35. "Mendip Marriage."
Bas-relief carving, in meadow oak, 6'3" long, 2'5" at its widest point.
When we moved to the West Country we bought a detached house in a village. Peter was able to resume carving without having to worry about disturbing any neighbours whilst working late into the night. We had escaped city life. I had a garden for growing flowers and vegetables and we were able to walk into open country from our own front door. We explored the surrounding countryside in our car, an old split-screen Morris Minor. It was a pleasure to discover misericords and small carvings in the Somerset churches and to sit in the open air to draw the nature all around us.
Peter made a drawing of a quarry on the Mendips, perching on the hillside for a bird's eye view of the activity below him. When he brought the drawing home we studied it. The empty area of paper in the foreground looked to us like the hip of a reclining woman and this was the starting point for the resulting carving, "Mendip Marriage."
Two brothers owned an old wood yard in the village. They had an intimate knowledge of their stock and Peter would often call in to talk to them on Saturday mornings. They were a mine of information. He bought some beautiful oak panels from a tree that, by a happy coincidence, had been growing in the area where he had made his drawing. By counting the rings we were able to estimate that the tree would have been growing on that hillside in the early sixteen hundreds, before the Civil War and the Great Fire of London.
This carving transports me back to our early married life; it was the first of many that chart our life together.