Cumberland Drawings

An intimate view of a small corner of the Lake District is the focus of a new exhibition opening shortly at the Heaton Cooper Studio Archive Gallery in Grasmere. Cumberland Drawings features pastel drawings by Tor Falcon of the area around Loweswater in the north western fells, where her husband’s family have a farm.

The pictures are of hills and water, at all times of the year, showing a very personal approach to the landscape. Tor describes herself as an artist who walks: “Walkers cannot help but be aware of the make up of the earth beneath their feet. Of the changing sounds, temperatures and light levels as they move through a landscape. They pass sheltered spots where tender plants flourish and others where trees are brutally sculpted by the prevailing wind.  A walker knows the real distance between here and there.”

And drawing, she says, sharpens looking: “Every aspect of the landscape in front of you must be seen and must be considered. The spread of the boughs of a tree, or the profile of the riverbank, or whatever, must be repeated by your hand. It must be felt. Drawing is always surprising, things are often not quite how you thought they were. I learn something new every time I go out drawing.”

Tor first came to the area 30 years ago when she met her husband, who has family at Loweswater. And it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “He showed me round, took me to the lake, up the fells, looking for crystals in the disused mines, picking bilberries and fishing. He showed me all the things he loved about this place. And for a long time it always felt like his place. We’d row up and down the lake, fishing for char, sometimes for so long that I thought I’d die of boredom. Going down to the river on evenings when the midges were terrible.”

But Tor says that when their children got older and she started to take herself off to draw, she began to see and move about in the landscape differently. “I began to see it and inhabit it in my own way, looking at shapes, colour, plants and light. Seeking places to draw that offer shelter in the winter or shade in the summer. Finding the best place to see the midsummer sunset from, or the perfect spot from which to draw the January full moon rise. There are things, like the lone thorn at the bottom of Low Fell or the sagging zig-zag of wall behind the house that I’ve drawn over and over again. There are places that I’ll never tire of, like the curve of the fold of the ground above the beck.”

Tor studied Fine Art Painting at Norwich School of Art, and recent projects include: 2014- 2015: Peddars Way. Exhibition, and publication of book in London in 2016 2017- 2018: Series of South Downs drawings, shown at Glyndebourne both summers. 2016 -2019: Rivers of Norfolk. Exhibition, and publication of book, at Norwich Castle Museum Art Gallery in 2019 and in London in 2020. She is currently working in a project about the moon.

Cumberland Drawings opens on September 22 and runs until November 30.