Inspiration on the doorstep - October 10
Steve on Richmond Lock
I'm recording at home right now, and when I can make a break for it, I go out walking. There are many wonderful spots far and wide. I draw inspiration from virtually everywhere I go, but I must say that my home area has helped to feed creativity for all the years I've lived here as much as other places I visit.
It might be on the outskirts of London, but there are several green areas such as Richmond Park, Kew Gardens, Marble Hill and Syon Park, which are perfect for walking and cycling. These places feed the creative spirit. I had a dream the other night that a stag came up to me and bent over, protecting me with his antlers. I remember facing a stag once in Richmond Park that stood and looked at me. I fancied that he was the monarch of the wood - a strong force of nature. The park is a semi wild place, teaming with deer, birds and other wildlife and full of some extraordinary old gnarled trees.
Kew Gardens is totally different - exquisitely cultivated with fantastic exotic trees and plants from all over the world. The little Greek temple, Japanese gateway, stone lions and Chinese pagoda all remind me of the world of Rupert Bear, which captivated me as a small child. A real jewel there is the Marianne North Gallery, replete with hundreds of pictures that a Victorian woman painted on her travels around the world. Every inch of wall space is covered by a painting. It's like the planet in miniature. The beauty of Kew has inspired some of my acoustic guitar music. Similarly, I've derived ideas from an extraordinary Italian fountain in the gardens of York House in Twickenham. The statues of water nymphs were brought over from Italy many years ago. They inspired The Dancing Ground in the early part of Metamorpheus.
The central feature of the whole area is its main artery - the River Thames, winding through like a large silver serpent. As with the parks, walking along the riverbank you're in a waterworld that takes you away from the bustle of outer London. It inspired part of my song Strutton Ground. As far back as my teens when I just visited the area I used to sit and stare at the mock Gothic Richmond Bridge, which I saw as the perfect contemplative spot. It's like a place that time forgot. Up the hill from the bridge is a fantastic view of the river that both Constable and Turner painted. To this day it looks like an idyllic green world surrounding the river, extending into a distant haze with every sunrise.
Several of the ideas I picked up on my local meanderings have been hastily scribbled down in cafes. One of my favourite haunts is the Greenhouse in Kew, where all the surrounding plants seem to chatter and whisper back, somehow helping me to breathe life into unborn songs...
Steve at the Kew Greenhouse
Monarch of the Park
View of the Thames from Richmond Hill