Sunday, 23 July 2017

Portway - view the full series

Friday, 6 March 2009

The beginning and the end

Two of the last paintings to be completed were the Hemlock Stone and Mam Tor, the largest paintings in the series, reflecting their importance as the designated extremities of the Portway.

Described in Henry Sutton's wonderfully Victorian poem, there is a legendary link between Castleton near Mam Tor and the Hemlock Stone:

'............What convulsion made
Thy red neck rear itself so haughtily
Above these fields? What tempest sculptured thee?
What demon hurled thee here, a lonely rock?'

Folklore tells that the Hemlock Stone was ripped and hurled from the mouth of Peak Cavern, Castleton, by the devil: an attractively neat tale to encompass the Portway.

Portway Review

Painters undertake journeys, as surely as the traders of old who ventured along the Derbyshire Portway; galvanic force behind Hambleton’s recent works. In facility and established genre her journey may well be approaching the sunny uplands; a rewarding stage of achievement and experience.

Synthesis of landscape, upon and by the Portway, is the artist’s preoccupation. The use of the large brush, and painting from the shoulder, assist that facility which nevertheless must retain an edge of feeling against the lull of fluency. Dark Lane has something of that edginess, as does the brittle graphicacy of the splendid pencil and crayon study Cratcliff.

Hambleton is at her most persuasive in transposition; that curious mental absorption of elements of perceived phenomena that are processed and rendered through a transforming pictorial language to become something else. Such is Dale Hermitage. A delightful work of glancing reference, but not craven before the subject.

There are hints of probable influences ; Derain, Hitchens, Paul Nash? But nowhere is this overt. Hambleton is simply of her time; open to the profligate cascades of images of art that technical replication now provides. Her on-the-spot confrontation of place and its uniqueness is key to ensuring varied responses and to each painting being itself a singular object.

John Fineran
March 2009

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


During early winter, I longed for snow, and the way it transposes the landscape. So much snow fell early this month that remnants still underline the walls. In paintings that come together quickly, I often leave negative white spaces of primed canvas, letting the composition breathe. Snow is a positive white, and quite different to paint. Ascending from the shadowed Lathkill at Alport, Dark Lane is a fragment of walled trackway. The stalks of last summer's maize, Naple's Yellow amongst the snow created an unexpected composition:

A 1960s booklet 'The Law of Footpaths' provided very apt collage:

Thursday, 12 February 2009

All Saints Church, Dale

Thank you to Cannon Ian Gooding for allowing me to spend an afternoon in the fascinating church at Dale. I have always been intrigued by church interiors, not crowded with worshippers, but empty spaces of contemplation, angled with daylight and thronged with definitive objects. Unlocking the door of All Saints with the weighty key revealed a cramped interior, oak enclosed, awkward box pews, pulpit wood twisting. I made several sketches: timber framed compositions, focussing on the simple windows. Below is the resulting studio painting, which utilises an old street map of Derby in the window:

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Art of England

I'm very excited to be featured in Art of England this month. It's a great article about the project, with plenty of images:

The magazine is available from WH Smith, Borders, art shops and galleries.....

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


A trip to the intriguing Scriveners Books in Buxton has instigated a new strand of work. Foraging through 5 floors of old books uncovered various Derbyshire guides and atlases. Carefully selected text and black and white images have been woven into this painting of Wirksworth:

Foraging at Black Rocks uncovered the red earth used in much of this work. Other walkers were fascinated by the sudden emergence of this vivid ochre in the woodland path: