Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Devon: more prospect-refuge

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A couple of book covers caught my eye today as nice examples where Jay Appleton's prospect-refuge theory looks applicable (see again Landscapes in mind).

The first, from Eric R Delderfield's Just Wandering in Devon (Raleigh Press, Chapel Hill, Exmouth, 1954 - this reprint 1955), is pretty classic, with the foreground buildings as refuge and the road leading off to the coastline prospect. The composition, apart from the intruding giant signposts, is very similar to that on the Badger Brewery beer glass I mentioned last year (Prospect and refuge in a beer glass). The book itself is interesting; it's not a general travelogue but a batch of essays on topics that grabbed the author, including Eggeford, Molland, mining history of Heasley, wildlife of Devon, various churches, bellringing, Brayford stone quarry, Honiton's Leper Hospital, fire insurance history in Devon, vilage blacksmiths, a Crediton viola-maker, and the Golden Hermoina. Eric R Delderfield was, by the way, the brother of the novelist RF Delderfield. Both lived in Exmouth for part of their lives (their father William was editor of the Exmouth Chronicle, and the family and paper have a Blue Plaque) and were writers, but Eric specialised in travel guides rather than fiction. The Topsham Bookshop currently has a couple of copies of the book.

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The second image, with its village refuge and moorland/coast prospects, comes from a general guide to South Devon, Rambles in South Devon (Hugh E Page, 1949) published by British Rail. The walks are still extant; the rail links, unfortunately, are largely not, closed within a couple of decades of the book's publication.  For instance, the days when you could get to Lustleigh and Moretonhampstead via the Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway are long gone. The cover painting is by Chris Watkiss; the original - a 28 x 38cm done in gouache - sold for £320 in 2010 (see the Morphets catalogue entry). I haven't been able to find out much about the artist, except that he was a watercolourist and poster painter, Christopher David Watkiss, born in 1911 and active as an artist in the 1940s and 1950s.

- Ray

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