The Old School Welcomes the Abstract Landscapes of Gill Waugh

Fresh for her successful exhibition at Simonstone Hall in Wensleydale, The Old School Muker is very pleased to welcome the wonderful, abstract landscapes of Gill Waugh.

Ribblehead, Misty Light, Gill Waugh | The Old School Muker
Ribblehead, Misty Light detail Gill Waugh | The Old School Muker

Gill’s work take us from the Yorkshire Dales to the Outer Hebrides, invoking the moods, atmosphere and beauty, they both share, lovingly worked in acrylic and ink …

Uist Beach, Gill Waugh | The Old School Muker
Uist Beach detail, Gill Waugh | The Old School Muker

… and the vibrant, abstract, style adds another stunning dimension to the range of work we showcase at The Old School.

Richard & Polly 

Gill’s Artist Statement 

The dreamlike mists on my home loch and the light and dark of our amazing weather are a constant source of wonder and inspiration; in the Yorkshire Dales, magical low-lying evening light draws me back time and time again, as do empty wet stretches of silvery sand in the Outer Hebrides…
I hope my work conveys the emotion I feel whilst looking at the subject – and that I’ve tried to record that delight when I’m back in my studio.
I create abstract landscapes, taking from the natural textures and colours which move me – whether it’s lichen on an ancient tree or feathery weed swirling in the clear water of our loch. I take endless closeup photos of such treasures and refer to them, initially, for inspiration in my paintings. I work by building up many layers of acrylic paint and letting brilliant inks flow into the textured surfaces – the chemistry between water-based and waterproof media is fascinating; although they repel each other at first, they come together as they dry, forming complex and organic patterns.

Malham Rain, Sue Nichol

In December 2015 Malham Cove waterfall flowed for the first time in Living Memory, briefly creating the longest single drop waterfall in the UK.

Malham Cove Rain, Sue Nichol | The Old School Muker

Sue Nichol’s atmospheric oil painting captures this moment perfectly, with the water spilling over into the cove, framed by the trees at it’s foot, and overlooked by dark clouds full of rain.

Malham Cove Rain detail, Sue Nichol | The Old School Muker
Malham Cove Rain detail, Sue Nichol | The Old School Muker

I can’t imagine it being at in the Old School Gallery, so if you liked to see this wonderful painting visit soon!

The Old School Welcomes Hester Cox

The Old School is extremely pleased to welcome in the work of Horton-in-Ribblesdale artist and print maker Hester Cox.

Silent Night, Hester Cox

Hester’s work is inspired by and reflects the natural rhythms of the natural world that  that surrounds her home in the Yorkshire Dales and that she passes whilst out on the tops, fell running.

Where the Curlew Cries, Hester Cox
Flying Home to Roost, Hester Cox

Hester’s collagraphs are a wonderful addition to our growing portfolio of print makers at the Old School and I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

More about Hester below.

Richard & Polly

Artist Statement

“My printmaking is informed by my surroundings and wherever I am I seek out evidence of the natural world that is particular to that environment. I have lived in rural places most of my working life and I am fascinated by the rhythms and cycles that occur within nature. Whilst an idea may be sparked by the written word, it is invariably my physical experience of a place that inspires new work.

As a fell runner, my excursions often take me to wilder less visited locations in all weathers. The physicality of running combined with the solitude and necessary awareness of my environment creates a connection with the landscape that lasts long after I have returned to the studio. Revisiting the same areas provides me with the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the more elusive wildlife that inhabits them. It is these chance encounters that I find most exciting and that will often be translated into print. I carry a camera to record details and sketch and write notes to distil my ideas.”

Piers Browne, Illustrated – Exhibition Catalogue

The catalogue for the upcoming Pier’s Browne Illustrated exhibition is now available.

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The catalogue measures 21cm x 21cm and contains 31 selected reproductions of Pier’s etchings, printed on 170g uncoated paper. The catalogues also contains a full price list (including dimensions) for the work on show.

The catalogue costs £5 plus £2 p&p. To request a copy please email

About the Exhibition 

Piers Browne Illustrated for the first (and perhaps last) time brings together a specially curated set of over 70 etchings taken from the seven books of celebrated painter, printmaker, poet and author, Piers Browne, published between 1988 and 2018.

