Overgrown & Bletsian Revisited.
I visited some people recently who are the owners of one of my paintings from the 'Overgrown' series made in 2014. It was nice to see it hanging proudly in their front room. It was also nice to hear how much they enjoy the painting from day to day. The last time I saw it on show (so to speak), was in the exhibition of the same title, the same year, at Hawthorn Town Hall Art Gallery in Melbourne.
I had been working on painting method using sealed layers of pigments for a long time. This painting was the first one I made for this particular group of artworks. I tend to work making several artworks at one time: that is, I work several paintings themed around a singular idea. The painting was made from the linen outwards in an attempt to give the image a depth that reflects its subject matter. There was an introduction to the exhibition that is included below. The introduction is taken from part of my book Bletsian which is being re written currently as a novel. I hope to have it finished soon.
While the introduction is set in England, there is a connection to Australia. Much of Australia's architectural heritage stems mainly from Europe. Indeed, it was the many migrants from all over Europe, who brought their skills to shape the look of Australia's towns and cities. The skills they brought were specialised and carried out with care in the belief that what they were building was beautiful. It was.
To cut a long story short, many of these buildings are being destroyed; destroyed by greedy property developers who care not one iota about Australia's unique architectural heritage. Day after day, wonderful architectural masterpieces are knocked over (I suspect with no photographic record made), and cheap concrete 'Shit Boxes' - that's my name for theses monstrosities, put up in their place.
I feel nothing but a sense of profound loss and anger every time I see one of these ignorant developers wandering proudly over an empty block where a magnificent building once stood. These new developers are nothing but greedy money grabbing criminals with cash register eyes and ever expanding wallets. They are destroying Melbourne, and it would seem, there is not one council or state member willing to at least slow this appalling destruction down.
The paintings were deliberately made to look (hopefully!), beautiful as a perverse contradiction. Hopefully, each resulting artwork expressed a different part of this particular idea. In this group of artworks, the subject was a comment on the destruction of Melbourne's architectural heritage. I find this an easier way of separating (and understanding), the many ideas and themes that crowd my brain. My brain that somehow manages to prod me (sometimes unwittingly), to artistic life.
The group of drawings called 'Remembering Augustus Pugin' was made around this time. These can be found on the 'Drawings' page.
On seeing the painting, I realised I had not photographed it (for my records). Here it is - revisited. I have also placed it on the 'Paintings' page in the portfolio section. I hope you like it. I do, unashamedly.
December 2070 - A Prophecy.
Among the rambling bushes, it lies lost: a piece of stone carved lovingly by a stone
mason whose skills with mallet and chisel was both delicate and masterful in the way he guided the forged, tempered tools to carve beautiful lines upon and within the body of the stone. From handmade templates, the tracery of the stone was brought into being with an accuracy and artfulness, so much defter than the cheaper cast of a contemporary concrete mould. The stem of the runner grows thicker and longer; sprouting its spiky leaves and purple lustrous fruit around the body of the stone. There is a green gluey sap that fastens the expanding plant onto its ageing surface. It appears to be almost fully absorbed but not quite as I pull the plant away to reveal its late Romanesque lines. Foliage can just be seen. Faces emerge from darker spaces between the stems and leaves. Their almond eyes look up at me constant and unblinking. It is a boss, a piece of stone that once sat at the heart of a quadripartite vault. I stand up, look around and wonder at how this beautiful object could have ended up here in this desolate place. I can’t help thinking about this stone and how it was formed. Four hundred million years it took to form this sedimentary rock from the falling sand at the bottom of the ocean: within which, it was pressed further and further down into the underlying bedrock until the millions of sandy particles bonded and banded together two hundred feet below in the undersea darkness. The quarry from which the stone was taken, stands today in broad daylight, bathed in December's crisp morning sunshine. The quarry is not too far away from here: only an hour by passenger drone.
I can see the master mason in my mind’s eye, over nine hundred years ago, standing at the base of the quarry. He makes his choice of stone before it is drilled carefully and then wedged off the sheer mass of the cliff face. It’s a long day’s work for the team of men and as the sun sets, I see them settling down for the night in huts. The next morning as the sun rises, the men load the stone with pulleys and brute strength on to a large four wheeled cart. A little later, after the master mason has paid the quarry master, I see two great horses pulling the laden cart down a muddy path that leads to a stone mason's lodge at the centre of a small hamlet, thirty miles away. The stone mason’s lodge is situated at the heart of a tiny hamlet next to a church whose walls, at the mason’s skilful hands, rise steadily from day to day. I know this place; although I cannot quite give a name to it yet. I will; I have been here before. It is the east of England: Cambridgeshire? Norfolk? And then a voice; it is young, male and as yet, unbroken. The voice could only have come from this part of England. It pleads for mercy. A few moments later it mourns the loss of those closest to it and asks a question: Oh dearest Edmund, my brother, where are you? I miss you so, Ma and Pa, why did you have to go to Heaven? Why did they kill you? The voice fades. It is Cambridgeshire, yes, I see it, clearly, Ely: Ely Cathedral or at least, the laying of its foundations. Or is it later? Or that time before? That rising church: later, after the big collapse, the ascent of Ely’s magnificent timber octagon. Yes, that’s it! I can see it! Who was it did that? Bishop Hotham; no. Who? Who was it? Yes, I remember now: Alan of Walsingham, that genius monk. Yes I see it now: in all its eight sided glory. Gone now. Destroyed by architectural idiots. Gone forever. At the lodge inside the sculptor's studio, the masons load the stone carefully onto a carver’s banker, waiting to be transformed into the beautiful object lying beneath the veins of this poisonous plant. Nearby stands what was once Ely Cathedral: renovated recently: transformed into pink and orange apartments.
Copyright 2014. David Glyn Davies.
Extract taken from 'Bletsian' - Short Stories and Poetry By David Glyn Davies.
ISBN: 9780 64694560 6