Turner and the stealth bird

JMW Turner, Crimson Sunset
JMW Turner, Crimson Sunset (1835), © Tate, London 2011

In April and May, when these islands in the far north-west are caught in a northerly air flow the long days are bathed in sunlight. The cold air brings a crystalline clarity to the light and on calm days the distant islands of the archipelago appear to float on the horizon. We have not entered the period of the white nights so the as the day ends the sun is extinguished by the sea as it melts into the heavens.
On clear evenings when there are no clouds to give drama to the sunscape, the colours suffuse along the horizon in a glowing band of pink and yellow. As the colours slowly metamorphose into the night sky a ghostly apparition drifts past the window. The tail closed and straight, the wings slightly raised in a V-formation, as pale as moonlight, hunting by stealth: a male Hen Harrier on a crepuscular patrol. The merest twitch of the tail and angling of the wings and he’s gone.  Slowly the colours fade and the night sky changes from madonna to deep blue adorned by the diadem of Venus rising.
The islands have been weaving their enchanters spell once again. This was not a night for the technology, to capture this magic you need the artistry of Turner.

22 thoughts on “Turner and the stealth bird”

  1. Perhaps not one of the best of the Turner sketches, but it was the only one I could find. There was a wonderful exhibition of his Margate sunsets preliminary watercolours at the Tate in Liverpool a few years ago – absolutely stunning. However, I know that Turner is not to everyone’s taste, but if ever you get a chance to see the real thing do give it a go.

  2. Each of us has our own perception our what is the perfect sunset – I have a preference for the soft wtaery one rather than the brilliant techicolour

  3. I just discovered your blog this week at Blotanical and am finding it delightful. (I think I’m especially intrigued because I’m in the stage of planning for retirement.) I do a monthly “Garden blogs of the month” feature on my blog, Jean’s Garden, where I review and recommend newly discovered blogs that I think my readers would enjoy. Your blog is one of two that I am highlighting this month. My post with the reviews just went up (http://jeansgarden.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/garden-blogs-of-the-month-may-2012/), and your blog will be featured on my sidebar for the next several weeks.

  4. Thank you Jean, I really appreciate your kind words and I’ll be visiting your lovely garden regularly. I loved my previous life, but “retirement” is perfection. Not quite what we planned, but sometimes you throw the plan in the trash and follow the dream.

  5. I love your prose–and the painting. It captures the ‘feel’ of your croft, as it appears in your photos. You have an eye for art, as shown in other posts also…your land brings to my mind Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper as well, very lean and evocative.

  6. Hi Calvin, thank you. This is a large sparse landscape – where the land, sea and sky merge, sort of prairies at the seaside. It is not for everyone but I love it, especially the ever changing quality of light, a limited colour paleete but very dramatic nevertheless. I’m familar with the work of Edward Hopper but I’d not come across Winslow Homer – so thank you for the introduction.

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