Summer Evening, River Torridge,
pastel, 11 x 18
property of Mr and Mrs. J. Stilgoe

The story of this painting

If you walk out onto Castle Hill in Great Torrington, below the Bowling Green, you come to a place where you can walk down across some grass towards the obelisk. There is  a bench just there. When I lived in Torrington, in Castle Street, I would often go out onto the hill on summer evenings, and sit on that bench. Sometimes I met an elderly couple who often sat on it as well, almost as if it was the sofa in their sitting room.

Sometimes Kirby  Sanders, one of Torrington`s great characters would come by, and we would all chat together, looking down on those fields.  Kirby, who is now sadly no longer alive, was out on the hill every day,  and always ready to talk. He once told me that he had probably done more for nature than Sir Peter Scott. When I asked him how, he said that he had probably rescued about 20,000 dung beetles, by turning them over when he found them lying stuck on their backs.

One summer, there was a vixen who used to come out in the evening down there, and her cubs would play in the evening sunshine. I don`t suppose they had any idea of the pleasure they gave to all of us up on the hill, watching them. This painting is a memory of those special evenings, and although you can`t see them in the painting (because they would have been too small to show at that distance) the vixen and her cubs  were there in spirit, in my thoughts, as I painted this picture. Its proper title is Summer Evening, River Torridge, but I always think of it as “Golden Fields”.