"I’ve lived at Nappa since 1975. Fantastic place for children. It’s got a bit busy though – it’s a bit like the Lakes now here. I remember thirty years ago Geoffrey Moorhouse saying to me, “You know, I can’t believe it, I think this place is going downhill, there’s a tearoom here now!”
God put me here to be a landscape painter in this beautiful landscape. I thought, “here I am in heaven – if you can’t paint here, you can’t paint anywhere.” I love painting. I say, “if you like it, put it down in paint.” Paintings will last long after you’re dead, you know? Terrifying thought, these things.
Cezanne said that a picture is finished with every stroke. That’s important, just in case I drop dead. No one likes funerals. Ridiculous things. Gives the church a bit of pocket money. “We all meet at the end”, they say, “In the afterlife – Jesus promised.” Having seen an angel I can’t muck around. Some people have said to me that it’s exactly the right job for me. The right screw in the right hole, and I really do feel that. I could have been anything but I wanted to be an artist. It’s a lovely sensuous thing, art.
It was really free once. I could wander round the fields before they were all fenced off. There were cows every night at six o clock wandering in to be milked by hand. I milked the cows by hand – not very well, obviously!
I always use a lot of cotton buds, and they worry in the chemist that I’ve got badly blocked ears. Actually I just need them for swabbing my etchings. Every print from an etching is an original. I ink slowly and surely. It’s not like a print where you just push a button. That’s me. I paint up here. I etch down there. And out there is my subject matter. Wensleydale."
Piers Browne is an artist based in Wensleydale.
This is an interview from my 2019 “Dalesfolk” book. For more information, go here: http://gullwingphotography.co.uk/dalesfolk/