Posted 19 Aug 2010
My wife & I are back from a week’s holiday in County Durham. We booked a farm cottage on line & it turned out to be a great place with wonderful views. There was a disused quarry above the property, so we poked about in there looking for rocks & fossils. We visited a lead mine & walked down into the first few hundred metres with a tour guide – fascinating. I managed to uncover some Galena (Lead ore) & Flourite mineral specimens from the mines washing floor. Galena is one of my favourite minerals, so I was very happy!
The next day we visited Hadrian’s wall, & then Haydon Bridge, which was the home of the 18th Century English Romantic painter John Martin. I had no idea that he lived so close to our cottage, so I was very excited to visit his “stomping ground”! He was the only painter that I studied in Art History classes that really inspired me. I always wanted to draw & design, rather than to study other painters work. But John Martin’s work was the closest thing to fantasy & imaginative work, which is where my own passions lay, at that time. On seeing his Biblically epic oil paintings I sat up in class & took notice! I visited the Tate Art Gallery in London as part of my art history course & remember standing in front of several of his paintings (The Great Day of His Wrath & the Plains of Heaven) & being really fascinated by them. Strangely enough though, I have no art books on him & I didn’t know anything about him, even where he lived. Hence my great surprise (& delight) when we found out that he lived just a few miles from where we were staying in Northumberland.
St. Cuthbert’s Church, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, where the painter John Martin worshipped.
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