Back with a Bang! – Part 4

Mother Nature is the original artist and her creations are the purest forms of art. Everything from the sky, the earth, the sea, the rocks, the stones, the soil, the fallen leaves and even the spider’s web in nature provides us with phenomenal inspiration.

An artist can impersonate Mother Nature by reproducing her as she appears in reality or can just take visual cues from her varied forms. When the artist studies, observes and gets influenced by natural forms and phenomena, then nature becomes his or her most treasured muse. Nature not only provides inspiration, but also many of the mediums that artists use to create their masterpieces such as wood, charcoal, clay, graphite, and water. 

Nature is all around us and that means so is art. But in order to get inspired by nature, one needs to spend time with her. In today’s digital world of virtual realities, we seem to have disconnected ourselves from the natural world. For an artist, this can prove detrimental.

I too found myself guilty of this crime. So, I decided to unplug myself, turn off the idiot box and my laptop and go outside to tune into my surroundings. I decided to feel the wind’s brushstrokes on my cheek, catch a glimpse of the rainbow, get an earful of a gurgling brook, smell the roses and get a taste of Mother Nature’s harvests.

So here I am, with the last edition of my 4 part series about art in the UK. This one is an ode to nature, the ultimate artist and her various sights and sounds that I had the pleasure of experiencing in this beautiful country.  So read on and feast your eyes on some stunning imagery!

The Stonehenge

“To be the agent whose touch changes nature from a wild force to a work of art is inspiration of the highest order.” – Robert Rodale.

I wanted to observe Nature and apply every little element of hers to my art. And what better way to do this than to go back to our roots, our origins and our history! The perfect opportunity to do this came along in the form of a trip to the historic Stonehenge. Not only is it a marvel of man’s creative genius, but also the perfect example of his unbreakable bond with nature. So when I was offered a chance to see these ‘prehistoric stones’, I jumped on it. I wouldn’t let it go for anything in the world!

How did these massive rock formations get there? Who put them there and for what? These are some of the questions that keep popping up in my head every time I think about the historic Stonehenge. When I caught its first glimpse, I was in sheer awe…to be able to build a structure like that in those days in the absence of tools and technology was pretty awesome. Moreover, the fact that historians and archaeologists are still puzzled about the origins of these concentric rings of gigantic stones, further adds to their mystery and enigma.

So how was it built? Apparently, the Stonehenge took Neolithic builders an estimated 1,500 years to build using roughly 100 massive upright stones placed in a circular layout. Its construction is quite baffling because, while the sandstone slabs of its outer ring hail from local quarries, scientists have traced the bluestones that make up its inner ring all the way to the Preseli Hills in Wales, some 200 miles from where Stonehenge sits on Salisbury Plain.

How, then, did prehistoric builders without sophisticated tools or engineering haul these boulders, which weigh up to 4 tons, over such a great distance? Was it with sledges and rollers made out of tree trunks to roll them down Preseli Hills and rafts to float them up toward Salisbury Plain, or supersized wicker baskets, or maybe even a combination of ball bearings, long grooved planks and teams of oxen? Who can say for sure?

How about glaciers? Perhaps Stonehenge’s mammoth slabs were snatched from the Preseli Hills by glaciers during one of the Ice Ages and deposited a stone’s throw away from Salisbury Plain. Although I’m wondering how forces of nature could possibly have delivered the exact number of stones needed to complete the circle.

But what was their purpose?  Was it a burial ground, a ceremonial site, a religious pilgrimage destination, a final resting place for royalty or a memorial erected to honor and perhaps spiritually connect with distant ancestors? Could it be an astronomical calendar, with different points corresponding to astrological phenomena such as solstices, equinoxes and eclipses? Or was it a place of healing, maybe because bluestones were thought to have curative powers?

So many questions but no concrete answers. That’s Stonehenge for you!

I never thought I would be so mesmerized by a pile of stones, but the iconic site proved to be monumental for me. Not only was I fascinated by the history and mystery surrounding it, but also by the pure architectural genius behind its construction. Personally for me, the Stonehenge has become a major source of inspiration and I would love to put it down on canvas in a way that justifies it element of mystery. How? That’s another question I’ll leave unanswered! At least for the time being….

Scotland

Having done with the awe-inspiring artistic locales of London, I moved on to my next destination, the breathtakingly beautiful Scotland. Here, I fell in love with art all over again. Not just man, but Mother Nature has also been at her creative best in this mesmerizing land and has provided ample opportunities for artists like me to take inspiration from. The majestic architecture of the castles in Edinburgh left me speechless and in awe of this country of kilts, tartans and bagpipes.

