view from Mill Street Great Torrington  
View from a Mill Street garden on a summer evening,
Pastel  25 x 16
The story of this painting

This is one of my most favourite paintings, and although it is of Torrington, it has links with Ireland too.  It is  is a memory of an August evening spent in the garden of some friends of mine, Paul and Lynda, who live in Mill Street. 

In April 2004 they came to Ireland with me, and we stayed in Ard Carrig, the bungalow at Adrigole that my parents used to own. Much as I love Ireland, for various reasons I hadn`t been back there for at least ten years.  We hadn`t been there very long when another very good friend, Ann O`Sullivan turned up at the door. She had been a child when I first went to Ireland, and it was her father Michael who had run the atmospheric monitoring station that my father, James Lovelock, set up in Ard Carrig back in the 70's. Michael had sadly died a couple of years before. Ann came in struggling under the weight of a large cardboard box full of Guinness.  “I`ve brought this for Christine,” she said to Paul, who had not met her before, “to welcome her back to Ireland.”

We had  a short but wonderful holiday. Each evening we sat on the verandah of the bungalow, looking out across Bantry Bay to the mountains on the peninsula opposite, watching as the evening sunlight lit them up. We would just sit there quietly, not even talking, maybe looking at books, but mostly sipping our evening Guinness and enjoying the view.

Later that year, towards the end of August, I went out to Torrington, and stayed the night  with Lynda and Paul. It was a warm evening, and we ate supper in their garden. This time I brought the Guinness, and we sat there reminiscing about the wonderful time we had spent in Bantry Bay earlier that year.

The view was different, instead of looking across a wide bay, we looked across the narrower valley of the River Torridge, but in both cases we were facing south. The sun was setting in the west out of our view, and we watched the shadows lengthening. The trees and the hill across the way caught the golden light, and I caught the memories that became this painting. One of the reasons I love this painting is that - although it isn`t photographically accurate – I feel it captures something of the most wonderful view that you get from the top or the sides of Castle Hill.  If you know Torrington, you will also recognise the Leper fields at the right of the painting.

Later, as dusk finally settled, a hot air balloon passed quietly overhead and floated eastwards into the gathering darkness. Perhaps one day that will become another painting (although I may need another Guinness first.