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This sentinel oak is an icon for challenge and change ahead

The Turning Year1

The Turning Year1 (14 Jan 2017)

This photo featured on the cover of Eynsham News issue 27, October-November 2017.

Eric White (© image above) wrote in an earlier issue about an idea for a long-term art project to document the proposed site of the ‘Garden Village’. Now some eight months on, he has scores of canvases, sketches and photos, and a host of memories, from many excursions across the A40. He is looking forward to the mists and colours of autumn so that he can add yet another layer of interpretation to these few hundred acres and complete a nearly full calendar year. We quote from his introduction below.

‘I have had no political agenda as such, but with this tract of farmland threatened by development I simply wanted to record it through the seasons for the benefit of future generations, to show what we have and may have lost.’

‘In January I was out in the early morning with frost on the ground; the oblique rays of the sun did little to counteract the cold, so with ungloved hands it was often difficult to hold a pencil. This was a time when, with the prospect of development on the not-too-distant horizon, the bare frames of the trees and hedgerows made the landscape look all the more vulnerable. Spring brought renewed hope with its profusion of blackthorn and hawthorn blossom in the hedges, and field margins decorated with the delicate lace of cow parsley.

‘Up above, the kestrels and the kites displayed their special talents as masters of the air, while down below the local troupe of deer kept their respectful distance. Summer came, the boughs and hedges now fully bedecked in weighty foliage and the grasses lush and heavy with morning dew or the wet of overnight rain, to present yet another version of a landscape to which I was becoming increasingly attached. My companions were now the squadrons of swifts, insouciant of my presence, darting across the open fields and effortlessly avoiding any obstacles in their path. With the air still, birdsong would drown out the murmur of distant traffic.

‘Apart from the daily dog walkers on paths close to the road, the occasional jogger or more energetic runner and the resident travellers, with whom I enjoyed many a friendly and informative chat about the neighbourhood woodpeckers, owls and herons, I have encountered very few walkers out and about. While I have relished my solitary state unbothered by passers-by, it saddens me to think that we have on our doorstep an asset which may soon disappear under concrete and asphalt but is enjoyed by relatively few.’

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