only journey worth taking is the journey within."William
Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
"Your vision will become
clear only when you look into your heart ... Who looks outside, dreams.
Who looks inside, awakens." ~ Carl
WOULD MICHELANGELO HAVE BEEN BURNT AT THE STAKE IF THESE
HIDDEN SECRETS BEEN SEEN BY THE VATICAN?
July 19, 2010 - Detailed analysis of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
frescoes reveals a secret that's been hidden for 500 years: an image
of the human brain-stem in ...........see http://www.truthinpictures.com/
Plymouth City Museum
and Art Gallery, in February 1976: -
"RA opens up a private world through his paintings which is almost
embarrassing to intrude on, showing extraordinary vision with a very
RA creates a transparent, dreamlike quality, with his watercolour landscapes
taking you through the outward façade of form into the innermost
workings of nature.
Trees double for waterfalls, branches blend with cloud formations and
plants with slabs of rock to create the essence of Nature's ever - changing
Strong lines and rich, radiant colours take away any feeling of haphazardness
from these superbly composed pictures.
RA produces a Chinese feeling in "Express Wood" "Apple
Tree Wood" and "Engineers Wood" with delicate water washes
and fine lines which bring out the spiritual floating elements of his
"Apple Tree Wood" particularly evokes a lazy, idyllic atmosphere
as the apple tree lingers on the ground with the ladder of childhood
memory leaning at its side. Now in The Dartington Hall Trust collection.
In the "Rocking Horse Wood," magnificent thick green trees
tower from the base showering into rich foliage where houses sit like
buds in the bowers, exuding a warm presence from this private world.
RA Engineers Wood; Watercolour 110 × 80 cm Photo Allan Grainger
Five large acrylics were included in the exhibition, at the Plymouth
City Museum and Art Gallery, which ran until February 26th.
The same exceptional vision is evident in these works, in particular
in "Shrimp Boy" where the domineering picture portrays a young
boy coming out of the haze of spring with his net.
This exhibition was the contributor to my name appearing in 1990 in
the Dictionary of British Art - Vol. VI 20th century Painters and Sculptors.
These "roots" were to continue even after I had become a
student at the RA.Schools. My grandmother considered I was wasting away,
after one term of city food, so she very generously paid my train fare
every Friday, back to Leicestershire.
It was during these steam train journeys that many of my future "wood"
paintings were conceived and later hatched in Rye and Devon. All Artists
have to cultivate quick observation, some things do not hang about for
you to say, 'is it OK if I paint or draw you.' Looking through the train
windows over the four years developed my eye to work like a camera shutter,
capturing one view after another. Plus being a steam train, sometimes
part of the view was obscured by smoke, adding a magical dimension of
poetry. Though the incubation took ten years to resurface, it appeared
as watercolours like "Yellow House Waterfall Wood", now in
the permanent collection of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.
Woods like Rocking Horse Wood, Viaduct Wood all contain views within
other views. In the train a group of factory chimneys would still be
registered on my retina as the express hurtled past a spinney, lake,
and a heron flying over a river. In the most recent 'woods' - "Sun
Rise Wood" an oil on canvas, 244 × 122 cm, and "Wild
Flower Wood" 183 × 122 cm, the same structures appear to
be more evident, and 'abstract.'Yet this is not why I have painted it
in what superficially looks like abstraction. It is to encapsulate the
memory of the fields at Low Woods full to the brim with wild flowers
and health promoting herbs. The edges of the blocks are the boundaries
of the fields, with the early morning sun rising to slowly dry the dew
and release the aromas of these magical plans, now long gone. We have
been taken down a path of fear, by faceless bureaucrats, to make mountains
of wheat that contain less and less 'life.' "That man shall not
live by bread alone," seems very appro here.
RA Wild Flower Wood; Oil on canvas 183 × 122 cm Photo Allan Grainger
The following is a foreword from the catalogue for the exhibition.
