Above is a piece entered for a competition at a West Wales gallery in 2010. I found the image the other day whilst desperately looking for a magpie card image I have designed. This is typical for me, I have so many files and occasionally they get slotted into the wrong folder : )
It isn’t a great shot as the light was bouncing of the glass in which it is framed, but lacking an A3 scanner it is the best I could do to record it.
The entry was to be based on a verse from a romantic Welsh poem from the 1900’s. Classical Welsh poetry is remarkably strict in style and format, it takes great skill to to compose a poem within the boundaries of the form. This piece won the poet the Eisteddfod Chair in that year, the only time in his life that he did so I believe. After this piece he went to fight in the WW1 and needless to say much of the romanticism captured here left him.
The poem is about a young man’s recollection of a romantic summer day. He is sat by a fire in a village near the sea on a stormy winter’s night and looking at the embers he drifts into day dreams about a beautiful girl and the idyllic day. It is obvious from the poem that it was a love that faded away and he wakes to a colder, clearer day with the mist retreating and the vague hope of early flowers encouraging him in his belief of a new dawn. I found it very much a poem about young lust mixed with love, and so I chose to represent that in my piece.
The idea for the image was to create a panel from an old gilded book. The margins contain the day before (left) and after (right) and at the bottom sits the poet in reflection. The central image is filled with the passions of that summer’s day. The landscape itself echoes the female form, the dolmen on the hill is passed through to the enlightenment of the new day represented in the right margin by a single stone. The sea spray reaches across from the stormy night of the left margin representing the passionate memory of the encounter. The rose and it’s hips represents the woman and her ruby lips and the sad decay of this young love. On the left there is the pillar of an old, aged winter tree similar to an oak. On the right the white pillar of a silver birch coming into leaf, representing rebirth. The idea was to echo the pillars found in the tarot, through which we must pass to evolve.
The fire of his passion and thoughts rise from the bottom panel and this fire is transformed into a sacrificial image of a man and woman and what might have been and is consumed by the heat of the sun. The strong, viscous thorns and the twisted nature of the rose plant were to convey the poet’s struggle with this poem’s success in his later life.
I was happy with the piece on the whole, though my inability to render fire in daylight (hmm, not the easiest thing to convey : )) left the flames far to clunky and badly angled in the end, so generally that area ended up “heavier” than I wanted. I also couldn’t confine myself to the one verse, I felt compelled to tell the whole story, not exactly the brief : ). Never mind that is the joy of creating and learning and I only had the one shot at it.
I have always felt the poet himself regretted this piece, he later wrote a more sarcastic piece in the same style about a duck! It can be hard to known best for a piece so early in life that perhaps later you feel to be very naive…