Filming Norham

I spent yesterday on the banks of the river Tweed making studies of Norham Castle for a German tv film about JMW Turner. In the morning we did some location shots and established a ‘storyline’ and in the afternoon I was to make a painting from as near to Turner’s viewpoint as we could find. Turner painted Norham from the English side of the river but the bank has since eroded and tree growth almost entirely obscures the castle so we found a spot on the Scottish side that we felt would work…….it proved to be more difficult than I’d anticipated.
The afternoon started well enough, as bright sunshine lit the castle and the Tweed danced and sparkled on its course to Berwick and the sea, but with high winds it wasn’t long before clouds were scurrying across the sky giving the light a kind of strobe effect and the trees the appearance of demented nightclub dancers thrashing around in a drunken stupor. Working with a film crew was challenging too: despite doing their utmost to make me comfortable, it’s not easy working with a film camera inches from your face whilst pretending it’s not there and at the same time giving your thoughts on Turner, painting, Scottish weather and a amplitude of other subjects.
Eventually I realise that I haven’t seen the crew for a while and they have in fact stopped filming, and started munching snacks – the light has become so bad that they’ve given up and as rain has begun to fall, I take this as a cue to do the same. In good Turner tradition I had to ‘work up’ the painting in the studio on my return; this and some other sketches I made, will now function as studies for the making of an oil painting which will be filmed in my studio on Wednesday.
Anyway, here it is along with producer Ina Kessebohm and her film crew: