today’s walk in strong sunshine and stronger wind was from Kelling Reading Rooms up Muckleborough Hill,

chased by winged cloud shadows which flew out to sea.

it didn’t feel as windy up there as I expected, perhaps that was due to my own puffing after climbing up a bit over sixty metres.

in Norfolk it counts as a hill – in Scotland not so much – but it commands great views of the coast, and has a Bronze Age “bowl” barrow on the seaward slope,

somewhere in the trees and scrub. it shows on aerial photos taken in the 1940’s and 50’s. and there are awesome imaginary views of Doggerland, the area between Britain and Europe which was dry land until about eight thousand years ago, populated by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who migrated with the seasons, fishing, hunting, and gathering food such as hazelnuts and berries.

after returning from time-travelling, and after contemplating the wind-farm turbines and the racing clouds we turned downhill, through oak woods, and crossed the coast road to Kelling Heath, via Weynor Gardens, a seventies housing estate with a permissive path behind it through to the heath.

the camera on my iphone flattens things out, and the budding honeysuckle that’s climbed up a small dead tree is hard to read in the way that my eye read it. there are tree shadows that are confused with the branches that cast the shadows.

there are many wonderful trees on these slopes, and I walked along appreciating them, partly thanks to watching every Idris Murphy video I could find on the internet.

I’ve captured a few images from his website. this is Riverbed Ross River, 44.5 x 44.5 cm.

Idris Murphy works en plein air in the rather wonderful Australian landscape on smaller boards, the size of these three, and from the experience of working on those (some of which are completed out doors, and others worked on in the studio) he paints his larger works in the studio.

Waterfall cloud bank river-front, acrylic on board 65 x 69.5 cm

Views Walking Killcare, acrylic on board, 45 x 45 cm

as he says, using photographs to paint landscape just does not work, as they look flat like the photos, which as I pointed out above, are very flat, and especially with the wide angle type lens on my iphone – it just takes all the interest out of the picture.

Black emu evening and hill-side, Mutawintji, acrylic and collage on board, 65 x 65 cm

Murphy brings his extensive knowledge of ancient Aboriginal cave paintings, a spiritual sensibility and awareness of the meaning and history of place to his landscape paintings, which have nothing to do with exact realism. as he says, it’s all about making a picture – it’s very interesting to see his process in¬† several videos on the website¬†

hipstamatic helps to make my photos a little more interesting

but they can’t do anything like a painting. Here’s a big one of Murphy’s – Luminous green waterhole, 120 x 130 cm

the abstract qualities of this are gorgeous. Murphy’s colours are true to the Australian outback, the reds and purples of bare earth, and then the sudden greens after rain. the white gum trees stand out in many of his paintings,

yes we do in fact have white trees in Europe, but only in winter do they stand out as here against all the dead bracken,

and old oaks have the feel of spirit guides in these sandy hills by the coast where the Neolithic and Bronze ages still feel accessible and you can imagine Doggerland out there under the North Sea.

but I M is right about photography it really does not hack it compared to what one sees and one did not have time to stop and draw as the dear Galga certainly would not like it! perhaps minus dog when the weather warms up and before the green begins.

meanwhile I continue to paint from somewhere inside my head. this was something I thought complete a few months ago. I got it out yesterday and skated some paint around on it so that what was underneath was partly visible .. and it IS a landscape but a composite of things in my memory, partly from walks in Fife, Scotland, and partly Norfolk.

these details show how the thin paint allows what is underneath to become mysterious and suggestive

and in some parts completely covered

painting-over is often much more satisfying than starting from scratch

on our walk the gorse beginning to look like spring

and as usual the steam train’s morning trip from Sheringham to Holt passed us


chuffing and huffing up the gradient deep in the cutting, so that you can only see the smoke and steam and hear the engine. nearly as much as my huffing and puffing to scramble up the steep path to the level top of Kelling heath.

up there large numbers of Mesolithic worked flints and waste from flint-working were recovered from in situ deposits. some of the flints are now thought to date to the Upper Palaeolithic. this landscape has a long history, not least in its geology, but without the timescale and continuity of memory that the Australian landscape has.