Watership Down

Retracing the rabbits’ steps: fiction or reality?

It started as a little adventure, realizing that the map in the book depicted real places…

So as an adventure I started to walk in the rabbits’ footsteps… until I could share the entire Watership Down scenario with them.

The more I read the book the more I appreciated it. The story was not just intriguing. I loved the values Richard Adams passed on through his characters: loyalty, friendship, comradeship, the ideal of freedom and justice, the fight against what’s evil, the reward after the struggle, the sacrifice and the heroism…

Walking the downs has made me appreciate the splendour of the southern England landscape, the fauna and flora. I rediscovered my childhood and its wonders through the descriptions in the book. I looked at them again: the dew on the grass, the silent, powerful sunrise on Watership Down; the sky reddening to the west on a peaceful summer evening; the wild flowers and the little creatures that populate the meadows and the woods; the birds and the Thousand. And of course the rabbits themselves; whom I spied on and took so many photos of.

I realized that all this constituted the inspiration for my paintings: my tribute to Richard Adams and his “Watership Down”; and, at the same time, my tribute to the beautiful landscape of the Berkshire Downs.

In my paintings fiction has met reality. I hope you will enjoy them and that they will help you in your own journey through the story and the Watership Down world.

The book I have come to love was first published forty years ago. It has never been out of print and has already run through many editions worldwide, becoming a true classic.

- Aldo Galli -

03/05/09: Richard Adams and his wife Elizabeth on Watership Down, in front of the beech hanger, the rabbits’ wood of the story.

Believe it or not, there is a warren on the bank on the left of the very beech tree of the story (now reduced to a stump: it was damaged in a storm, though a nearby beech has grown as well as the previous tree). And there is a warren on the evening side of the beech hanger, along the hedges that border the field.

Here is a photo of some rabbits at evening silflay (with the beech hanger in the background) and a photo of the rabbit that has inspired my version of Bigwig. A photo of the sunset in this peaceful evening on the down has also inspired my painting “The Whole World”.