The exhibition runs from 1st – 30th September in the Hartlake Gallery and Piers will be at The Old School on the afternoon of Sunday 2nd September to discuss his work and inspiration.

For more about the show and about The Old School Gallery & Craftshop please contact Richard Walls on 01748 886155 or at, or contact Piers at

About Piers Browne

Piers Browne trained at London’s Royal Academy Schools in the early 1970’s before settling in Wensleydale in 1975 to become a professional artists and printmaker.  He has exhibited at the annual Royal Academy Summer Show multiple times and held one man shows from “Malibu to Munster, via Manchester and Reykjavik”. Piers has published eight books illustrated by his etchings and oils, including Glorious Trees of Great Britain, with a foreword by HRH, Prince Charles, the culmination of over 15 years work containing 167 full-colour etchings.

Piers continues to be inspired by, and concerned for, the natural world. In his own words:  “Overwhelmingly the desire to capture the beauty of Nature continues to drive me on. I am still a depicter of the rural scene, a sort of conservator of the beauty of light and form. I have compensated for my indulgence by donating money and books to conservation groups, but need to do more as this world crumbles away in heat and flood from ‘our’ indulgence in polluting it“.






James Wheeler –

James Wheeler’s paintings have been part of the Old School since the days before we took over the gallery back in April 2017 and we’re pleased that the association continues and grows stronger over the months and years.

Moor Entrance, James Wheeler | The Old School Muker

Of all our artists it is Jame’s work that I’m reminded as I make my way off Shunner Fell at dusk or walk along Occupation Lane on one of those atmospheric days Upper-Swaledale throws at you from time to time; the patterns and textures of the landscape, the lonely field barns and farm houses, all lying under a brooding, heavy sky.

Moor Textures, James Wheeler | The Old School Muker

Using oil on cork, James perfectly captures the drama and atmosphere of our surroundings and next year we hope to be able to showcase Jame’s original work in the Hartlake gallery. Watch this space!

Muker Doors Series, John Harrison

For the Up Hill & Down Dale exhibition John Harrison has drawn and watercoloured five studies of characterful Muker doors, all familiar sights to those who stroll around our wonderful Dales village, including the feature image above, Double Red Doors.

Green Doors, Muker, John Harrison | The Old School Muker
Blue Door & Drainpipe, Muker, John Harrison | The Old School Muker
Two Red Doors, Muker, John Harrison | The Old School Muker
Green Door, Muker, John Harrison | The Old School Muker

Up Hill & Down Dale, John Harrison

PLEASE NOTE: In a change of plan John will now be at the Old School on Sunday 15th July rather than Saturday 9th.

Running between Saturday 30th June & Sunday 29th July the Old School is proud to showcase the wonderful line and watercolour drawings of Yorkshire artist John Harrison  in our Hartlake Gallery.


John’s work is featured each month in the Dalesman Magazine and last year John took part in Sky TV’s Landscape Artist of the Year.


The exhibition features over 20 original paintings, many of which depict our very own Muker and the surrounding villages and countryside, will take us Up Hill & Down Dale, with a short detour to Yorkshire’s stunning coastal villages.

John will be at the Old School on on Sunday 15th July to talk about his work and inspiration, don’t miss it!

Ivelet Bridge Winter, Sue Nichol

Back in the winter, soon after Christmas, I donned my new wellies and took a photo of Ivelet Bridge from the middle of the Swale. As soon I’d taken it I knew it was a scene that would benefit from Sue’s unique interpretation, and was delighted when she agreed.

Ivelet Bridge Detail | Sue Nichol
Ivelet Bridge Detail | Sue Nichol

The result is now hanging in our gallery, one mile up the road from the the bridge, and we simply love it.


Up Hill & Down Dale, John Harrison

Between 30th June & 29th July, The Old School is proud to present Up Hill & Down Dale (with a short detour to the coast), a solo exhibition by Drawn in Yorkshire’s John Harrison, as regularly featured in the Dalesman, Yorkshire’s favourite Magazine.

Rupert the Bear, the Eagle, Dandy & Beano, Superman, Batman … For Yorkshire born John Harrison, these, and many more, were early influences. In fact, the very first time John read a Rupert Bear story he just knew he wanted to draw (and be in) those wonderful scenes of an idyllic world. The pen and ink style of all this childhood reading influenced John to a greater extent than he first realised – after trying out most other media John came full circle and for the last few years has worked almost exclusively in a line and wash style. For John it feels the most natural thing in the world and that feeling shines through in his work.