Here too, I wanted to experience Scotland from a different perspective…that of an artist. So I set off to explore the captivating Scottish landscape, soaking in its vibrant sights and colors for inspiration. Today, I’ll share with you all everything that has inspired me to pick up my paint brushes and just create art on my canvas.

The Kelpies

During my two day trip to Scotland, I got to see a great mix of architecture, art, sculpture, historical monuments and so much more. On the second day, I took a day long bus tour and our bus driver-cum-tour-guide kept us entertained with his constant prattle about the history of Scotland. Every now and then he would point out to something or the other of significance. Just as I was about to doze off, suddenly out of nowhere, two gigantic, glinting horse heads, stretching almost a hundred feet high, appeared  in front of me.

These magnificent sculptures are called Kelpies. They are a pair of 30m-high horse-head sculptures weighing around 300 tons each and were designed by Scottish figurative sculptor Andy Scott. The Kelpies are inspired by the heavy Clydesdale horses which powered much of Scotland’s industry and economy, pulling wagons and ploughs but also barges and coal ships.

Their name however derives from mythical creatures of old Celtic tales. According to these, they are shape-shifting water spirits, often appearing as horses and sometimes as humans who live in the lochs and rivers of Scotland, luring innocent souls into their realm – they are said to have the strength and endurance of more than ten horses. 

It is believed that if you get curious and decide to stroke the horse’s mane, you might find yourself wanting to mount it and go for a ride. But once you are on the horse’s back you cannot get off, and the horse runs deep into the water, taking you forever from the land. So, if you ever find a wild horse standing alone by the water in Scotland, leaving it alone would be a good idea!

Once again these alluring creatures have motivated me to capture their magic with the help of my brushes and paints. I can hardly wait!  

The Kelpies

The Parade Garden Sculptures

The bus tour took us through the Highlands and all the way to Loch Ness. Once again, I got to see some stunning architectural marvels and sculptures. But what stuck with me were these dainty little sculptures surrounded by lush green manicured grass at the Parade Gardens. The gardens are particularly noted for their displays of traditional carpet and sculptural bedding.Another interesting sculpture at the Parade Gardens is  that of young Mozart depicted playing his violin (after the famous Salzburg statue) standing on a raised, pierced and scrolled bronze base, adorned with three doves, two squirrels and a mouse at Mozart’s feet.     

Mother Nature, the ultimate artist

Man has drawn inspiration from nature right from the prehistoric times. Whether it’s cavemen drawing animals on walls, the great masters of art of the recent past or the contemporary artists of the present, nature has undoubtedly been one of the most endearing inspirations for them all. Even in today’s technology-driven world, nothing can invoke creative excellence quite like nature does.

Since time in memoriam, artists have been intoxicated by the beauty of nature. From Van Gogh’s famous “Irises” to Rousseau’s “Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!)”, the countless avatars of Mother Nature will continue to fascinate and inspire some of the most celebrated works of art in the world.

I find that I see inspiration all around me. There is always something or the other in my surroundings that catches my eye and makes me ponder how I can incorporate it into my art. It can be absolutely anything, be it the texture of a tree’s bark, the colors of autumn leaves or the varied shapes of rocks and pebbles. The minute I spot something of interest, out comes my phone and its image is captured by the lens and preserved for posterity. Who can say what portals of creativity they may open in my mind? Only time will tell!

During my travels in the UK, I came across such inspiring sights of nature that I was brimming with excitement. I also saw such a spectacular blend of nature and man-made structures that it seemed to open newer gateways to infinite possibilities of artistic innovation for me. I felt as if I had hit the Jackpot! It gives me great pleasure to share some of the precious jewels out of my stash of photos that I had clicked.

Other Inspiring Sights

Here are a few visuals of other scenes that caught my attention and have inspired me to reproduce them in some way the other onto my canvas.

With this, I end my series of my UK art travelogue, if I may call it that. I intend putting all these inspiring visuals to good use in my future explorations and I promise to share them with you all as and when I do so. But till I do, I will be getting back to my pending Navrasa Series, so until next time, Ciao!

DISCLAIMER – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational and educational purpose only. While there may be copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, I have only made it available with the sole effort to stimulate artistic progress and enrichment. Most of the photos included in this post are my personal copies which I clicked during my trip to the UK. However, some images may have been taken from the links included below and I give full credit to these websites/pages, thereby in no way claiming them to be my own. I have also used these links for reference purposes and collection of data for this post, therefore I give full credit to the respective web pages for their data. Most of the data in this post is based on my personal experiences and opinions and I am not responsible for any material that is found in the links at the end of this post.

Sources and Credits –

https://www.history.com/topics/british-history/stonehenge

https://www.cotswolds.info/places/bath/sculptures.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kelpies

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