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Trees, Owls, Ruins and Altered Books

Recently I was commissioned to create an altered book with the simple suggestion of making it somewhat ‘foreboding’. I usually draw forest/woodland scenes – leafy undergrowth, gnarled trees, roots – but this time I thought I’d add a human element, a ruined house. One can’t get more foreboding than a ruined house at night. (I love ruins, especially when you stumble on them accidently…)

Ruined Chapel, Norfolk
Ruined Chapel, Norfolk

I started thinking more about ruins then and I suppose I have a favourite ruin, Baconsthorpe Castle in Norfolk, a fifthteenth century fortified manor house. It is supposed to be haunted – a watchman walks the ruined walls and throws pebbles into the moat. The setting of Baconsthorpe adds to its ominous ambience – isolated in fields, bleak in winter, a few leafless trees silhouetted against the sunset, the presence of crows, the mist of dead teasel and willowherb. When I visited a few years ago, a barn owl appeared in the evening light and beat the ruin bounds. (I’ve written about my barn owl experience in the book that I’m writing. See my illustration for it below.)

Baconsthorpe Castle
A view of part of Baconsthorpe Manor
Barn Owl at Baconsthorpe
Barn Owl at Baconsthorpe
Baconsthorpe Castle Watchtower
Baconsthorpe Castle Watchtower

So I was thinking of Baconsthorpe when I added the ruined building to one of my recent altered books.

Ruin Through the Trees Altered Book
Ruin Through the Trees Altered Book (click on the image to enlarge.)

I have now listed a few new altered books in my website shop. They’re also available in my Etsy shop. If you would like a book altered with a theme of your choosing, it would be great to discuss it with you. Contact me here.

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