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How Peter began painting rural scenes is simple, even if it sounds daft.
By : Deborah Susan Jones : Editor
When we first moved to Shropshire a friend of Peter's who runs a famous Tea Room, when he asked her what the Stiperstones, the second highest hill in Shropshire far into western reaches of The Welsh Marches, was like, said "It's like Brighton Beach". Then a neighbour, who was intrigued by the fact that an Artist had come to live nearby offered to drive Peter to the most direct point of access, and off they duly went one cold Autumn morning.
Little did the Artist realise what he was in for . . . . . . .
Having arrived at a suitable start point, his friend agreed to wait one hour and call the Air Ambulance if he had not had a communication within that time. He remarked to two others in the car park "he says he can't paint it unless he sees it". And so the exploration began, out of the car park, across a field, over a small bleak roadway, over a stile, up a small approach path onto what he took to be the main walkers path until, before too long at all, this ascending "pathway" soon became no pathway at all and an overhanging heavy mist descended inch by inch until it felt like he was walking into an upturned ocean. Having spent many hours previously walking the Shropshire Hills and seeing nobody the Artist was astonished when out of the mist a man suddenly appeared walking in the opposite direction! He duly said "good morning" and passed on by.
Meanwhile, "the "ocean" continued to descend and the "pathway" now resembled five miles of building rubble, blocks of rough stone presenting themselves at every conceivable angle and extremely wet and dangerous, a terrain caused by constant freezing and thawing during the last Ice Age which shattered the quartzite into a mass of jumbled scree surrounding several residual rocky tors.
He scrambled on.
He eventually sighted The Devil's Chair, the most famous feature of the long Stiperstones summit ridge crowned by several rugged, jagged outcrops of rock and gazed out over the Welsh border and took-in the amazing views in all directions, as he fully realised his Tea Room owning friend had somewhat understated the terrain because it would be more accurate to describe the surrounding area as stunning raw beauty and the Stperstones themselves as a Lunar surface!
"At this point the Price to pay for soggy paper and pencils and extreme cold and a great deal of personal discomfort had been paid" so the time had arrived to "sketch quickly and go" as is sometimes the case with painting or drawing "en plein air" and the reward in this case is the above picture, a small painting carried out as an exploration for a far bigger one.
The Devil's Chair is the largest and best known of the Tors that pierce the quartzite ridge of the Stiperstones, formed during the last Ice Age around 480 Million years ago and its summit would have stood out above the glaciers, freezing and thawing, under tremendous pressure constant;y until the quartzite shattered into what looks like "five miles of builders rubble".
At the midwinter solstice, all the ghosts of Shropshire assemble at the Stiperstones and the area is steeped in folklore and legend; "The Seven Whistlers", six birds who fly together searching for the lost of their number; which if found, would end the world, Wild Edric and his ghost army also haunt the Stiperstones to appear at times of National crisis and the area is steeped in Arthurian legend and it is perhaps no coincidence that a huge magical fish guards Edric's sword at Bomere Pool, and will only give it up to his appropriate heir . . . . . . . .
The rocks of the Devil's Chair itself were brought there by the Devil carrying a load of stones in his apron from Ireland when planning to fill in a valley on the other side of the Stiperstones, known as Hell's Gutter, but after taking rest, his apron strings broke and the rocks tumbled out and he left them scattered all over the ridge and on the longest night of the year he sits on his chair, summing all the local witches and evil spirits and they choose their king for the year . . . . . . . .
By : Deborah Susan Jones : Editor