On Saturday 7th July John will be at the Old School to talk about his work, influences and inspiration.


The exhibition will be upstairs in our new Hartlake Gallery exhibition space.

10 Winter Cow’uses, Upper Swaledale

According to the National Park figures there are 1044 field barns, locally called Cow’uses, in Swaledale alone and over 6000 in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, most built between 1750 and the end of the 19th century.

The 10 below (shots taken over the last few weeks and days) are situated around Muker, Thwaite and Keld, in upper Swaledale and most are common sights as we drive up and down the Dale we call home. It will take a good few years and a few inches of boot leather to collect the whole set, but if  you like a nice Cow’us you know where to come!

More background can be found at Every Barn Tells a Story on the National Park Website











The Drawings of Nolan Stacey

New for 2018, The Old School is very pleased to welcome the pencil and charcoal drawings of Nolan Stacey, superbly illustrating the wildlife that lives beside us in the Yorkshire Dales.


When we visited Nolan’s gallery back in November, so many drawings caught our eye, but it was the charcoal drawings of Ravens (a favourite since first reading Tolkien’s The Hobbit as a kid) that I enthused about as we drove home to Muker. The detail of the Raven, combined with the dreamy quality of foreground and background, to my eye turns the work into something unique and special, and though my guess is that it will be Nolan’s wonderfully observed studies of Swaledale sheep and hares that will prove the most popular, for me it will be always be Raven IV.

Richard & Polly

The Old School welcomes Piers Browne

The Old School is delighted and thrilled to showcase the work of celebrated painter, printmaker, author and composer, Piers Browne, who lives and works just “over the top” from our gallery, in a farmhouse commanding the most beautiful views of his beloved Wensleydale. Piers’s work will feature in our main gallery and in our Yorkshire’s Coast & Sea Exhibition in April & May, and signed copies of his epic book, THE GLORIOUS TREES OF GREAT BRITAIN, containing 167 etchings made over a period of 20 years, will be available to purchase.


Unlike many art prints, all of Pier’s etchings are genuine prints, run through the press in his workshop. Each one is lovingly created by hand, inked by hand, printed by hand and signed to say genuine. Made by hand, no two prints are exactly the same; each is therefore an individual, original, work of art.



Currently on display in the GalleryDSC04576Title: May Plum Blossom: Towards upper Wensleydale with Swallows

Medium: Etching

Size: H63xW71cm Framed

Price: £695

DSC04581Title: Winter Sun: Hardraw Force, Wensleydale

Medium: Etching

Size: H97xW76cm Framed

Price: £695

DSC04577Title: Wensleydale in Springtime, the Kiss

Medium: Etching

Size: H47xW40cm Framed

Price: £265

DSC04578Title: Ash Grove

Medium: Etching

Size: H35xW33cm Framed

Price: £195

We have more framed etchings in stock and prints in our browsers. Please ask.

In Piers’s own words …

PIERS BROWNE has had 100 exactly One-man’s worldwide, from Malibu to Munster in Westphalia, and knows nothing really works in a picture unless the love, the initial inspiration, is passionate right until the last brushmark or final line drawn on the etching plate(s).

He has made Wensleydale his adored valley and over 40 years has ventured ‘over the top’, indeed when first painting here in1972, it was the Farmer’s Arms he loved to visit of a summer evening.

He was made Painter of North England in the prestigious ING Discerning Eye show in London, 2011, and ‘PAINTER OF THE NORTH’ in the 2012 Great North Art Show, and regularly shows at the RA Summer Exhibition. But turned more to book writing and illustrating when from 1980 to 2000 he made 167 etchings for a book he co-wrote called THE GLORIOUS TREES OF GREAT BRITAIN – a book of only 400 of 4000 copies left which these gallery owners like so much Piers is making this gallery his main TREES book outlet!

His aim is bring fresh air and exciting compositions into anyone’s sitting room on any dank, dark, dank British day with his novella (33,000 words 29 images): “LA ROUTE DES VIOLETTES’ set in south-east Provence which is also here. This is being reprinted for a huge edition as some french people say it will sell in thousands over there! certainly it’s been translated into french. The edition here was a first effort and self published in 500 copies – now 250 as PB not happy with the printing or quality of picture which, on suoper papoer, became darker.

