Saturday, September 27, 2008

My pilgrimage

This was really the highspot of my trip this time, although it had nothing to do with Growing Old Disgracefully. After my husband died we discovered a box of unframed watercolours painted by his mother, who was no mean artist. There are several of them which I am hoping to frame and have on my walls. My mother-in-law, whom I never met, was born and brought up in Leeds, and it appears from her paintings that she must have spent holidays on the North Yorkshire coast, as one of them was recognisably of Whitby, and two or three had been titled 'Sandsend', which is a small bay just north of Whitby.

The headland, Sandsend

I have scanned all the smaller pictures into my computer, and I thought it would be interesting to take prints with me to Whitby, and see if I could actually find the places where the artist had sat to paint the scenes. I took altogether seven pictures, only three of which where titled, and I ended up identifying all but one of them. But this was only done with the help of three other people who supported me in my search.

Tate Hill Sands and Jetty, Whitby

My first piece of good fortune was to find a receptionist at Sneaton Castle who was a local person and actually recognised all but one of the pictures - and bear in mind that they had been painted about 100 years ago! I was planning to go on my search by taxi, and she told me exactly where to ask the driver to put me down to find the different scenes. My next piece of luck was to have a disgraceful friend offer to drive me round and wait while I located my targets and took photographs. We didn't have very long, as we had to get back for our second leaflet meeting, so it was a bit of a scramble, and I didn't get all the shots I would have liked. However, I have enough evidence to convince me that I have followed my mother-in-law's artistic trail of a hundred years ago. This proved to be quite a moving experience, and I feel that in some way I have actually met her at last. Here are my two best successes, with the painting on the left, and my photo on the right:

Sandsend, near Whitby, view from the steps running up beside the Beach Hotel.

Argument's Yard, Whitby, alongside the lifeboat shed, seen from the water's edge. The yard is now private, but I was lucky enough to be invited in by a couple who live there, who were delighted to see the 100-year-old watercolour. Further confirmation came from a painting by a contemporary artist below, and an old photo from the Whitby archive, both of which I found on the web.


Lee said...

What a lovely thing to do!

Avus said...

Fascinating, Judith. I, too like to do this sort of "comparing" and it is all the more meaningful when you have such originals.