Northern Soul

Another Place

Screen Print, £179 framed, £130 unframed.

 

 

 

Another Place is an extraordinary sculpture, first shown at Cuxhaven in Germany before being permanently moved to Crosby. Making casts, modelled on his own body, Anthony Gormley created one hundred iron men and stood them, irregularly spaced, on the sands at Crosby gazing out to sea. The sculpture was immediately loved by the public.

The iron men prompt me to think of my Scottish relatives, who went to the “Promised Land”: they look out towards America as though dreaming of freedom, opportunity, a fresh start, as so many migrants sailing from Liverpool must have done.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Bamburgh

Watercolour, £1995 framed.

Barns, Swaledale

Watercolour, £245 framed.

Barnsley Main

Screen Print, £179 framed.

Blea Tarn

Screen Print, £179 framed.

Berwick

Watercolour, £595, framed.

 

 

Berwick is largely famous for the number of times it has changed hands between England and Scotland. The vast fortifications are impressive and surprisingly beautiful.

I first came here at the end of a long day – a fitting time to arrive at the end of the line. Here England stops, and so does the North. But the overriding feeling about Berwick to me is that of an independent outpost, neither English nor Scottish.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Bolton Abbey

Watercolour, £720, framed.

Bradford

Watercolour, £595, framed.

 

Once, either side of the Pennine watershed, the towns of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire lay beneath a forest of chimneys under a canopy of smoke and steam. Often placed in tight, daylight-starved valleys, the mills began as engines powered by the powerful streams pouring from the hills.

And now most have gone, or stand empty, or are home to workshops, studios and flats. And the forest of chimneys is a sparse plantation stripped of its foliage. I heard someone once say that parts of Bradford look like the ruins of a lost civilisation. I couldn’t put it better.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Bradford Skyline

Watercolour, £370, framed.

Buttertubs Pass

Watercolour, £370, framed.

Brimham Rocks

Watercolour, £370, framed.

Chester Cathedral

Watercolour, £370, framed.

Byland Abbey, West Front

Watercolour, £370, framed.

Fountains Abbey, Evening

Watercolour, £945, framed.

Coniston Water

Watercolour, £595, framed.

So much of the North is here. Down in the valley lies Coniston Water where Arthur Ransom set the adventures of Swallows and Amazons and where Donald Campbell died attempting to become the fastest man in the world on water. Just above the town runs the grassy line of the Coniston Railway, built to carry slate and copper ore and, later, tourists. Across the valley is John Ruskin’s house at Brantwood. Ruskin was a great champion of J.M.W. Turner, the artist who, during fourteen Yorkshire summers, created a vision of the North for London buyers of his work. A few miles towards Windermere is Hill Top Farm where Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit amongst other furry heroes, lived. She was instrumental in establishing the National Trust by whose efforts much of the Lake District is preserved. And a little to the North are Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount, the homes of William Wordsworth, poet laureate and author of the classic Guide to the Lakes and who, like Turner, was responsible for creating an identity for the North.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Dunstanburgh

Watercolour, £1995, framed.

Durham from the Viaduct

Watercolour, £1995, framed.

Durham Cathedral

Watercolour, £595, framed.

 

Durham Cathedral has so many lovely features it could fill the whole book but for me it has three places of power. In the Galilee Chapel lies the tomb of the Venerable Bede, the monk from Jarrow and the father of English history writing. On the South side of the nave stands the Miner’s Memorial dedicated to those who “have given their lives in the pits of this County.” By the elaborate woodwork of the memorial hangs a safety lamp. But the place of honour in the cathedral, and a place of great spiritual power, is the tomb of Saint Cuthbert. He lies behind the high altar – the man who was the inspiration of the Lindisfarne saints and whose coffin welded itself to the ground here when his followers laid it down.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

From Sutton Bank

Watercolour, £945, framed.

Pencil & Polly Peachum's Tower

Watercolour and ink, £370, framed.

Kilburn White Horse

Watercolour, £1995, framed.

Crossing the Tyne

Screen Print, £105, framed.

 

 

 

Arriving in Newcastle is like coming into no other city. It stands to the North of the dramatic Tyne Gorge, with Gateshead on the southern bank. The distance is spanned by an eclectic series of bridges including the ingenious “Blinking Eye”, the Tyne (which echoes the later Sydney Harbour Bridge and was built by the same firm) and Robert Stephenson’s High Level.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Hexham

Watercolour, £370, framed.

The town sits on a hill, with narrow streets, elegant Victorian shops and a trio of ancient buildings: the Old Gaol, the Moot Hall and the magnificent abbey. Hexham Abbey, one of my favourite churches, is extraordinary in its wealth of art: Roman sculpture, Anglo-Saxon carvings, medieval paintings and contemporary stained glass. My favourite treasure stands between the choir stalls: a 7th Century bishop’s throne: the Frith Stool. It’s a simple, carved chair with incised, winding patterns like knotted cords set in stone.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Newcastle

Watercolour, £595, framed.

Liverpool - The Graces

Mixed media, £370, framed.

Liverpool

Watercolour, £595, framed.

 

 

 

For Christmas 1968 my mother gave me a slim volume of poetry in the Penguin Modern Poets series entitled The Mersey Sound.

