Old Harry Rocks and me
When I first came to live in the UK, I knew I was going to settle in Dorset and slowly I began to explore the county. Coming from a place like Malta, a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean, I was in awe of the hills, the forest, and the beautiful change of the seasons throughout the year. But most of all my artistic mind and heart fell in love with the Purbecks. Now part of the World Heritage Jurassic coast, it has been and probably continue to be so very special to me.
I can say it has served me well too. I have painted and sold more paintings of Old Harry Rocks than anything else since I’ve been here. Every time I visit that place I find myself looking, not just at some rock formation, but a stunning natural monument coming out of the azure Dorset Sea which makes me want to discover it a bit more.
There are various stories about the naming of the rocks. One legend says that the Devil (traditionally known euphemistically as "Old Harry") slept on the rocks. Another local legend says that the rocks were named after Harry Paye the infamous Poole pirate whose ship hid behind the rocks awaiting passing merchantmen. Yet another tale has it that a ninth-century Viking raid was thwarted by a storm and that one of the drowned, Earl Harold, was turned into a pillar of chalk
Whatever you believe about Old Harry, (or you can make up your own story of course!) when you are on top of those rocks you can’t help but be inspired by its beauty. I know that whenever Ruth and I go there we both want to sketch, paint, and take even more photos than we already have and get back home to paint yet another interpretation of Old Harry Rocks.
To me Old Harry Rocks are what the Water Lilies were to Monet, and Mont Sainte Victoire was to Cezanne. They never tired of painting the same subject, always trying to find something new and exciting in them. Yes, they found other themes to put on canvas, but those became a part of who they were, what they are remembered and revered for, what made them stand out as artists. I am now painting Abstracts, in all shapes and form and colour, but Old Harry Rocks will be a part of my repertoire for the rest of my artistic life.
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