This week, author, Polly Devlin describes the intriguing bridges that she has chosen to feature one of her tiles for the garden Wall.
"I saw the first of our wonderful bridges in a full page photograph in an English magazine— it was perched in the middle of a green field -no water to be seen anywhere- and sitting on the bridge was a keen eyed dark haired man. I fell in love with the bridge immediately –never mind the man--and showed the photograph to my husband who equally loved it. The thing is— we lived in Somerset -in Bruton (which was then the back of beyond!) and there wasn’t even a trickle of water on our land except for narrow ditches between the fields— certainly nothing that would occasion having a bridge over it.
That didn’t stop us. We found it was designed and made by the man sitting on it— a now famous bridge builder called Richard La Trobe Bateman. I think it might have been his first bridge (although he was already a well-known master furniture designer and artist) and he has gone on to design bridges all over the world.
By an extraordinary coincidence he lived in the village next to us and we had wonderful times together designing and digging out lakes —( we were lucky in one sense in that our land was heavy clay and we hardly needed to line them) and making a circulatory system between them. On the biggest lake, ( not that any of these lakes were massive —my husband would have called them ponds if I had not pridefully forbidden it ) we made an island and Richard designed two more fabulous bridges to leap across from mainland to island and then across to the field on the other side where we were planting a forest.
By the end we had three bridges and they are the most beautiful things— delicate yet infinitely strong. Children adored crossing them because they were so narrow and arched and made them feel like Tarzan and could ony be crossed in single file. Many a mother felt a frisson as their babies teetered out across a narrow, cantilevered, highly strung (literally) bridge over a deep expanse of glimmering water.
Every day, in every light, our dragon-fly bridges, so ethereal, so strong, gave us immense pleasure."