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“Elves and witches would match proper in.” footage depicting the unique paradise of Sussex | Artwork

V:In 1980 my spouse Jan and I arrived in Sussex, we began driving the South Downs on moonlit nights. The white chalk roads mirrored the sunshine and made the going simple regardless of the steep drops and our cautious evening horses. When you attain the highest, you may see the lights of ships crusing up the English Channel on one aspect and the glistening countryside beneath on the opposite. It is a magical area and a beautiful introduction to the Britain we got here from South Africa. As we closed the home down the darkish lanes, the curtains have been drawn, not surprisingly, because the final evening’s riders have been smugglers, transporting French brandy from the coast to London by these deep, hidden lanes.

Sussex panorama. chalk, wooden and water, a brand new exhibition of work at Pallant Home in Chichester, encapsulates all the things I like about Sussex, a panorama I’ve now crisscrossed on horseback for over 4 many years. Eric Ravilius’ Chalk Paths captures the virtually bleak high quality of the South Downs in winter, which has been a part of the pilgrims’ path to Canterbury for hundreds of years. In Ravilious’ extremely contoured panorama, the sense of area and solitude contrasts with the densely populated villages and cities of the realm. It jogs my memory of how this place has been dwelling to humanity for millennia, the rising inhabitants finally pushing again Anderida’s wild boar and deer-filled forest, leaving the open rolling farmland we see on this image.

There may be additionally a response to the artist’s warfare work: the shortage of bushes, the barbed wire fences. Ravilius, who spent his childhood in Eastbourne, is probably finest recognized for his warfare work. Within the years earlier than his demise in a airplane crash in 1942, he produced spectacular watercolors, lithographs and drawings of warfare gear. Maybe Sussex was in thoughts, for he acted thus; the panorama he beloved was, in spite of everything, all these monstrous machines have been combating for.

An echo of the warfare… the barbed wire fences and the paucity of bushes within the Chalk Paths are harking back to Eric Ravilius’ different work. Picture: Bridgeman Photographs

This similar panorama led me to find the writers I shared Sussex with: Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, E.F. Benson, Virginia Woolf, VB Yeats, Ezra Pound, Hilaire Belloc, A.A. Milne, William Cobbett and the Bloomsbury Group. At this time, Charleston Farm, within the former Bloomsbury property, hosts an annual literary pageant that draws authors from around the globe to talk amid the aromas of hay and silage.

One solely has to learn these writers to see the affect of Sussex landscapes on them. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, the gloomy, fog-shrouded hens described by Arthur Conan Doyle are pure Ashdown Forest in winter. WB Yeats wrote that through the First World Battle, the longer he and Ezra Pound stayed at Stone Cottage on the fringe of the woods, the tougher it was to get again to the London drum. Regardless of its title, Yeats’s well-known poem “Lake Innisfree Island” may simply be about that inexperienced haven.

“The main target of this exhibition,” says Simon Martin, director of Pallant Home, “is what made Sussex totally different from different locations, these authentic components; runs to the coast, and the forest forests.’

It is exceptional what number of artists and writers have sought and located refuge in what Martin describes, fleeing the horrors of the First World Battle, Nazism, the Second and, in my case, apartheid-era South Africa. Many expats have discovered an echo of their homeland right here, from Russian taxi drivers to Lithuanian and German expats, to not point out those that moved from London to the countryside. Once I journey Sussex now, my horse and I transfer by two landscapes: bodily and enriching, lovingly painted.

“Essay in Solitude” … John Constable’s Seascape Examine. Brighton Seashore. Picture: Royal Academy

Over time I’ve heard speak of magic. There are Rosicrucians, Mormons, Catholic monasteries and retreats, Opus Dei and Druid communities inside a ten mile radius of my dwelling. I do not pay a lot consideration to any of this, nevertheless it’s laborious to spend time within the deepest reaches of Ashdown Forest and never join with one thing primal in addition to non secular.

Sussex is without doubt one of the most wooded counties in England and has its personal vernacular structure. The home oak, flint and clapboard building that sits inside this panorama of cattle, sheep and grain farming is breathtakingly captured by Yvonne Hitchens in Curved Barn, one other beautiful picture from this exhibition. It seems just like the barn itself is tucked into the wooden, an atmosphere the place elves and witches would slot in. Proven right here is the Sussex fashion of constructing, so totally different from the Cape Dutch farmhouses of thatched, whitewashed, gabled and inexperienced shutters. my childhood – has turn into a part of my grownup tradition, a part of what makes me really feel at dwelling.

Simon Roberts’ romantic image of a pair on a picnic on the South Downs, nearly folded into the embracing panorama, is titled We English 13, Satan’s Dyke, nevertheless it could not look much less devilish, though cyclists within the annual London to Brighton race would possibly disagree. as a result of the climb is killer, solely 10 miles from the end. The image jogs my memory of the walks I’ve taken right here, chased by purple Sussex colts stooping to carry my horse, and the trick of getting by the gate earlier than them.

Sussex may be very very like a seashore, a spot that lies between the ocean and the land. A lot of it lies between two large 900ft landmasses, the South Downs behind Eastbourne, Brighton and Chichester, and the North Downs, which protects the county from London’s creeping presence. The issue with the Downs is that the ridges provide no shelter from the climate in winter. Walkers and riders undress, and Jan and I settle in Ashdown Forest, the place the deep valleys and thick woods present shelter from the wind and rain.

“The texture of a fishing rod, the pull of a wave” … Seashore and Starfish, Seven Sisters Rock, Eastbourne by John Piper. Picture: Jerwood Assortment

The exhibition highlights the coast. I’ve often forged a line from Newhaven’s East Pier within the spring and summer time for mackerel, going dwelling principally empty-handed, however with the wind burning and excited to see France on the horizon. John Piper’s Seashore and Starfish, Seven Sisters Cliff, Eastbourne, brings again the sensation of a fishing rod in my hand and the pull of a wave, its summary chalk cliffs creating an nearly otherworldly sense of one thing past us. No much less atmospheric is Constable’s Brighton Seashore, an essay on solitude earlier than a stormy sea, an expertise these of us who’ve walked or walked these elements know nicely.

There’s a clearing in Ashdown Forest that I think about my “church”. As Callum and I enter this intimate tree-lined area, I ponder how few church buildings will truly welcome a horseman closing the nave to the font. Simply the faintest breath of wind above us, above the branching slopes and that single sky. The forest stands mute as soon as extra, holding the rider and his horse with a pressure nobody understands, however which pulls them again many times to this magical place.

Earlier than I understood the phrases “forest bathing” or “nature therapeutic” or the sacredness of the panorama attributed to early people, I skilled it once I rode by the canopies and beech woods I discovered in Sussex. Climbing into the sluggish ropeway, Calum leads me effortlessly up the climbing paths. The beech bushes glow with the morning mist and the rain that got here at evening, the subtle gentle now makes every tree its personal drama, every a separate character on this panorama. I take a deep breath, accepting this forest providing, this lovely, satisfying place.

Sussex panoramaChalk, wooden and water at Pallant Home Gallery, Chichester, till April 23. Julian Rupp is a Sussex writerof 5 booksThe fisherman within the saddle; Boerejood; Life In the course of the Plague; Within the secret coronary heart of Ashdown Forest. horseman’s nation diary; and to begin with catch your calamari; travels with urge for food.

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