Twelve Views of Kisdon

Between 1782-1784, at the height of his powers, the Japanese artist Hokusai produced perhaps the most famous, inspiring and influential series of woodblock prints the art world has ever seen, 36 Views of Mount Fuji. The series depicts Mount Fuji from different locations and in various seasons and weather conditions (from Wikipedia) and includes : The Great Wave off Kanagawa, one of the worlds most recognisable works of art. Even if you don’t know its name, never mind heard of the great man, I’ll guarantee you’ll know The Great Wave, you’ve probably done the jigsaw!  

It was 36 Views of Mount Fuji  that inspired  my own (much more modest) project, 12 Views of Kisdon. 

Mount Fuji is tall,  elegant and instantly recognisable. In contrast Kisdon is none of these things.  If you asked a child draw a volcano they’d probably draw something akin to Mount Fuji’s elegant snow covered cone. Ask the same child to draw a plain old hill and they’ll most likely draw Kisdon. “almost impossibly steep slopes on all sides leading up to a rounded top” (A Geologist’s View, Jonathan Leather).  Despite this (unfair) comparison Kisdon has a special quality. Unlike the neighbouring fells, which blend together on their journey along The Dale, Kisdon stands apart, an island hill. The geological forces and processes that made it so are explained in Jonathan’s essay, A Geologist’s View. 

Since we arrived in Muker, Kisdon is a place I’ve come to know well. It has become part of my photographic life, and part of life in general. When we lived above the gallery it was the first thing we saw when we opened our door in the morning and the last thing we saw when we closed it at night.  I’ve walked around and over it, run up it (slowly), studied it, explored it and of course photographed it, we even had a plan to go-kart down it! To all intents and purposes Kisdon has become my landscape photography muse, just as Roseberry Topping might be considered Joe Cornish’s.  Regardless of all of that exploration I became keenly aware that my knowledge of Kisdon remained skin deep, and that other’s had a much deeper understanding and relationship with the hill. This  realisation was the genesis of Twelve Views.

Where-as Hokusai’s 36 Views is a series of prints, 12 Views of Kisdon is a series of essays written by, or about, people who have a deep, intimate relationship with the hill. Where-as Hokusai’s 36 Views depicts the mountain from different locations, seasons and weather conditions, 12 Views depicts Kisdon from the different perspectives, locations and interests of those involved.  

Talking to people who know Kisdon far better than I ever will, and recording their stories, has enriched my understanding of the hill and my enjoyment of it. I now look for fossils under the scars, measure the depth of peat at its summit, look for openings into its limestone cap, marvel at the steepness of Acre Wall, record the names of places not found on maps, seek out the ancient tracks and settlements, and of course continue to take photographs. Even so, the more I know the more I realise how much is still to learn.  There will be many more views of Kisdon to listen to and many more conversations to be had.  

As some wise person once said, ”All good things must come to an end”, but Twelve Views of Kisdon didn’t end. Instead it branched into two intertwined paths, a book, Kisdon Landscapes, a photographic journey to, over and around Kisdon, and Kisdon Place Names, the recording of over 700 contemporary place names covering much of Muker Parish (about which more will soon be forthcoming) …

… and who knows where these paths may lead.  It feels like the journey has only just begun, which is wonderful excuse to quote a poem from JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a poem that often comes to mind as I walk Kisdon’s paths. 

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon. 

Twelve Views of Kisdon is now an exhibition and booklet. The exhibition features  a collection of over 30 photographs,  taken on or around Kisdon, printed both on paper and on aluminium, shown alongside the twelve essays. 

The accompanying 32 page booklet, includes the essays, plus information about the Kisdon’s geology and its five sites of special scientific interest (SSSI). Profits from the sales of the booklet will go towards local projects. If you’d like to buy a copy, please contact The Old School Art Gallery (

Twelve Views of Kisdon is at The Station in Richmond from 16th to 27th Septembe2023, and then at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre at Bainbridge during October, November and December, 2023. 

Twelve Views of Kisdon has been produced with the generous support of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainability Fund. Visit  for more information.

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