Saturday, 20 December 2008

Walking with the expert

On Thursday I walked the Dale Abbey to Morley church section of the route with Stephen Bailey who wrote the Portway guide. We attempted to walk, talk and record which involved far too much multi tasking for me! With some serious editing, I did get some good material for the film, but still a long way to go..... I learned so much in 3 1/2 miles - it made me realise that the project is a huge undertaking, covering nearly 50 miles of the county.

Exciting news today: Art of England magazine will cover the project in their March 2009 issue, which comes out in February. The deadline for the article is before Christmas, so rushed out in the fine weather this morning for a photo shoot!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

A pint and a painting...........

The Portway was used for trade and pilgrimage for centuries, so it's important that I focus on the human element - a good excuse for a night out at one of Derbyshire's most unusual and unmodernised pubs. Sitting at the junction of the old Portway road through Wardlow, and the 'Turnpike' at Wardlow Mires, real ale is served in a cramped room of the farmhouse. A group of men who had braved the fog in a steam engine unknowingly became the subject of various sketches. It's not the sort of place where you sit with sketch book and pencil, so memory had to suffice:

The grey village of Wardlow is spread thinly along a linear stretch of Portway. The village dates from the 13th century, but the history is ancient: a Neolithic barrow was discovered when the road was widened in the 18th Century, lying a mile north east of the lookout post of Fin Cop near Monsal Head. The sunset from Monsal Head is the subject of one of the first Portway paintings completed in the summer - the sun sets right in the notch of two hills - a perfect composition.

Sunset from Monsal Head

Welcome to The Portway Project

In Summer 2008 I began work on a major project to record in paintings the ancient 50 mile route that crosses Derbyshire from Mam Tor to Stapleford. For some time I had been searching for a trackway to record, but those that I knew had no historical basis. Stephen Bailey's Portway walking guide, published in May 2008 (, introduced me to the perfect route and has proved invaluable.

I have decided to start a blog of the project since the pace is rapidly increasing, and the idea growing in many directions.

An exhibition of the paintings will take place at Tregoning Fine Art, Derby, in March 2009, and will be accompanied by a colour book and a short film. (

Above: Dale Abbey Hermitage (oil on canvas, 40 x 50cm)

Yesterday I met Stephen Bailey, who kindly commented on work so far. It was great to discuss the route with the expert, and we have decided to walk several sections together to record material for the film.

Work so far has concentrated on short sections of the route, particularly around Dale Abbey and Ashford in the Water:

Above: Ashford in the Water (oil on canvas, 60 x 30cm)

Visit for more background info and images