The Struggle of Life”

Weardale is a special place.”

The people who live, work and play out their lives amid the beauty and the harshness of the Northern Pennines know only too well the problems and opportunities that exist along the banks of the River Wear and contained within the boundaries of the contour hugging dry stone walls and the fells above the valley. All who work or have worked in the Dale are accustomed to the “Struggles of Life”. The seasons whenever they occur can be harsh and severe, welcoming and accommodating, yet always bring their own picture of natural beauty.

My family spent over twenty-five years in this community, growing up and working, playing and contributing to the day-to-day activity, and it is not surprising that it has had such an influence on my work as a textile artist. I have included many of my thoughts and feelings for this place in the design for a tapestry. The basic form for a figure has its origins in a piece of natural wood sculpture and a remarkable cleft in a rock structure. It has seemed to me that whenever and wherever I am in the Dale I am always looking over dry stonewalls. While the early dawn and dusk are evocative periods of the day, the night especially with a full moon has its own beauty and poignancy. This encompasses the unknown, the sadness and despair of the dark to the hope and promise of the light of the day.

The horizons of the fells go on and on forever, the skies ever changing and the reflections all combine to create a special atmosphere. All these add up to a place where the physical world meets the spiritual world and this for me represents a “tingle zone”. From these sources I found the colour palette and textures to contribute to the feelings contained in the tapestry.

It is the people in the community who make the Dale with their warmth and enthusiasm, their fortitude and zest for life and living. It is for these that this tapestry is dedicated as a celebration and a commemoration for all who live their lives in the splendour of Weardale.

This then is the background for my design. A figure representing a struggle is positioned astride the night and the day, the unknown and the known, of despairs and promise. All this amid the spiritual and physical worlds and incorporating the concepts of renewal and rebirth and the echoes of the crucifixion.

Michael Crompton 2007