Piers will always etch and paint: there is so much beauty about – as at Saltburn or Sandsend…and has released a rare oil of radshanks for this gallery’s opening.


1974 & 1975 David Murray Landscape Prize, London

1975 Certificate of Painting after 3 years’s at the Royal Academy Schools

1986 Rank Xerox Printmaking Prize 1986 London

1987 John Player Portrait Award 2nd Prize National Portrait Gallery

1987 Norsk Hydro Painting Award, Darlington

Late 1990’s: supplied 100 etchings for P&O”Aurora’s State Rooms

1991 WHSmith Illustrated Book of the Year/joint First prize with Wordsworth book

2009 Artichoke Printmaking Award, London

2011 Made ‘Painter of the North’ in the London DISCERNING EYE show

2012 Winner of The Great North Art Show, Ripon Cathedral

2012-17 Five One-mans and 2017, as ever a picture in the NEAC, central London, then writing and illustrating his first novella set in Provence “A ROUTE DES VIOLETTES” .


Melvyn Bragg: “I am full of admiration for Piers’ lovely work.”

HRH Prince Charles, who wrote the foreword to the Trees book: “Trees also have a unique capacity to lift our spirits, and it is entirely this intangible dimension that Piers Browne evokes so splendidly.”

Giles Auty (Art Critic in UK 1965 – 80): “Piers is a true Romantic dedicated simply to his Art.”

Justine Brooks: “What energy the man has – a good painter-etcher”

Diana Armfield RA & her husband Bernard Dunstan RA: “We both admire the wonderful intensity of Piers’ vision, and, in some of his Oils, the handling with its rythmn of paint marks

makes for a strange beauty all of their own. His etchings are superb”.



A Shropshire Lad 1988 25 handmade books Kingsley Amis foreword publ Ashford Buchan & Enright.SOLD OUT.

An Elegy in Arcady 1990 20 boxed sets SOLD OUT.

William Wordsworth: A Lakeland Anthology 1991John Mortimer foreword. Publ John Murray.SOLD OUT.

Wensleydale: Etchings & Verse 1994 David Astor foreword. Publ Ashford Press SOLD OUT.

Glorious Trees of Gt Britain 2002 HRH Pr Charles foreword. Publ John Murray. 400 remaining of 4000

Sonnets for a Siren 2008 20 handmade books + real silver jackets. 27 sonnets by PB. To be published

Love in the Aegean 2011 Soft back, fully illustrated from paintings by PB with 24 of his shorter poems.

La Route des Violettes Hard back ed 500, illustrated from 29 etchings by PB – a novella of 100 pages



Conversations at the Old School – Sigma Foveon Cameras

A wonderful thing about working in the Old School Gallery is the many conversations we have with the folks who visit; whether it’s the American lady who suddenly recited three Robert Frost poems, or the ex RAF Nimrod pilot who told me tales of flying over the North Atlantic, or the Chinese film maker recently returned from Tibet. We learn so much in these conversations and hopefully give a little back on the subject of art, crafts and photography.

Ivelet Bridge, Swaledale | Sigma DP0 Quattro

A recurring conversation concerns Sigma’s “secret” cameras with their magic Foveon sensors. The trigger is the overheard debate between customers, discussing whether an image is a photograph or painting. It quickly moves on to the vibrant colours and immense detail, even in the far distance … and that brings us to the technical bit about Bayer sensors and Foveon sensors, micro-contrast, photons and wavelengths.

Muker Meadows Sea | Sigma DP0 Quattro

If the technical bit doesn’t kill the customer off they invariably buy the print! … And one camera club member liked the print so much he returned to say he’d bought the camera!

Muker Meadows, Swaledale | Sigma DP0 Quattro

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the top selling photographs in the gallery are taken by the Sigma DP0 Quattro. It offers something different from Bayer sensored cameras that the buying public seem to be instinctively drawn to, unbiased and unburdened by any technical knowledge or heavyweight marketing budgets. And as a photographer it provides me with a distinctive, unique, tool with which to capture the stunning scenery that surrounds our tiny village in upper Swaledale.









