There is a magnificent field beside the road in Lezayre. The gateway and its impressive wrought iron gates is no longer used. It is in the wrong place now, with the road across its entrance. Last summer Sarah parked up by the church and walked back along the fence beside the field with its imposing mature trees, as the cars sped by. Often there is a large heard of cows grazing beyond the gates, keeping the grass on their side well-cropped and the trees trimmed as far as they could reach. Sarah loves drawing cows, but they were not in the field while she was there and she wanted to concentrate on drawing the gateway, with its tall posts and walls of Manx stone. The sun caught the acid green of the grass beyond the gate, ontrasting with taller, wild grasses nearer the road.
Having seen Sarah’s interest in gateways, a friend told her of a pair of gateposts to a farm on the coast road from Peel to Kirk Michael. At first Sarah wasn’t interested as the two posts had lost much of their definition through years of white wash painted over them. She drew them several times, getting attached to their almost sculptural appearance. They were not in good repair, but recently driving past, she was sad to see them gone, demolished, and no sign of them or their gates anymore
Sarah has painted this splendid gateway three times. One side of the original gateway had to be moved and rebuilt to allow larger tractors and vehicles to drive through it more easily, as it was being continuously damaged. The wider entrance was very sensitively rebuilt to the same design, and Sarah has returned to draw it many times, and paint it at different angles. For this view, right down the lane beyond the entrance, Sarah crossed the road and had to hold her sketchbook against her as the traffic came by so closely. The tall, mature trees arching cross the land towards the farm are beautiful. The lovely gates are never closed as it would seem so unwelcoming. But the boundary the gateway creates is enough to feel the privacy beyond it.
This gateway is easily passed, unnoticed, on a bend on the coast road after Bride. But when it catches the sun it is a gem. It’s white walls show a simple, strong symmetry and a classical Manx character. Sadly, it is now painted cream. To do the drawings Sarah had to cross the road and sit by a muddy, farm field, moving to allow a tractor to be driven up into the field. Sarah has painted this gateway twice in different years. For this second painting she made the drawings at a slightly different angle, and was able to see the light of the sun at a bend in the lane.
It is easy to drive past and never notice this beautiful gateway, with its unusual twisted walls. Sarah has driven along that road towards Ballaugh for years and only discovered it very recently. Seeing the simple corner post very near the road, she stopped for a closer look, and drew a quick sketch on the back of a shopping list. Sarah usually has a sketch book and pencils in the car, but not this time. She returned several times for more detailed drawings. Unfortunately, the gateway is in a bad state of repair, with only one post remaining intact of the original four. In painting it, Sarah has improvised and painted all four posts as they would have been. Ivy is taking over along one side. The way the low walls have a twisted turn half way along is unusual, probably to give strength to the length of the wall when first built. It would be expensive to repair the gateway, with any money more useful for the farm itself. But buildings and places like this gateway would really benefit from attention and surely someone could offer to restore it before it is too late for yet another part of traditional Manx vernacular. As with many of the gateways, beyond the entrance is a long lane with tall trees on either side going to the farm at the end.