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Worcester Bridge to Bevere Island

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Walking north from Worcester I followed the Severn Way passing by numerous houses, sunken boats, through meadows and a pub garden (which was unfortunately closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown). A fair variety of trees, other plants and birds on this stretch...and the bright autumnal light helped give the river a more inviting colour than its usual muddy brown. As soon as the paved section of the path ended, I was pretty much alone for the majority of the journey, but there was the occasional walker sliding their way through the mud. The path gets alarmingly close to the water’s edge on several occasions and this along with the mud resulted in a slow, careful pace. Bevere Island  has a picturesque weir and a bridge that is on the verge of being considered a ruin. Being on the other side of the river would have helped as it may have given me a better view of the island. The history of this location isn’t necessarily obvious from its appearance but it has reputably been a place of sanctuar

I Am Many Stories

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When I began investigating the River Severn, my research went in several directions such as stories of fishermen, flooding, battles, folktales and industry. I decided to combine these early investigations into one illustration, in response to the Cheltenham Illustration Award 2020 call for submissions. The brief was to respond to the statement ‘I Am Many Stories’, which seems to me an apt way of describing this river.

The Lave Net Fishermen

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These drawings are made from archive photographs and documentary footage that show the now rare practice of lave net fishing. The moments before and after the photos were taken intrigue me and I can imagine the men wading into the river, then visualising huge salmon leaping into their nets as they stand in the freezing water, hoping for a catch.

Upton-upon-Severn to the Queenhill Viaduct (M50)

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  I adopted a ‘downstream, upstream’ route for this walk (as I did in Worcester), which fits in with my usual practice when location drawing. I often drift around a location and do a sort of lap, making mental notes of places to draw, before committing to a prolonged drawing. Obviously if something fleeting catches my eye whilst I’m doing this I try to capture it with a sketchbook or camera. My plan for these river walks is that I spot potential drawing sites walking to the mid-point and then engage in drawing on my return. This stretch of the river is quiet, and the path hugs the bank quite closely passing through farmland and flood plain. The unusual buildings of Upton help create a picturesque view, behind the sheep grazing. There are points of industry along the way-large vessels which I believe carry sand dredged from the river (certainly a subject I will return to draw) and what looks like a water treatment site. The directional signs that populate certain stretches of water appe

Sea Change

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  This illustration was made for a University of Worcester research project, called ‘ Sea Change ’. I designed it in response to an article in The Guardian highlighting how water companies regularly discharge huge quantities of raw sewage into England’s rivers.

Worcester to Diglis Bridge

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Walking this loop, once downstream and then in reverse, provided me with a good understanding of this small, but busy section of the river. The stretch is dominated by Worcester Cathedral and the reasons for its proximity to the river requires further investigation. It could be an indication of the river’s importance within trade that helped fund the cathedral. but being near a main transport artery must have helped in the delivery of the raw materials in its construction. It is the site where the remains of the ‘Cockleshell Pilgrim’ (assumed to be one ‘Robert Sutton’) where discovered. The account of his pilgrimage, written by Katherine Lack ( https://spckpublishing.co.uk/cockleshell-pilgrim-pb ) initiated this entire project. I made some work inspired by this story for the ‘Enchanted Environments’ symposium at the University of Worcester, which can be seen here: https://ardillustration.com/the-cockleshell-pilgrim . There are several small platforms at the water’s edge that suggest cr

Lydney Harbour

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When driving back to Malvern from Chepstow in September, I made a quick detour to Lydney Harbour. The ugly industrial area that I passed through didn’t fill me with much hope, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a small harbour filled with an eclectic collection of vessels, some of which seemed to have been stationary for some time. Two huge gates held in the water and gave protection from the Severn’s tides. An Ice Cream van was doing good business and families were strolling around, enjoying the wide views across the Severn. A friendly old chap was engaging as many people as possible, drawing attention to a stone monument that was placed there to commemorate the Severn Railway Bridge disaster. On a foggy night in 1960 two barges collided, creating what must have been an apocalyptic fireball, they then smashed into and destroyed the railway bridge that spanned the river. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severn_Railway_Bridge I was aware of this terrible event, but having a clear view

Beachley

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During the summer I made a couple of visits to my mother’s home near Chepstow, which enabled me to walk the banks of the Severn where it becomes an estuary. I’m very familiar with this location, from growing up a couple miles away. The car park sits directly underneath the old Severn Bridge, which rumbles as lorries cross over it between England and Wales. Beachley is on a peninsula sitting between the Wye and Severn, it is the point at which many generations have crossed the river by ferry and the old slipway to the Aust Ferry, which falls into the murky water. It is now usually frequented by fishermen rather than ferry commuters. The bridge is still a spectacular site and the story of its construction is fascinating. The river both helped and hindered the men given this daunting task. The huge sections of the span were floated downstream before being lifted into the sky, but the formidable tide and currents claimed a number of lives during the construction. I recommend watching, Brid