The Cabin at Bucks Mills in North Devon, a National Trust property, is rarely open to the public. It is a memorial to two local artists, Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards, who followed the traditions of British romantic landscape painting. Their studio remains exactly as it was left decades ago, frozen in time. I am one of seven local authors who have been invited to use it over the coming holiday weekend and take inspiration from it.
The stone-built cabin is tucked away in a secluded spot, on the cliff-side above the East Lime-kiln, in the hamlet of Bucks Mills. It’s surrounded by a rugged, natural landscape: the westward-facing sea, a shingle beach and towering Devon cliffs. It is an ideal spot, as Mary Stella Edwards said, for ‘the spring light on the high land.’
By contrast, the inside of the cabin is quite spartan and purely functional (and no electricity), apart from a dresser of pretty patterned cups and plates which add a splash of colour. It was the two women’s studio between 1935-1971. After Judith Ackland’s death in 1971 the cabin was abandoned. It looks, however, as if they have just stepped out and intended to come back.
Hopefully, we authors will find our own muse in the location and setting. I wonder whether we’ll feel the spirit of Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards encouraging us?
Authors Ruth Downie, Janet Few, Susan Hughes, Wendy Percival, PJ Reed, Liz Shakespeare and Pamela Vass will be at the cabin over the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend, 29 April-1 May 2017, 10am – 4pm.
The Ackland-Edwards Collection of watercolours, drawings and dioramas of local topographical or historical interest, is on permanent display at The Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford, North Devon.