In this painting I imagined myself as a Viking, landing on the beaches of Northumberland in search of gold and glory. Which is exactly what you get in this picture: A nine year old boy, dressed in Viking garb, looking really uncomfortable at the thought of marauding through the land of the Prince Bishops with a bunch of blood thirsty Odin-worshiping thugs.
Pastel on paper
When we were kids my brother had a keen interest in railways. As well as messing about with electric model trains, making a layout with a station, sidings and landscape features, he also read avidly about the history of railways. Consequently days out were spent quite often at tourist railway sites then under construction. Wearing stout Wellingtons we would tramp around, muddy, sooty railway sites begging a ride on the footplate. York Railway Museum was not the clean smart site it is now outside the main sheds and the Tanfield railway was positively filthy. We also were lucky enough to have a Grandma who lived in Barmouth in Wales; this gave us a good excuse to ride on all the nearby narrow gauge railways that wind through the Welsh hills. I loved these days out and could understand my brothers enthusiasm and what drove the people who were helping to restore this part of our heritage with the gift of so much of their free time.
One of the high points of these days out was watching the Flying Scotsman speed past on its way to Scotland full of passengers in period costume waving at the crowds that stood cheering. Little wonder then that I produced this pastel drawing and the accompanying Stevenson’s Rocket for my brother to pin up in the bedroom.
Pastel on paper
It’s no wonder everyone was so impressed with how fast his engine could go, if it came down a hill like that on its show trial !
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Dawn Treader were, when I was seven, my favourite books. Not that I read them myself; my teacher had read the first one to the class and I had talked my older brother into reading the others. They had made the stories come to life for me and this painting was my response to the CS Lewis tales of derring-do. I can remember painting it at school wearing a plastic apron, throwing the paint on with real abandon creating large puddles and multi-coloured shoes.
It won a prize at a local fair. I don’t remember much about the art display, but the kazoo blowing juvenile jazz band with baton twirling teenyboppers all dressed in matching tasselled white outfits haunt me still.
Sadly this is one of the few first pieces of work that have survived. I must have had a clear out aged about 10 and thrown out early stuff that I thought sub-standard. It’s a shame, since according to my parents I used to draw cowboys with hats with no brim, so effectively they had Sheriff’s stars nailed to their high foreheads.