Harry’s pioneering work lives on back in the place he loved

Elephantstones Gallery, Hayfield

Steve Brown looks at how a Derbyshire gallery is promoting the work of a local artist who was a pioneering abstract painter until his death in 1985.

THE High Peak moors are punctuated by many weird and wonderful gritstone tors. Besides the names bestowed on them by the Ordnance Survey, local people have their own descriptions. One such group of rocks are the Elephantstones, outliers of the more famous Woolpacks which dot the southern edge of Kinder Scout above Edale. Simon and Suzanne Bridges chose this name for the gallery which they opened in the main street of Hayfield to reflect their connection with the Derbyshire landscape and the inspiration it gave to them and to others in their art.
However Simon, Suzanne and their daughter Eve were not the first residents of Hayfield to fall in love with the hill country surrounding the village. In 1947, an artist born in Rusholme in Manchester called Harry Ousey, and his wife Susie, took up residence in a tiny cottage at Hill House Farm, to the east of the village below Kinder Scout’s western edges.
Harry and Susie had moved up from London, where he had eventually become an artist after starting as a trainee in an architectural practice. Until he left for the warmer climes of Cornwall in 1950, Harry spent much of his time wandering in all weathers among the hills and dales surrounding Hayfield, a landscape which he would come to love and which, in time, came to inspire him throughout his artistic career and which helped to heal his mental wounds from being bombed out of London in World War Two…