Ancient rock turns into work of art
George Bernard Shaw’s Hat Stand, which speaks volumes about the man.
Burton and Harland took the pictures for a book, Writers and Their Houses, published twenty years ago which featured essays by modernday writers about the homes of their predecessors. These included pieces by Melvyn Bragg on Wordsworth, Jeanette Winterson on Viriginia Woolf, PD James on Jane Austen and Seamus Heaney’s thoughts about fellow poet WB Yeats.
“The book was actually the idea of the Arts Council and they persuaded a publisher to do it,” says Walshaw who was born in York, brought up in Scarborough and is now based in Devon. “Peter and I were commissioned to take the photographs. We travelled all around the country and over to Ireland. It was a fantastic thing to do.”
Alongside the publication of the book, the Arts Council funded a touring exhibition which premiered at the Edinburgh Book Fair and then went into various venues around England.
The exhibition has been revived as a tribute to Burton, one of the country’s finest architectural photographers, who died, aged 87, in February this year. “The original exhibition finished its tour at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home in the Lake District, and they asked if they could keep it for a while,” says Walshaw. “It stayed there for some years and then it seemed to get lost, they didn’t know quite what had happened to it.”
Then last October Walshaw received a slightly embarrassed email explaining that the exhibition had been found in a cupboard under some stairs. “Luckily the photographs were in fantastic condition so we decided it was a good idea to show the exhibition again and the Stephen Joseph Theatre were keen to host it.”
Walshaw and Burton worked on many projects together and their photographs appear in around thirty books. “It’s very hard to separate who did what, although Peter did all the printing of the photographs,” says Walshaw.
“It was always a real team effort and we got to know how to work with each other. I learned so much about photography from Peter. He was my English teacher at school, Scarborough College – he was a huge influence on a lot of people and he inspired me by his love of architecture and photography.”
Burton, who was born in Whitby and taught in Ripon and Scarborough, was first discovered as a photographer by the poet John Betjeman and the artist John Piper when they were doing their Shell Guides to the counties of Britain. Burton became one of their principal photographers.
“I was up with Peter at Christmas when he got the photographs back,” says Walshaw. “So he was able to see them and he was thrilled that the exhibition was going to the Stephen Joseph Theatre.” A NEW video-based art installation has opened on the East Coast.
Artist Simon Pope took his inspiration from the large boulder which sits at the bottom of the resort’s Royal Avenue. The stone is what’s known as a glacial erratic and it was carried from Scotland to the Scarborough during the last Ice Age. The result of Pope’s research is The Outlier which can be seen at the town’s Rotunda Museum until September 28. For more details go to www. scarboroughmuseumstrust.org. uk