Friday, 13 March 2009

Fountains Abbey: A Tale of the First of Many Embarrassments in Life

Finally finished this and handed it in successfully yesterday. Really happy with the final outcome, despite hitting problems such as the wet PVA making the tracing paper wrinkle up a bit. All of the pages and their accompanying text can be seen below. As always, click images to enlarge.

Page 1:
It was a Thursday, and the trip was almost at its end. Despite visiting the National Trust site every day that week, the timeless feeling of a frozen moment emitted by so many of the root and ivy ridden structures, held my eleven year old self captivated. A captivation of which was only spoiled by the presence of others around me. This included my family.

The half term holiday in Yorkshire was only for the week, and we had crammed ourselves into a cottage next to the heritage site of Fountains Abbey. The Abbey, founded in 1132, remains one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian houses in England. Despite operating for just over 400 years, upon Henry VIII’s order of the dissolution of the monasteries, all land where the Abbey stands was sold by the crown. (Rain had kept me restricted to the confines of the visitors’ center a few too many times before reaching the dizzy heights of Thursday).

Page 2:
Escaping with permission from the ‘look at this’ nature of the family walking party, exploration of the grounds began.

Page 3:
Running right from one end of the site to the other, was a river. Beginning as a trickle and widening out into a calm, ripple less blanket of reflections, it led me down in an eel like fashion from the Abbey to the water gardens of Studley Royal.

Page 4:
Here, statues and temples hide themselves from the prying public, conveying a real sense of secrecy to those who stumble upon them. Windows (if present at all) are clouded and dirty, giving only glimpses of whatever lives inside. Trees and foliage are creeping over the light, coarse stone. An easily noticeable structural contrast can be seen over the site, as muddy, disheveled grays exposed to the elements clash against the straight and finely crafted yellows. As the Sun got higher in the sky, a cool dampness was left in the air from the previous night’s rain, and my shadow on the path got noticeably smaller. The greatest challenge of the day so far presented itself to me; once I reached the far end of the site.

Page 5:
The stones were placed a half a metre a part from one another across the river. With the great feeling of independence attained from my morning of exploration, I began to dart over the steps. At every jump I held my breath, and then exhaled heavily at each thud of Wellington boot on stone. Reaching the other side successfully, I looked around at the tourists crossing on the parallel footbridge. No heads were turned by what was frankly, a far greater feat than any of them would achieve that day. I was on the wrong side of the lake anyway, so began to leap back across. Step after step, breath after breath, I sped across.

Page 6:
The realisation that perhaps I was going too fast had come to me upon the previous jump, and then also as I saw my foot travel past the intended stone of landing. People did at least look this time...

Page 7:
Eight years later, whilst examining a series of photos from Fountains Abbey in the hopes of rekindling some more of my memory there, I found a picture of the stepping stones where I fell. They’re massive, and really close together. I’m an idiot.


We (my Graphic Design course) are putting on an exhibition on Monday of all the books made in the last 4 weeks for this project. I'm intending to take photos of some of my favourites and upload them here which will hopefully go up Monday night or some time Tuesday.

Now I'm in review week and the end of the term i'm hoping to do another series of the Disney pieces as well.

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