ERIC KNOWLES WAXES LYRICAL ABOUT TREES AND LEAVES
One of the foremost pleasures of my role at The Pantiles Arcade has turned out, rather unexpectedly, to be my commute in to work. Not the early starts, of course, but the fact that I travel in along the corridor between the Ashdown Forest on one hand and the High Weald on the other which – as has become apparent to me as a relative newcomer – features some quite stunning scenery.
I’ve always known the area to be situated on the fringes of the Garden of England and – in my mind’s eye – have always pictured it to be appropriately green and luxuriant. To an extent, of course, this has been proven true, but what I was not prepared for is the transition in to autumn and the extraordinary colours that it has delivered with the fading of the glaucous and verdant greens of high summer.
It’s been genuinely uplifting of late to hear that we are due a sunny day, as I can then prepare to immerse myself in the magnificent tapestry of reds, yellows, oranges and golds that I will encounter on my journey to The Corn Exchange – maybe not such an iconic vista as the the fabled ‘New England in The Fall’ about which we hear so much, but a pretty close second !
It’s put me in mind of the art glass artists of French renown who are collectively responsible for producing some of my most favourite items, many of which we are able to offer for sale at our splendid premises. Several of these greats hailed from or gravitated towards the same area of their country – Alsace Lorraine and the Vosges in Le Grande Est, close to the German border. This broad area features a similar sort of landscape as that through which I now commute – wooded hills and dales - hursts and dens – and one can imagine that their autumn months saw a similar display of colours to the one which I enjoy. Daum, Galle and Legras were all habitues of the area, and it’s clear that they carried their formative memories of the landscape in to their professional lives as an inspiration. Meisenthal and Lalique can also lay claim to having close associations with the same neck of the (resplendent) woods.
That said, glass may seem to be curious medium for artists at first glance – it is, essentially, inanimate once it has been worked upon, after all. What it does provide, however, is the perfect means to work with both colour and light which, as it transpires, is the perfect combination with which to evoke the subtleties and nuances of the passing seasons.
The glassware that these gentlemen perfected demonstrated variations in opacity, translucence and depth of colour which was able to sumptuously evoke the ambience of one particular time of year or another. They were equally adept at representing the sombre, somewhat doleful light of midwinter forests and snowfields as they were the stark brightness of high summer, but it is with their depictions of autumn that they seemed to excel. Perhaps they shared my own degree of enchantment with nature’s palette of colours which is evident during these few weeks, and took particular delight in their representations of it in their work.
If you have a little spare time over the next few weeks, I’d urge you to venture out and take in the encroaching magnificence of autumn which surrounds us all – or, failing that, come along and have a chat down at The Pantiles Arcade – I’ve got some lovely leaves to show you !