I had started to write poetry a little while before and was struggling to find my voice. The three poets in The Mersey Sound, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, showed me the way. They used the rhythms of the blues or created great lists of sparkling ideas or expressed themselves in tiny, two-line slivers of brilliance.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Moonlight, Whitby

Watercolour, £370, framed.

Roseberry Topping

Watercolour, £370, framed.

High Force

Watercolour, £370, framed.

 

 

 

 

High Force was my first taste of the Dales – a magnificent beginning. From Durham I had travelled through the pit villages and into Weardale before climbing up and over into Teesdale. I was enchanted – I’d seen nothing like this in my life.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Leeds

Watercolour, £370, framed.

 

 

 

Leeds shines gold and green in the lovely paintings of Atkinson Grimshaw – a man who, under rich viridian moonlit skies, captured the glory of the late Victorian city. I first saw his Liverpool Quay by Moonlight when I was twelve and thought it amazing. His Leeds paintings, of Boar Lane, Park Row and Roundhay Park are magical nocturnes – damp streets, misty gaslight, warm, receding shadows – capturing Leeds at the height of its Victorian pomp.

…every now and then, in the railway arches under Leeds station, in the surviving Victorian terraces, in the blackened stonework of an old wall, I catch a glimpse of the Leeds I first saw and feel a fingertip of contact with the city that Atkinson Grimshaw painted.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

 

Petergate, York

Screen Print, £179, framed.

Stockport Viaduct

Screen Print, £179, framed.

Night Bridge

Screen Print, £105, framed.

Rain, the Piece Hall

Screen Print, £149, framed.

Night Shift, Sunny Bank Mills

Screen Print, £179, framed.

 

 

Sunny Bank Mills is at Farsley, between Leeds and Bradford. In its heyday it made fine worsted cloth and tailored it into suits for well-dressed men. The mill dates from 1829 with various additions up to the 1950s. It is a handsome collection of buildings seen when the tall windows and towering gold-hued limestone walls reflect the sun.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Steelworks by Moonlight

Screen Print, £149, framed.

 

Steel from the Redcar blast furnace – the second largest in Europe – went to create Sydney Harbour and the Tyne bridges. The steelworks, having surfed the wave of prosperity for so long was, along with the rest of the steel industry, nationalised in 1967.

Then came the Thatcher years. During the first part of the 1980s the North lost ten times as many jobs as the South and the chill wind of unemployment blew through Teeside. British Steel was privatised in 1988 and the steelworks continued to operate – eventually the only survivor out of ninety-one blast furnaces in the area.

Mothballed for a while, and then reopened, the ovens fell cold for the last time in 2015 with the loss of three thousand jobs.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Piel Island in a Storm

Screen Print, £295, framed.

Durham

Screen Print, £179, framed.

Lindisfarne

Screen Print, £119, framed.

St Gregory's Minster

Watercolour, £595, framed.

Salts Mill

Watercolour, £595, framed.

Whitby, Morning

 

 

 

 

Whitby is a harbour town with salt crusted roots, overlooked by a ruined abbey and a gothic church. The stories that have sailed out of Whitby are the stuff of legends. At one time England’s third largest shipbuilding centre, ships have set out from here to explore the world. It has been a major whaling port and the scene of some of the most harrowing lifeboat rescues.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Lindisfarne

Watercolour, £1495, framed.

Roseberry Topping, Dawn

Watercolour, £595, framed.

Peel Crags, Hadrian's Wall

Watercolour, £370, framed.

 

 

 

When the Romans came to build Hadrian’s Wall they constructed much of the fortification along the edge of a steep slope, taking strategic advantage of the shape of the country. At Housesteads fort the land rises gently to the wall and then falls away into the country of the barbarians: the lawless lands outside the Empire. When I first came here on a bright, early autumn day the sun hung in the south, over my shoulder, as I looked into the wind roaring out of pagan Northumberland.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

M62

 

 

Most of the emptiest spaces of the North are only crossed by the smallest of roads, but Saddleworth Moor is different. It carries the M62. It’s a road I love: the long hill rising up out of Yorkshire, a winding drive through spectacular, atmospheric hills, and then the Lancashire plain laid out below like a map.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Wakefield Chantry

Mixed media, £370, framed.

Huntcliffe, Saltburn

Mixed media, £245, framed.

Ribblehead, Sunset

Watercolour, £595, framed.

Wakefield

Watercolour, £595, framed.

Thornley Colliery

Mixed media, £370, framed.

 

Some of the most important learning I ever did was in St Godric’s Primary School in the County Durham village of Thornley. It was here that I had my first proper teaching experience with a class of seven-year-olds in a village that had just lost its pit and had been categorised a “D Village”. This meant that no new building would be permitted and houses would be bought by the council and demolished. It was, effectively, a death sentence for the community. But life inside the school went on oblivious to the plans of Durham County Council. And I learned to relax in front of a class, to enjoy myself, and see that relaxation and enjoyment reflected back. We sang songs, shared stories, made art and, to my great surprise, I found my calling as a teacher.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

Tees Transporter Bridge

Screen Print, £179, framed.

York Minster, Misty Morning

Watercolour, £595, framed.

 

 

 

The first time I walked into York from the railway station I was 22 and on my way to Banks’ Music Shop at the foot of Stonegate. I ended up spending that day just walking – the first of countless days spent exploring this endlessly absorbing city.

From Northern Soul by Ian Scott Massie

The Three Peaks

Watercolour, £2495, framed.