An intimate view of a small corner of the Lake District is the focus of a new exhibition opening shortly at the Heaton Cooper Studio Archive Gallery in Grasmere. Among the pictures are 54 views of one mountain, Grasmoor, shown in every light and season.
Cumberland Drawings features pastel drawings by artist Tor Falcon of the area around Loweswater in the north western fells, where her husband’s family have a farm. The pictures are of hills and water, at all times of the year, showing a very personal approach to the landscape, and especially the giant bulk of Grasmoor which can be seen from the farmhouse.
Tor describes herself as an artist who walks: “Walkers cannot help but be aware of the make-up of the earth beneath their feet. Of the changing sounds, temperatures and light levels as they move through a landscape. They pass sheltered spots where tender plants flourish and others where trees are brutally sculpted by the prevailing wind. A walker knows the real distance between here and there.”
Drawing is always surprising
And drawing, she says, sharpens looking: “Every aspect of the landscape in front of you must be seen and must be considered. The spread of the boughs of a tree, or the profile of the riverbank, or whatever, must be repeated by your hand. It must be felt. Drawing is always surprising, things are often not quite how you thought they were. I learn something new every time I go out drawing.”
Tor first came to the area 30 years ago when she met her husband, who has family at Loweswater. And it wasn’t exactly love at first sight:
“He showed me round, took me to the lake, up the fells, looking for crystals in the disused mines, picking bilberries and fishing. He showed me all the things he loved about this place. And for a long time, it always felt like his place. We’d row up and down the lake, fishing for char, sometimes for so long that I thought I’d die of boredom. Going down to the river on evenings when the midges were terrible.”
See the landscape differently
But Tor says that when their children got older and she started to take herself off to draw, she began to see and move about in the landscape differently:
“I began to see it and inhabit it in my own way, looking at shapes, colour, plants and light. Seeking places to draw that offer shelter in the winter or shade in the summer. Finding the best place to see the midsummer sunset from, or the perfect spot from which to draw the January full moon rise. There are things, like the lone thorn at the bottom of Low Fell or the sagging zig-zag of wall behind the house that I’ve drawn over and over again. There are places that I’ll never tire of, like the curve of the fold of the ground above the beck.”
L-R: Grasmoor in the Snow and Maggie’s Bridge, both pieces by Tor Falcon – photos by the artist, used with permission
Tor studied Fine Art Painting at Norwich School of Art, and her previous projects include:
- 2014- 2015: Peddars Way. Exhibition, and publication of book in London in 2016.
- 2017- 2018: Series of South Downs drawings, shown at Glyndebourne both summers.
- 2016 -2019: Rivers of Norfolk. Exhibition, and publication of book, at Norwich Castle Museum Art Gallery in 2019 and in London in 2020.
She is currently working on a project about the moon.
Quiet and subtle pastels
Becky Heaton Cooper, the director of the studio and gallery, says of Tor’s work: “I like the sense of passing through the landscape, and I love the luminosity the pastels provide”. Becky is the great-grandaughter of the landscape painter Alfred Heaton Cooper who founded the studio, and grand-daughter of William Heaton Cooper, also an eminent mountain artist.
Julian Cooper (Becky’s uncle) is Britain’s foremost living mountain painter and is curator of Tor’s exhibition. He says:
“The visual language of Tor Falcon’s quiet and subtle pastels could be seen as archaic, reminiscent of the Nash brothers, Eric Ravilious or Edward Bawden, but she attends so closely to what’s in front of her that it doesn’t seem second hand at all.
“The places she depicts in her new work are all found within a mile of the house in Loweswater, and the inventive pictorial devices she uses show how the most ordinary and the familiar can be seen afresh, only made possible because of her deep knowledge of the place and of her ability to inhabit it in her own way. The 54 views of Grasmoor seen from the house form an installation in themselves, and point to exciting new possibilities in her work.”
L-R: Highcross and Lowfell, both pieces by Tor Falcon – photos by the artist, used with permission
Cumberland Drawings opens on 22 September and runs until 22 November.