AN AERIAL photographer and landscape painter have come together to show the beauty of southern Oxfordshire from above.

Drone pilot and photographer Hedley Thorne and artist Anna Dillon are showing their images of the county's rolling downland in an exhibition at the Sewell Centre Gallery in Radley College near Abingdon.

The show, Wessex Airscapes, runs until September 24.
The idea for the exhibition arose from their mutual interest in exploring local landscapes.

Mr Thorne's love of the landscape goes hand in hand with his passion for flying. He manages the daily IT operation for Heathrow Airport and outside work he uses drones to capture the scenic splendours of southern Oxfordshire and specifically the North Wessex Downs.

The photographer was originally inspired by the landscapes he saw on cycle rides between Didcot and Henley and on walks along The Ridgeway. Through his love of the Wessex landscape, he found landscape painter Anna Dillon who too has a love of aerial landscapes inspired by helicopter rides over the Uffington White Horse.

Mr Thorne started by attempting to recreate Ms Dillon's scenes such as Hagbourne Hill and Brightwell Barrow using his phone, but eventually he invested in a small drone to take the same scenes from above. The new gadget expanded his creative possibilities. 
He said he was 'thrilled' when Ms Dillon painted one of his photos of Wittenham Clumps. He then invested in better technology and to start the NorthWessex Instagram account to showcase his pictures. 

Oxford Mail: Brightwell Barrow by Hedley Thorne

Now, the pair are able to exhibit their artwork together with drone photography from Mr Thorne and paintings of his landscapes by Ms Dillon. 

Ms Dillon said: "His photos of the Berkshire Downs show a birds-eye perspective on countryside that is familiar to me from walking the land. In certain lights and seasons, his drone work can identify earthworks, ditches, field systems and ‘hidden jewels’ in the chalk hills and give us all a fresh appreciation for our brilliant country."

Mr Thorne said: "To me the Wessex landscape is everything. From the wide, open wilderness of Wiltshire, across to the South Downs and the North Wessex Downs, near to where we are right now, I feel that we are all responsible for embracing its past, enjoying its presence and preserving its future. 

Oxford Mail: Lollingdon, painting by Anna Dillon

"Well loved local areas such as Wittenham Clumps, Uffington White Horse Hill, The Devil's Punchbowl and our own local area of Lowbury Hill, all conveniently strung along The Ridgeway, will never lose their haunting geometry. But I fear we are now at a time where we need to be aware of what is happening around us to protect and preserve this beauty."

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