John Davis Book Review

Jewels Beyond the Plough A Celebration of Britain’s Grassland

Langford Press: ISBN 978-1-904078-41-8

Jewels Beyond the Plough is another beautiful book in the Wildlife Art Series from Langford Press. Showcasing the paintings of SWLA member John Davis the reader is transported to the much-threatened habitats of Britain’s dwindling grasslands. From the chalk downland of Davis’ native Southern England to the far flung machair of the Scottish Hebrides, the book is a visual delight. John enthuses about his task:

‘Sitting in a hay meadow in June with swallows skimming the grass tops and listening to a constant cascade of skylark song from somewhere high overhead, it didn’t seem much like work. But the job in hand was to try and get down that intoxicating combination of colours from buttercups, knapweeds, greater burnet and a host of other wonderful plants that go to make up that rare thing, a hay meadow.

It was a chance to focus my efforts in that brief season of summer and go to places that otherwise I would have missed, and to spend time in those seemingly timeless places.  My only regret is that time did keep running out and I found myself having to dash to the next site.

I don’t think I could pick a favourite, but Widdy Bank Farm in Upper Teesdale came high up – listening to red grouse while sitting amongst orchids and hay rattle with snipe drumming and redshanks piping was pure magic.

Winter too had its special moments in a quieter time of year, especially downland under a fresh fall of snow, with passing fox, its coat glowing against the white. I am left with fond memories of some wonderful places.’