With dramatic coastlines, diverse flora and fauna and miles upon miles of beaches, the Isle of Wight’s natural beauty inspires artists all year round. To celebrate our new branch opening on the Isle of Wight, we commissioned some of the best the island has to offer and asked them to highlight some of the less well known, hard to reach or just downright beautiful places in the place they call home. Below, we showcase their art and stories.
“Go your own way!”
Okay I know that’s a song title….but given the time I spend in my studio at work all week with the radio on it’s hardly surprising! Sometimes at my exhibitions visitors walk around and try to see how many music-driven titles they can spot!
I get off ‘the beaten track’ as regularly as I can. I am a birdwatcher as well as shy so this suits me.
When I came to the Isle of Wight a year ago it was paramount that I found hidden corners to visit.
One time I parked the car near a farm having wondered where the lane on the corner went! It’s “St Rhadegund’s path”. I know that because no sooner do you start your gentle stroll there’s a historical signboard to reward you with interesting information. So…do go and find it!
It is a peaceful interlude stepping from car to lane! I promise!
The path is tranquil and after just 5 minutes the view opens out. This inspired my picture “Go your own way”. Ahead of you is a dominant signpost and beyond that the sea. 180 degrees of it in fact and as you attain the signpost you are offered choices – left or right or straight on. Each rewards with gentle downland on one side and the Channel on the other.
Of all the hidden spots I have found so far this view is the most evocative. No wonder I chose the image for my business card!
So, go your own way and find it….once you’ve parked the car!
Original artwork – Go your own way!
Located in a large natural harbour on the Island’s North-Western coast, the tiny serene hamlet of Newtown has a rich history as well as beautiful scenery and wetland wildlife. I have chosen to highlight this area in my work as it is popular with local wildlife enthusiasts and walkers. The unspoilt haven was saved in the 1960’s from the proposed development of a nuclear power station by locals who conducted wildlife surveys to prove to the authorities it was worthy of preservation. The only National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Wight, Newtown is also famous for having a town hall with no town, the 17th century building reflecting its Medieval origins as an important hub of Isle of Wight politics.
Original artwork – Newtown Creek
This panorama is special to me because it brings together 3 of my passions into one image, my love for the west wight landscape, the wild weather systems we get on the island in winter, and the swell (surfable waves) that these storms generate for the local surfers (which you can see on the right of the photo if you look very closely)
It’s not at first glance a remote, or little known location, Freshwater bay is well known and loved by many, but still its a view that is not seen by everyone because you have to venture a little further to see it like this.
The Panorama was taken from out on the rocks / reef at the right hand side of the bay, known to local surfers as ‘the cabbage patch’. You can only get out onto them at low tide, and then you can only see it with big clean surf-able conditions like this a handful of times a year, and then of course, to see it under skies like this is another thing altogether, thats what makes this moment in space and time unique for me.
Original artwork – Freshwater Bay Panorama
Painter and art teacher
I used to live in Middleton just up the road from Freshwater Bay and as a teenager would go fishing and rock pooling on the beach and exploring the caves. I always had an interest in natural history and this part of the Island is rich with diverse and rare flora and fauna.
There is a great deal of history connecting Freshwater Bay and many of Britain’s most well known artists including J. M. W. Turner, George Morland, the Pre-Raphaelites including Burne-Jones, Rossetti and Hunt. Notaries like William Morris also visited and stayed at the bay in what is now Freshwater Bay House. Dimbola (home of Victorian pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron) is just up the road from the Bay as is Farringford, home of Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson. It is fair to say that for centuries Freshwater Bay has inspired many a great artistic talent, this has had a significant influence on me and my work and is one of my favourite places on the Isle of Wight.
Original artwork – ‘Freshwater Bay’
When I first moved to the Isle of Wight I was living just outside Bembridge. I totally fell in love with the area and in particular the dramatic stretch of coastline that runs from Whiteclliff Bay to Bembridge Bay. The coastal path winds its way across wooded cliff tops with the sounds of the sea crashing beneath. And down on the beach great swathes of geological history tumble down to the sea, an extraordinary jumble of chalk, limestone, clays, sands, gravels and fossils.
I came across this scene on a beautiful Summer’s day when I’d cut inland from the coastal path. The moment I saw these children playing I knew I had to take the photograph. There was something timeless about this moment that I think comes through in the image. How many generations of children have played happily by this old windmill? The knowledge that this is the last surviving windmill on the island adds an additional layer of poignancy.
I shoot on medium format film and this particular image was taken with a Holga, an extremely basic camera that in spite of its limitations produces stunning pictures. With the vignetting around the edges and the slightly warped and random focus created by the lens, the Holga produces a slightly other-worldly, nostalgic quality which I think complements the Isle of Wight perfectly.
Original artwork – ‘Bembridge Windmill’
‘Homecoming’ is the sense of joy, the yearning for the familiar.
Journeying across the Solent – the Excitement of returning.
The magical light, the energy of the coastline, the beauty
of the natural environment – elements of home.
Players Beach, glimpsed from the ferry on arrival, North of the island. Meander through Quarr woodland down to the shore, where the land meets the sea, strewn with the remains of ancient trees that have slipped into the waters edge, sticky island clay, seaweed slippery rocks – a palette of cobalt waves and gull coloured sky. This overlooked inlet a hidden gem along the majestic coastline of the island.
Original artwork – ‘Homecoming’
Hamstead jetty is a special place for me to visit. It is at one with nature. The only sounds you hear are the calls from the flocks of feeding sea birds and the gentle lapping of the water. The clouds scurry across huge skies giving a great sense of peaceful space. Yachts sail silently by as they explore this hidden paradise. Truly a hidden gem of the Isle of Wight.
Main image by Ron Saunders