“I know of no other natural history record quite like this one in which a poet and an artist, sharing the same landscape, have so fully revealed both its fate and its glory. John Clare’s Northamptonshire has become everyone’s inherited England. Carry Akroyd’s pictures illustrate it to perfection, the past and the now. In it we are faced with our own losses and gains as modern farming and wildlife come to terms. It is a remarkable partnership and a wonderful book.”

Ronald Blythe

'of natures powers & spells'

Landscape Change, John Clare and Me

 

Langford Press

Hardback, 30 x 27cms, 150 images, 168 pages

Price £38

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Carry Akroyd’s characteristically colourful and organised landscape images examine the relationship between humans and wildlife. This book samples work from twenty years; some of her images are a lament, while others just express a sheer joy derived from the natural world. From direct drawing in the landscape to the interplay between deliberation and impulse in the studio, this book follows ideas from their inspiration to their expression.

 

Review taken from BBC Wildlife magazine for January 2010:

 

A beautiful testament to the influence of a legendary poet on a modern-day artist.

Keen-eyed readers will have spotted that the missing apostrophe in this book’s title is not a mistake, but a quote from the celebrated poet John Clare. The book’s subtitle — Landscape Change, John Clare and Me — will remove any doubt.

However, this is not a dry academic treatise, but a marvellous collection of prints and paintings from one of our most extraordinary nature artists, Carry Akroyd. Every page holds new delights, from the miniature — a view looking down at banded demoiselles over rippling water — to the grand, as in the doublepage spread Vermuydens Drain, a picture that leaps off the page and demands your attention.

Admittedly, fans of the hyper-naturalistic style favoured by many modern nature artists may be disappointed. But those who appreciate Akroyd’s unique view of our world will revel in this book’s delights. Paradoxically, considering her ‘unrealistic’ style, I find that she captures the truth of a natural scene as well as anyone.

In many art books the text is merely a bolt-on extra, but not here. Akroyd has written a perceptive essay on what Clare’s writing means to her, and how she has strived to approach her subject in the same way as he did. Though their chosen mediums are so different, they both employ a deceptively simple style to convey the complexity of a landscape and its wildlife.

Langford Press has done another fine job with the books production, making me wonder why some other publishers seem unable to match their high standards.
  This is, above all, a beautiful object and a fine showcase for such an original talent.

Verdict *****

Stephen Moss

BBCtv producer, birder and author

 


 

"A great addition to the Coffee table" - BTO Book Reviews

 


 

Review from ECOS journal of the British Association of Nature Conservationists.

 

If you’ve not yet discovered the Langford Press wildlife art books I urge you to track them down. These large format hardbacks ooze quality and are a real inspiration, showcasing the talent of contemporary wildlife artists. If you are not bowled over by this latest in the series by Carry Akroyd, there is little hope for you!

I expected my review of this book to be a doddle – a quick appreciation of Carry Akroyd’s vibrant artwork and sympathetic nods to her accompanying text. How wrong and delightfully surprised I was - the text is compelling, and represents some of the finest discussion of intimate landscape change produced for a long time. The quality comes from her crisp writing and her deep knowledge of the subject – her understanding of ecology, and her feeling for the land, rooted in middle England’s Northamptonshire landscape. Here, as elsewhere, intensive agriculture and the intrusion of roads, traffic and infrastructure have taken their toll, erasing features of the landscape and beating back ordinary and special wildlife.

Her stylized work (mainly screenprints or serigraphs, but also linocuts, monoprints and watercolours) uses vivid tones. It often elevates the observer across sweeping views of the land. She uses bold foregrounds and she cheats with the perspective to conjure up expanded angles and compositions – these invite repeat views through different projections. All her elements of nature, from veteran trees, to bolting hares, restless meadows, or shaggy wetlands, depict the essence of wild nature.

The focus of the book, and of much of Carry Akroyd’s work, is her parallel view to John Clare, the prolific nineteenth century poet - ‘Northamptonshire’s Peasant poet’. He too observed transformations in the landscape, at the small and the grand scale. He noted its consequences, on the character of particular places and on the effects on people’s lives, which he felt deeply from amongst the landless classes, especially at the time of the enclosures. 