Making Tracks in the Dales

So many tracks, which to follow?

Above Askrigg, Wensleydale | Sony RX1rII
Above Askrigg, Wensleydale | Sony RX1rII
Pennine Way, Swaledale | Sony RX1rII
Occupation Lane, Swaledale | Sony RX1rII


Occupation Lane, Swaledale | Sony RX1rII
Occupation Lane, Swaledale | Sony RX1rII
Track to Muker, Swaledale | Sony RX1rII

Discovering History At Muker – Wain Wath Force

My short journey to reach the Cart Ford above the Foss, where you cross the Rushing River, began by The Small Cultivated Field. I passed through The Clearing, then on up the Dale, gaining height as I climbed through Grazing Land. If I’d been visiting my friend Waendel at his Woodland Clearing I’d have taken the pass before The Clearing, careful not to stumble and fall into the potholes full of cooling butter, and down past Sigemund’s Rock, or perhaps climbed up the hill to see if Sjon was at his Look Out Hill, then down past the Row of Shepherds Cottages. But today it was to the Cart Ford I was headed, to take photographs of the Foss and just beyond The Spring I found the very spot.


(Translations below 🙂 )


Below Wain Wath Force | Sigma DP0 Quattro  


Below Wain Wath Force |Sigma DP3 Merrill
Below Wain Wath Force | Sigma DP3 Merrill
Below Wain Wath Force | Sigma DP3 Merrill

Old Norse & Old English Translations, with thanks to

Cart Ford (Wain Wath)

Foss (Waterfall)

Rushing River (Swale)

The Small Cultivated Field (Muker)

The Clearing (Thwaite)

The Grazing Land (Angram)

The Spring (Keld)

Sigemund’s Rock (Simonstone)

Sjon’s look out hill (Shunner Fell)

Shepherds Row  of Cottages (Hardraw).

Waendel at his Woodland Clearing (Wensleydale)





Discovering Muker – Wild Flower Meadows

The Muker wild flower meadows are beginning to come into their own in early June, which for me means a desperate search for interesting angles and compositions.  The image below is my favourite hand held “sketch” so far and I’ll head out early tomorrow with a tripod and (hopefully) interesting light.


The meadows are an inspiration for artists and photographers alike, with the vibrant colours of Buttercups, Clover and Crane’s-bill, scattered all around, broken by the staight lines of dry stone walls and field barns.


The Sigma DP0 Quattro is fast becoming my camera of choice for the meadows; its wide lens capturing immense foreground and its colour rendition and tonal rage showing the wild flows at their best, whether in colour or monochrome.


Discovering Upper Swaledale – Muker to Keld

An early morning walk from Muker to Keld, and back via Angram, to judge the morning mood. The weather was overcast, and light flat, until I arrived back at Muker, at which point the sun decided to come out, and then stay out all day. Sods law.


Track to Muker | Sony RX1rII


Looking back to Buttertubs | Sony RX1rII
Angram | Sony RX1rII



Upper Swaledale | Sony RX1rII
Straw Beck, Muker | Sony RX1rII

Muker Monochrome – Year of Discovery

Our new life in Muker, Swaledale at the Old School, provides the opportunity to explore the countryside around, understand the light,  read the weather, revisit scenes as the seasons pass, judge the moods, and develop a feel for the landscape with an intimacy I’ve never had the opportunity to do before. I’m sure it will take a year or two before I have a portfolio worthy of the landscape, but  discovery is my favourite part of the process, and the process has begun.


Track to Muker | Sony RX1rII
Neighbours | Sony RX1rII
On the path to Thwaite | Sony RX1rII

New Life, Muker

Again it’s been quite some time since I troubled the blog with a new post, but since Nepal I’ve had no time to pick up a camera, let alone point it in the right direction,  but there’s good reason …

… in that we’ve upped sticks, moved North, and bought an Art Gallery and Craftshop in the tiny village of Muker, Swaledale, and opened on Thursday 13th April.

It’s been a busy few months but the couple of snaps below might just provide a taste of why it’s worth the effort!

The gallery’s website is, and if you’re ever travelling in the area, feel free to drop by.

Evening walk above Muker | Sony RX1rII
Foveon Sky’s from the Garden | Sigma DP3 Merrill