I’VE been thinking about landscape recently, how it can give us a sense of belonging to an area, how it can speak to us, comfort or challenge us, and inspire creativity.

At my church we are in the midst of our Art in the Dale exhibition, which has grown out of an exciting collaboration between Malhamdale artists who have come together to show their work in the beautiful setting of St Michael’s Kirkby Malham.

As we came together to discuss our ideas it was striking how each person felt a sense of connection with the landscape, the colours of the limestone and the vegetation, and the flow of water through the Dale.

Artists spoke of how their work has grown out of being a part of the landscape, their experiences of it, and the different colours and feelings that are evoked by the changes in weather.

We spoke of how art ‘touches the soul’, and a sense of belonging was created as we discovered common themes. The idea of the water of life comes to mind for me, the spiritual essence of life that draws people to visit beautiful churches, to walk in the Dales, to experience the peace and ‘presence’ of a special place, and the connection with the ebb and flow of life that is somehow easier to reflect on when one is out in the landscape.

It may be that the last two years has given us cause to think again about life, to notice new features in the landscape around us, as well as to appreciate the people around us in new ways. May the landscape be our friend, our counsellor, and a blessing to us.

Rev Sue McWhinney,

Associate Priest, Kirkby-in-Malhamdale.