Selections of Clare’s verse are absorbed into some of Carry Akroyd’s artwork. Mostly this reinforces the sense of grieving for lost wildlife and meaningful places now gone, but much is also uplifting, given the dignity and richness of Clare’s prose. The modern-day artist uses Clare as a reference point to compare different changes, subtle and dramatic, across the same locations. In reflecting on the further ebb and flow of the landscape today, and the environmental erosion taking place, John Clare might be equally angry. But he would be proud of Carry Akroyd for making sure it is documented and discussed, and the parts that are saved and recovered are displayed in their full glory.

Geoffrey Wain

ECOS journal of the British Association of Nature Conservationists.

 


 

From BIRD ART & PHOTOGRAPHY Summer 2010

 

This handsome publication is the 25th  in Langford Press’s impressive series of artist celebrations and it is up there with the best of them. It is sub-titled Landscape Change, John Clare and Me and brings together work from a 20 year examination of the human impact on the Northants countryside where Carry makes her home. A superficial glance at the screenprints, linocuts, oils, watercolours and mixed media works within its elegantly designed pages con be very misleading. It would be easy to dismiss the bright colours and simplified shapes as ‘decorative’ art but don’t be deceived - this is art with a strong pro-conservation message at its heart.

In the 1 980s Carry was concerned at the impact of agri-business was having on the landscape and wildlife within it and this led to Northants Library Services commissioning her to put together a small touring exhibition about John Clare, the county’s ‘peasant poet’ who sprang to national prominence in the mid-i 8th Century.

As soon as she started to read his words, Carry realised they were kindred spirits and as a self- appointed ‘missionary for his work’ many of her artworks feature lines from his poems. Carry is aware that unrelieved concern about habitat destruction is potentially damaging if it has no outlet. Thankfully she has the talent to create unique artworks where she can express herself for our enjoyment and education.

Each of the artworks displayed in the book is pulsating with detail and repays close viewing. One characteristic of many of the works is the birds’ eye viewpoint she adopts and, though these are essentially invented landscapes, they perfectly capture the essence of the railing Northants countryside and the never- ending flatness of the Fens.

Seductive though the images are, I would urge buyers to read the text, because Carry is as skilled with words as she is with pictures. I found the chapter where she discusses her working methods particularly interesting.

 


 

from British Wildlife: Volume 21 Number 6 August 2010

 

This is a wonderful book. It is one of those rare things, an unforced reflection on the creative response to a landscape that bonds two artists, despite their being separated in time by almost two centuries. This book is partly a lament for the lost countryside of dare’s Northamptonshire and Akroyd’s thoughts on continuing change in the modern countryside. But it is also a highly successful marriage of dare’s observations and Akroyd’s perceptive paintings and prints. The bold geometric lines of her farmed landscapes are broken by emblematic swans and lapwings, clouds of dragonflies, sleek foxes and knarled pollards. The powerful use of colour and form lifts off each page. Akroyd’s meditation on change and the creative process is lucid and blends perfectly with the extracts from dare’s poetry. Langford Press has produced some of the best books on modern wildlife art in recent years. For me, this ranks as one of its finest.

Andrew Branson

 


 

from John Clare Society Journal: number 29 July 2010

 

... She writes about the relationship between image and idea, between observing and thinking, and in the process articulates the principles underlying her work:

‘For me the important thing about representing the landscape is that, however much I change it, exaggerate it, falsify the colours, imagine a perspective, simplify the fdrms, it still must contain within it some truth to the place where it originated, and the people who are familiar with that place should recognise it (p. 134). 1 might add that where her work is inspired directly by John Glare’s poetry she gives ‘readings’ which do indeed ring true. As well as conveying feelings that she shares with him about the countryside and what is happening to it, she heightens our awareness of the intense visual quality of Glare’s writing as she shows the relevance of his words to the modern world...

Valerie Pedlar