The Reason We Need Art In Our Schools – David

Landachre Bridge - over the river Barle on Exmoor - oil painting on canvas

Did you see Ed Sheeran on television speaking about the arts in schools?  What a breath of fresh air to see someone who gets it, who has some understanding of how art benefits the country financially, culturally and humanly.

Let me explain my background and how I arrived at similar views.

In my teens I trained as an engineer, later for my career becoming a telecoms engineer.  When I was at college I would look at the art students and would think what a waste of money, why not close it down and spend the money on important manufacturing and engineering works, something that would benefit the country.

Relax at Withypool Bridge - Exmoor
Relax at Withypool Bridge – Exmoor

Of course, I have come to understand that this was a very narrow view, but never the less some 40 years later a very popular view among our politicians.

Meeting Melody when I was just 40 has changed my view and given me different insight into the hidden values of art. Ed Sheeran also spoke of the financial returns that art brings to the country, I am somewhat aware of this, but it is not my main concern, it would be interesting to know what the financial benefits are, but not today.

So, what have I seen over my years as a photographer and supporter to Melody?  What I have noted that in general terms when I met people as an engineer I would talk about things, problems and solutions.  We did not enter other areas, who are you, what do you think, how do you feel and so on, these are still areas new to me and still somewhat out of my comfort zone.

What I noticed when I have worked in our gallery or studio is how different the conversations are.  These may be the same people I have encountered in a work environment, but now we are somewhere else, something else is going on and someone I have never known is emerging.

Quite often I have seen people suddenly overcome by emotion, tears appear and somehow or another a few colours on a canvas have connected with their subconscious to expose and perhaps bring healing to troubles and difficulties.  I keep thinking of things as I write this and I am reminded how we were approached by a local hospital to supply art, this wasn’t just to make the place pretty, this was the stroke and dementia ward and studies had shown how important colour is in aiding recovery and healing in these circumstances.

Pink Tarr Steps - landscape painting in oil on canvas
Pink Tarr Steps – landscape painting in oil on canvas

So, what are my thoughts in this?  In very simplistic way I think it is how the brain works, we can view the brain as being two parts, the dominant side which is our day to day and the artistic side, which I think for many if not most is the less dominant.  I am still an engineer and I think things through simplistically, but it seems to describe what I have experienced.

In our day to day we deal with pressure, life, problems, we get up and go to work and it seems our society leaves little space for the artistic and yet to do so leaves us unbalanced measuring ourselves and society against a distorted set of values.  Perhaps there are a lot of issues in this that need exploring, one sees people struggling with stress making ends meet, they are doing all that society demands but never achieve a sense of peace or happiness.

Yesterday I had a funny conversation with Melody, I asked her what she would want to happen if I came home and found a box too big for her to move at the bottom of the stairs.  Her reply is still causing me difficulties to comprehend, she said she was more interested in me being empathic than in getting the box to the top of the stairs.  Of course, my engineering thought is that we need to get the box up the stairs and solve the problem.  Later when she came back in the car with the seat belt not working, we both sat and cried, and I told her how I understood the upset and emotion that this caused when she couldn’t take her mum shopping, she loved it, repairing it was incidental, but it did allow her to go shopping with her mum, Melody wanted me to add that I have embellished this a little we didn’t really cry, well she didn’t.

In another anecdotal way I see it that we are a society that has focused on exercising our right legs while neglecting our left, our society wanders around with a limp always going in circles.  So, like Ed Sheeran I wonder if it is possible for our politicians to get out of the materialistic circle they are forcing us into and to realise that life is about more than this, it is about our care for the society we live and for each other, about service and not just profit about the person and our humanity.

My daughter who did teacher training in Sheffield described how a lesson consisted of 55 minutes of crowd control and 5 minutes of teaching, except when she introduced some element of art when the class would become manageable, surely this must be well known and worth consideration.

So, I do hope his voice is heard and I do hope other artists join in speaking in support of what he has said, and all this comes from a reformed engineer.

Not entirely randomly I have included pictures of bridges, Pink Tarr Steps an ancient clapper bridge on Exmoor, Landachre Bridge a lovely sweeping bridge, both of these by Melody and finally Relax At Withypool Bridge a black and white photograph by me.  All three are bridges over The River Barle and are within a few miles of each other.  I thought mixing pictures by Melody in her colourful arty style and a b&w photo by me in my engineering style symbolised the connection of two sides of the river, the arts and the material world and perhaps they can be linked.

Life of an Artist and Photographer in Exmoor National Park

Melody and David

Melody Hawtin B.A.Hons  – Artist

David Hawtin – Photographer

So here we go, Melody and David with some subjects to get started on.

  • Poetry
  • Art History
  • Exmoor National Park
  • The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Poetry

Melody has always written poems, something she inherited from her father, and something that goes hand in hand with her paintings and her whole connection with art.  One could say of Melody that she is an holistic artist, everything she does relates to her love and connection with art, so whether she is painting, taking photographs, decorating the home or even cooking a meal, all of these things and more involve her love of art and creativity.

Often, when Melody returns from her morning walk, she will have a few lines or verses of how the light, sky, sea or land has captured her imagination and it is in this that a painting may be forming within.

Melody has and underlying theme in her paintings of Hope and Restoration and this can also be seen within her poems, a heart for humanity and individuals, a message that the journey isn’t yet complete.

This is a growing selection of Melody’s poems and thoughts, just something more, another glimpse into Melody’s heart.  She hopes you enjoy the poems and her art.

Art History

Melody studied art at Winchester School of Art where she received her degree in studio and art history.  For Melody Art History is as important as painting, she has an extensive library which she reads and adds to regularly.  Art History is a major influence on Melody’s work and she will often spend weeks reading and studying before a new painting emerges.

Melody has several projects on the go and will be adding articles about various artists as the mood takes her.

Exmoor National Park

It’s where we live, the landscape and coastline are stunning, we have the second highest tide swings in the world and the sea cliffs are the tallest in England, combine that with the light and the colours of Exmoor and you have an idyllic home for any artist or photographer.

Come With Us To Exmoor - I just love the grouping of the red deer in this photo, it could not have been better posed
Come With Us To Exmoor – I just love the grouping of the red deer in this photo, it could not have been better posed
Purple Headed Mountain - landscape painting in oil on canvas
Purple Headed Mountain – landscape painting in oil on canvas

So, between us we have so much to share and enthuse about and as we embark on this we look forward to the journey.

The Lost Gardens Of Heligan

Set in Cornwall between St Austell and Mevagissey this is a lost and forgotten garden first established during the Victorian era.  We both love it, the restoration has opened a garden of interest, with walled kitchen garden and all the Victorian skill to grow fruit that just didn’t belong in this country.  Artistically there is so much to enjoy, wandering around, getting lost, finding yourself somewhere unexpected.

Finding A Friend - Melody finds a lost friend at Heligan
Finding A Friend – Melody finds a lost friend at Heligan
The Gardeners Tool Shed in The Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Gardeners Tool Shed in The Lost Gardens of Heligan

It is probably one of our favourite locations helped in that there is so much in the area, Charlestown that features often in the television series Poldark, The Roseland Peninsular with lovely coast also Melody has memories of places her father talked about, where he swam or visited as a boy.

We have now had three long stays at Heligan and have lots of photos and sketches to work on.