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What did she see when she walked out?

From Monk's House by Ashley Hyland. Watercolour.. 4"x6" Catalogue no. AH023.

Was it freedom she felt as she stepped out into the fields? Her feet knew the way from the hours she spent walking to Charleston, walking home to Rodmell. I am sure life slowed in those moments.

Virginia Woolf walked to see her sister, Vanessa Bell. Her garden overlooked this field, past the beautiful roses, cottage flowers and hedges she could glimpse grand cliffs and the turn of the river Ouse. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant's famous garden at Charleston was her destination on those walks.

Living on both sides of the river, first near Rodmell and now near Charleston, I have often thought of these two sisters and their walks across the Downs. The day I made this painting, Monk's House was closed for winter when I arrived, so I spent the most valuable day there I have ever had - in the field next door thinking about Virginia and watching the sun bounce off the cliffs as I painted.

My notes on the back of the painting read:

"Looking out from Rodmell field towards Lewes - Snowdrop Cliffs. Geese flying by. Tractor glinting on hill. With kids on the way to Monk’s House which was closed. Beautiful day - felt a bit like Autumn is here. View of Lewes Castle from this field is interesting."

Later, I painted a large 36"x48" oil painting on canvas, "Snowdrop Cliffe Lewes" from this drawing. (AH024). I am not sure that I am finished with that field or thinking about Virginia and her walks.

"From Monk's House" by Ashley Hyland

Approx. 4" x 6" watercolour on handmade paper. Catalogue no. AH023.

Painted from a field next to Monk's House, Rodmell, Sussex (Virginia and Leonard Woolf's house, National Trust).


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