One remembers the names: Clearwater Wood, Engineers Wood, Coalmine
Wood - names which haunt the mind like half-remembered memories. These
are visionary poems with a strange and very personal lyricism. For RA
the names are important.
Like a lost key opening a forgotten door a name triggered the sequences
of paintings that compose the main body of this exhibition. Scanning
an Ordinance Survey map of Sussex and Kent he surprised, with that rush
of excitement which precedes every important discovery, the seed of
an idea. The idea was a landscape, and in the seed - like the acorn
in the oak - were the furled waterfalls, the white waters, the long-boled
trees, the buds and suns, compressed and interchangeable, out of which
it would all grow. The conjuring name: Waterfall Wood. WATER - FALL
- WOOD. Inside the word, beheld by the inward eye, the self-same "sounding
cataract", "the tall rocks" and "deep and gloomy
wood" which had haunted Wordsworth as a boy.
The co-incidence is interesting. Born in a part of Leicestershire called
Charnwood Forest, RA was taken to Loughborough at the age of three.
Here he grew up, but every summer returned for several idyllic weeks,
to his grandfathers farm, the cool, deep-walled house, in which he had
been born. Once a huge wilderness Charnwood
preserves much of the natural appearance of a mediaeval hunting park
with its fern and gorse, its ancient woods and outcrops of pre-Cambrian
rocks. RA still remembers many still and secret places - a spring amongst
trees, a white house on a hill - which he acknowledges, like Wordsworth,
as the source of both his imagery and his art. Scenes of childhood,
poised upon the border of town and country and made all the more precious
because they were so different from noisy street life, had had a similar
impact on D.H. Lawrence some forty years before. The influence and memories
of another farm, The Haggs, and those who lived there runs through much
of Lawrence's early work. Not very far from Eastwood where he was born,
there is a deserted quarry which is described in The White Peacock.
The quarry dwelt in Lawrence's memory as a place of mystery, "very
old and deep", filled with "oak trees and guelder roses and
a tangle of briars". Eastwood, a small mining village of shabby
cottages was then a new and developing coalfield on the edge of beautiful
countryside about fifteen miles from the farm where RA was born.
RA. Coalmine Wood; Watercolour 56×76 cm, Margaret Harwood Collection
London. Photo Allan Grainger
So there is a Coalmine Wood as well as a Spring Wood, an Engineers as
well as a Yellow House Waterfall Wood; a feeling of industrial energy
(bridges, pitgear) interwoven with the natural lyricism of an English
landscape (rocks, water and trees). Besides, what childhood is complete
without the fading smoke and smutty smells of a steam train?
Yet RAs paintings are not landscapes in the topographical tradition;
no one could trace, as they have with Constable or Turner, a panorama
of trees and hills and say that he painted them here. Nor, of course,
are they anything so single minded and uncomplicated as a remembrance
of things past. These are visionary poems. What one needs, fully to
appreciate this quality in the paintings, is a quieting down of mind
and spirit to an intense privacy. Coming thus to him, as one comes to
Palmer, one begins to peer right through the forms of his imagery, to
an interior sense of magic, of universal and desperate recognition of
beauty: the transparency within the substance of things.
This recognition, felt by many artists, is an acknowledgment that Art
does not imitate the externals of Nature, but its operation, because
there is at work in both, from within, the same divine creative principle.
"The rules of the Imagination" observed Coleridge "are
themselves the very powers of growth and production". But the outward
forms of Nature, for RA no less than for Coleridge, were never things
in themselves; they were, as for Wordsworth, in his sublimest inspiration,
"Characters in the Great Apocalypse".
Thus beneath the skin of the paintings - the furled and ravelled waters
and the stratified clouds; waters and clouds and roots and branches
rhyming in organic unison like the separate parts of a round - beneath
this skin, is a kind of spiritual essence, a force of being only partly
revealed in the forms themselves. "In looking at objects of Nature"
wrote Coleridge, "I seem to be seeking, as it were asking for,
a symbolic language for something within me that already and forever
exists". Two centuries earlier Thomas Traherne experienced much
the same awareness of the immanence of things: "The corn was orient
and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown.
