Holme Valley landscapes series.
This series celebrates the Holme Valley and sets out to explore not only its beautiful landscapes - steep hill sides, woods, streams and rivers - but also the valley as a place of life and work. "Holme Valley" sets the scenes for the series as a whole.
The Holme Valley was an important site of textile production right through to the early 20th century and the history of this industry is imprinted on the landscape. There were around 30 mills spread out across the valley, producing woollen cloth of two main types - a heavy cloth used for uniforms and a lighter cloth for clothing that incorporated some silk .
Before the advent of industrial scale textile production in these mills, cloth was produced by weavers in their own homes. These stone weavers' cottages were built into the hillside , two dwellings, one on top of the other. "Over and under "depicts these cottages. Access to the under dwelling was from the front while, access to the other cottage was at the back , via steps in the hillside. The rows of windows were in the top room where the weaving took place - spinning and cloth weaving done by the family. When the mills opened home production ceased and people were deployed in the mills instead.
The many footpaths that can be found criss-crossing the hillsides in the valley lead down to the valley bottom from many scattered homesteads. These were the paths created by the feet of the millworkers as they went to work at the mills. Today they are still well used by locals and visitors wanting to enjoy the landscape. "Roots" was inspired by the surface texture of these paths: trees line the foot paths and the years of tramping feet have worn away the soil to expose the tangled roots of trees.
Small woods and copses are also a feature of this landscape, sustained by the many streams that run dow the hill side to join the Holme River that runs along the valley bottom. "A Walk in the Woods" (1&2) and "Bluebell Wood" were all inspired by the many walks that I took during lockdown 2020-2. Following footpaths across the valley and through the woods, at different times of year, refreshed and restored me during the pandemic. It made me remember how good life can be. The river Holme winds through the valley and I often walk along its banks. The tangled undergrowth requires closer inspection for growing In the Weeds (1 & 2) are many wild flowers.
A key feature of this rural landscape are the fields outlined on the hillsides by dry stone walls. Many are well maintained but others have suffered the ravages of time and are beginning to tumble down, returning to the earth from which they were quarried. Life in the cracks captues this process of the return to nature.
In sum: the valley is a constant source of inspiration for me and will be a series that will allow me to explore a range of techniques and quilting styles.
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