Sunday, September 03, 2006

Country towns and rural landscapes (Part II)

After Winchelsea, we drove on into Rye, which we had spent a night in a couple of years ago. We had chosen a B&B in the centre of the town, the Durrant House Hotel, which was very pleasant, peaceful and relaxing. Rye, too, is unspoilt and very rural in its atmosphere, many of its buildings constructed in the familiar red brick and tile facades of East Sussex. One of the oldest buildings in the town, the Old Grammar School, now houses a specialist LP dealer which boasts an extremely noisy device for cleaning up old second hand records!

We were surprised and a little disappointed that an artist from whom we had bought a couple of prints on our last visit (Stan Rosenthal), had moved to nearby Hastings. Much of the rest of the art in the town is by no means as original as his work, and I can heartily recommend his book to anyone who likes the type of modern representational art in which shape and colour are the primary drivers of the artist's inspiration. Talking of books, the town boasts several excellent second hand and antiquarian booksellers. I managed to pick up a couple of useful art history books - Linda Nochlin's Realism and an interesting reader on theories of modern art - at bargain prices.

On Sunday we took a drive out to Dungeness, a desolate tract of shingle and scrub in southern Kent which houses one of Britain's nuclear power stations. It is also home to a community of delightfully eccentric shack dwellers and a couple of light houses, one of which has some interesting former keeper's dwellings, although, as with all Britain's lighthouses, it is now automated and unmanned. Nowadays the peninsula is probably most famous for Derek Jarman's garden.