembled what I was recalling from my childhood memory. I took another path a short distance up another valley but again I couldn't match memories with reality and with what I could discern geologically on the ground. On returning home and doing some research on the Internet I realised that on this last path I had only been about a minute's walk away and if I had been looking in the right direction I would have seen what I was looking for. I was also annoyed with myself for not realising that the local church was made of rock from here and if I had looked a bit more closely at the stonework when I visited it on the same day I might have realised I was on the right trail.

A few days ago I took my daughter to find this unusual rocky outcrop in the woods. It suddenly seemed to appear out of the trees and my daughter was quite taken aback and a little apprehensive by the rather dark towering piece of geology. It was made out of tufa which is a rock formed when calcium carbonate dissolved in ground water precipitates out (often on mosses and vegetation) where a spring emerges from the hillside. The rock is light and strangely textured. Apparently monks and hermits have a history of visiting here in times gone past. I will probably make another visit sometime and explore it further when I'm on my own. It is interesting how my memories of it from 30 or more years ago have changed. I knew it was in this area but I hadn't remembered it being so big which is why I probably missed it earlier in the year. I was looking for a small dark outcrop only about 6 ft high, not something 60ft or more high - my line of sight didn't reach up into the woods above me. In the painting the small pink figure is my daughter who had just plucked up courage to cross the small wooden bridge over the stream and follow me up to the rock.

This picture was done on the iPad by overpainting a base photograph. I worked on the front elements first and then steadily moved backwards on subsequent layers. Probably around 4 hours worth of work. The style could almost be the beginnings of a photo-realist type of painting. I have always had an interest in such work and perhaps one day I will apply my mind to doing something in that style.

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