I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting.... Eternity
was manifest in the Light of Day, and something infinite behind everything
appeared: which talked with my expectation and moved my desire".
In these extraordinary paintings, interleaved with memories of a childhood
long ago, the artist provides another window onto the selfsame imaginative
In 1971, the date of the first painting in this exhibition, RA, his
wife (also an artist), and their two sons, moved from Rye to North Devon
where they now inhabit an old Rectory (like the house in the paintings),
surrounded by a thick fence of tall beech trees. This part of Devon
is solitary, gaunt, haunted even, with something of the same silvery
wintriness which characterizes the Gothic vaulting in the nave of Exeter
Cathedral. One of Blake's marginalia to Reynold's discourses runs: "The
difference between a bad Artist and a Good one is: the Bad Artist seems
to Copy a great Deal. The Good one Really does copy a great Deal".
Imaginative painting, for RA, never involves distorting the facts. The
landscape of his painting is the natural landscape through which he
takes his dog for walks.
To the contemporaneity of a natural landscape with childhood imagery
and a sense of the spiritual within things, should be added a further
element without which the paintings would be little more than a porridge
of coloured mud - I refer, of course, to the precise and formal arrangement
of lines, colours and so forth. Paul Nash, an artist with whom RA has
certain affinities, often talked about "trying to discover the
appropriate form" in what he wanted to say. Form is conditioned
by content in all the arts so that to ignore the latter, and concentrate
on RAs handling of paint, his colour, or the discipline of his design,
would be to treat him as a decorator. That is why I have stressed, perhaps
overstressed, the spiritual and transcendent elements in the work and
said nothing about the radiant delicacy of his colour or the Chinese
feeling for the application of water colour paint. As a young man RA
dreamed of playing the violin and there is something of the musician
in all his watercolour works. But music is as much imitation, as any
of the other arts. Beethoven, for example, did not invent anything;
he perceived something and tried to reproduce it. "Art", said
Paul Klee - in a sentence which RA likes to quote - "Art does not
reproduce the visible, but makes visible". So that all his characteristic
colours, his characteristic forms and design have always been the obedient
servants of that quest.
But are they, one asks looking at the more recent paintings, are they
as characteristic as all that? The cold brightness of the colour is
now golden and thick, the flat and almost Celtic skeining has transmogrified
into thousands of horizontal lines. The metamorphosis of the chrysalis
into a butterfly could not be more complete. Yet, as the analogy suggest,
the essential spirit of RAs vision remains unchanged.
This vision, as close as you can peer into the heart of nature, to genesis
itself, has as its concern the everlasting transmutation of things.
Things which ebb and flow, things which are always changing: growing,
seeding, dying and growing again in an everlasting circle. Correspondences
abound: the skeins of foliage are the strata in a slab of rock; the
tiny sutures in a badger's skull echo the crinkling edges of a cloud;
the white bulb of a waterfall suffers a sea change into a hyacinth's
stock. "Trees show the bodily form of the wind, waves give vital
energy to the moon," says a Zen poem in the Zenrin Kushu.
One of the most recent paintings, unrecognisable in outward form, yet
true in essence, "makes visible" some flowers. Or is this
a sunset? A painting of the life force? A painting of paint? Or all
of these? Another shows a child, one of the boys, transparent as water,
on a shining beach. Or have the waters, hot and magnificent, forged
themselves into a sparkling ghost? And is this sparkling, flesh? air?,
water or light? Nature and glory in Nature must be grasped by reaching
for Nature's qualities and selfhoods. The spirit of these latest paintings
is not inside Nature but, as Gerald Manley Hopkins observed, "under
the world's splendour and wonder." Talking of trees RA has said:
"A tree has its own particular music, its own language, you can
hear it, it leaves it behind. And if you cut the tree down it is still
there." Perhaps the same can now be said of water, sunlight, sunsets
and shrimp boys?