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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 4, December 2014

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Claire Everett
Northallerton, North Yorkshire, England


Malham Cove

It could be that the watercolour itself was at least begun en plein air. Prior to that there was a preliminary sketch or two, but none survives. Already, you'd have laid the groundwork with a wash of soot or tobacco to reduce the paper's glare and serve as catalyst, when, with a few swift pencil lines you'd make light of water, water of light. Perhaps the weather was as inclement as when you visited the Tarn. A shower would not deter you, but unrelenting rain, or a sudden ice-cold onslaught, might see you de-camping in a hurry, patting the pocket-book in place and tucking the soft-covered roll of oversized sheets under your arm.

falcon's stoop . . .
the smutted sheet
unbound

But it is certain, even if you'd barely made a mark, you left with the scene deeply etched in your mind. This place where Time, that most dedicated artisan, working in limestone, took up the east and the north winds as if they were chisel and mallet, and painstakingly shaped each clint of the pavement. Next, meltwater, that smoothest, sharpest blade. And always a few steps behind like a good wife of old (though way back then, each step was an epoch), Nature set about sowing wildflowers in the grykes . . . spleenwort, wood sorrel, wall rue.

spraybow . . .
how extraordinarily light
the master's palette

This, the self same viewpoint. I know it from that stand of trees, thicker, taller now. Here, in the cool of evening, as the last of the sun pours into the amphitheatre, the eye is drawn to glissades and cascades of rock, the thumbprint of a life force. And you, too, confronted by this spectre, the ghost of a great waterfall, must have imagined a din not unlike the passing thunder of applause for a player whose hour is eternity. Now, the struts and frets of a silence broken only by wind and rain and the comings and goings of beings, human and otherwise.


Author's Note: JMW Turner RA (1775-1851), "Malham Cove."

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