WATER colours depicting the derelict and decaying out-barns of Bowland form this autumn’s thought- provoking exhibition at the Gallery on the Green in Settle.

Artist, Peter Osborne was moved to paint these once fine buildings not just by the way they look, but in order to draw attention to the impending loss of many examples of superb craftsmanship and the habitat they provide for today’s wildlife.

He says: “These old barns are reaching their end. Unwanted and abandoned, the lovely remains of an old way of farming life are still an important part of our heritage and of our landscape. But who will act to save them.

“A few out-barns are well-maintained by careful farmers, as indeed are nearly all barns near road or farmstead."

He adds: "These can be used for storage of vehicles or equipment. But for most out-barns things are different; approachable only by path, track or just rough ground, their only use for farmers is for sheep to find occasional shelter. Such minimal use does not justify the cost to struggling farmers of re-roofing and other repair. Decay in roof timbers quickly leads to the slippage of roofing slabs. Ingress of water hastens decay and, in turn, seeps into, splits and cracks the walls. But what is also lost is a habitat for wildlife."

The watercolours are the result of an effort, on long walks over field and fell, to record what is left of our ancient barns.

"As well as being essentially accurate depictions of their state, they are also affected by sadness at seeing them so, particularly in their landscape importance.

"Almost every path in the area is enlivened by one of these features, built in the local stone by the superb craftsmen of our villages in the past.

“As barns become roofless and soon ruined, habitat is lost for barn owls and other species.”

The Gallery on the Green, which is housed in a former telephone box, considers itself an appropriate venue for this exhibition since its transformation from a phone box to an art gallery demonstrates that the end of one use does not necessary signal the end of a building’s worth.

This year the gallery marks it tenth anniversary having staged more than 70 exhibitions since it opened in May 2009.

Peter Osborne first learnt to paint and draw as a boy with the bird artist Rowland Green. After two degrees, the second in Art History at the Courtauld Institute, he worked in art schools eventually becoming Head of the Blackburn School of Art and Design.

The exhibition opens on September 7 and runs until November 7.