Today, I find myself reflecting on one of my favourite paintings from the 'Northern Lights' series 'Northern Lights #240' featuring the historic fishing village of Robin Hood's Bay. This particular piece holds a special place in my heart, as it captures the essence of the Northeast Coast of the UK, a region I absolutely adore.
The Power Of Our Senses
The historic fishing villages of Staithes, Robin Hood's Bay, and Runswick Bay have always fascinated me, and my autumn visits to these places have become a ritual to recharge my creative spirit. The sight of rooftops overlooking the sea, the smell of coal fires lingering in the air, and the warm glow from sodium lamps create a unique atmosphere that fills me with joy and inspiration
A Mysterious Encounter
The creation of this painting began during one of my morning walks along the seafront in Robin Hood's Bay. As I strolled down the main street, I encountered a scene straight out of the 1800s – a fisherman seated on the doorstep of a quaint cottage, pipe in mouth, and rugged features that spoke of a bygone era. He acknowledged me with a nod before vanishing inside, leaving behind the ghostly presence of a character from times past. You can see the steps where he made the fleering appearance in the foreground of the original painting...
In translating this moment onto canvas, I chose to exclude the fisherman himself, feeling that his inclusion might appear too staged and obvious. Unfortunately, I couldn't capture his image on camera before he disappeared, but the memory lingered and inspired the painting with a sense of nostalgia, including the traditional fishing boats at the edge of the village.
A Unique Perspective
The decision to incorporate tourist figures taking photographs in the foreground adds a dynamic layer to the composition, contrasting the historical with the contemporary. I've always enjoyed playing with unrealistic perspectives in my work, and in this piece, the houses at the forefront lean precariously, creating a tension as if they might tumble into the waters below at any moment....
Illuminating The Scene
The enduring charm of the village, still illuminated by sodium lighting, became a focal point for me. Paired with the blue evening light, it bathes the scene in a unique ambience that drew me in during the six months it took to complete the work in oils. This painting, with its crooked narrow streets and tilted houses, has become one of my favourites in the 'Northern Lights' series. I made a limited edition series of gicleé prints of Northern Lights #240 from the original, one of the largest prints in my collection, and a firm favourite with collectors
The next chapter of artistic inspiration
I can't help but anticipate my next visit to Robin Hood's Bay. The allure of the crooked streets, the timeless atmosphere, and the possibility of encountering the elusive fisherman once again make me eager for the next chapter of inspiration in this enchanting coastal village. Until then, Northern Lights #240 remains a testament to the enduring mystical charm of this beautiful place. Check out this article by Living North Magazine on planning your perfect weekend in Sandsend, Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay.