Sunday, 5 October 2008

Etchings of nature

August in Wiltshire (1976) by Robin Tanner
Below is an extract from the writings of Robin Tanner's wife, Heather:-
"Wiltshire has the best of three worlds - Downs, Cotswolds and level pastureland. It is the first of these that is best known outside the county. For one thing, it is the most spectacular: everyone loves a 'view'. From the heights above Bratton or Cherhill stretches the squared pattern of field and farm till the generous hedgerows merge into the distance of forest. A Wiltshire landscape must have downs somewhere in the picture - if not in the foreground, then on the horizon, with their beech coppices and their white horses. Theirs is a beauty of curves - folds of velvety olive hills spilling over into the plain; the sweep of plough furrows; the windings of the ancient trackway following the ridge. Here there is perpetual wind, whistling through the twisted thorns and the dried kexes, bringing uncannily near the sound of bleating from pastures far below. Isolated from contemporary mankind one is nearer to early man, who, if he came back, would find comparatively little change in the immediate surroundings of chalk and flint, barrow and dyke and treeless open fields."
Extract taken from An Exceptional Woman -the writings of Heather Tanner (published by The Hobnob Press)

Wicket Gate (1978) by Robin Tanner

Autumn (1934) by Robin Tanner
Robin Tanner (1904-1988) was a Wiltshire artist and teacher. He was as interested in teaching as he was in creating his own art. He married his teenage love Heather Spackman (1903-1993) in 1931 and they enjoyed a partnership rooted in shared philosophy and love of art, craft and the natural world. They lived their lives together in Kington Langley, near Chippenham - where Robin Tanner taught at the Ivy Lane School.
Much of his work now forms part of the Tanner Archive in the Crafts Study Centre at the University College for Creative Arts at Farnham. I understand there is also work held at the Devizes Museum in Wiltshire which can be accessed by special request.
I first saw, and fell in love with, Robin Tanner's etchings in a small exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Because the work is susceptible to fading it was displayed is cabinets which were light had to be activated to view.