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Proud Poetry – a Swansea painting

Where we live is very important to us. Where we grow up shapes us for the rest of our lives, for good or bad. When I have an anxiety dream its often about moving house. I put this down to the fact that during my childhood we moved many times; Hereford, Newcastle, Whitley Bay and Gloucester. I had been to 9 difference schools by the time I was 11. I carried on moving for my education, first to Cardiff, then to Peckham and Greenwich in London and finally Swansea.

The house where I spent my teenage years in Gloucester no longer exists. It was knocked down several years ago. It was built in 1976 and was gone 30 years later. I find that odd. I have been past the spot where it used to stand and I find its absence unsettling. I think that’s why I love the solid Edwardian terraces of Brynmill, these houses have been here for over a century. The grand mock Tudor houses of the Uplands, built in the inter-war years of the 20th century will last and will, hopefully, last another century.

David Fry bought a painting of mine, “Proud House”,  a while back. Imagine my surprise and delight when he contact me to tell me that it had brought back many childhood memories for him and it inspired him to write a poignant poem about it.  I thought I’d share it with you.

WHAT I SEE – A Proud House

Join palette with oils tincture and powder to display

The artist draws down with sight and prodigious emotion

As alchemist hails a canvas sharp lined spare skilled too

An affectionate depiction smoothed fine in occult lotion.

 

What do I see in authentic rendition so germane

A rare gift in practiced thought and summit won

Is this an ethos for other endeavours by artists told?

No…mesmerised true in a story book I am held by this one.

 

Maybe I glimpsed what was intuition a fable in the making

To bind a time and way to a journeyman’s remembered sight

But mostly I am filled with a bitter sweet regret

From childhood certainty in family life to lonely night.

 

A house transcends all purpose and design

And paint surpasses in hindsight the record of focussed light

Imbued with lives lived rich and sheltered in wallpaper defined

Something raised above all description a distillation bright.

 

School friends gone their paths fade in narrow winded days

Histories will reveal life travels worn their purpose long set

Hope boxed my laughter hard with glass at times half full

But the proud house survives still and is well met.

Proud House.jpg
Proud House

I am taking a break from my Gower walk until mid-June to work as an exam invigilator for the university.

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We need more painted houses

Elm Street
Elm Street, Cardiff

I hate pebble dash. It is boring and beige. Wales has far too many pebble-dashed houses.  If are not familiar with the phenomenon its a “coarse plaster surface used on outside walls that consists of lime and sometimes cement mixed with sand, small gravel, and often pebbles”. Its a way of tarting up the outside of a house. I guess its cheaper than having the bricks re-pointed because it seems to stay that horrible porridge colour for ever. Welsh terraces in the towns and valleys are full of these dull fronted houses. I much prefer red brick. Or painted. Many of my houses for the “Hollowed Community” exhibition were red brick or painted interesting colours.

In Ireland it seems that all the Victorian terrace houses and cottages are painted in bright colours. (See photos of Cobh Harbour above )

Having a brightly painted house is a gift to the community. It does not matter if your house is a grand detached house with a sea view or a humble terrace, it is cheering to behold. When a whole street does it, it becomes a cause for celebration and art!

The Yellow House
The Yellow House (Swansea)

 

The Purple House
The Purple House (Cardiff)

 

 

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Going up in the world (the rise of Metroland)

Light Shadow
Light Shadow
If you walk north of Brynmill, you start to go up in the world. The surburbs of Ffynone, Uplands and Sketty are perched on one of Swansea many hills. The houses that were built here after the First World War are big and spacious. Swansea, like the rest of the UK, experienced a house-building boom in the late 1920s and the 1930s. This put home ownership within the reach of many for the first time. Now families with modest means could see their aspirations realised in bricks. 
Some edgy flat roofed Art Deco houses were built. Much more popular, were detached and semi-detached mock Tudor styles with  front and rear gardens. Their interiors had to be fashionable. Art Deco fireplaces were everywhere. Electricity was also installed. That way, the family’s maid could use new domestic inventions like the wireless and vacuum cleaner. They were light, clean family homes that were both practical and elegant. This was suburban splendour.
This was the chic of “Metroland”. This so-called”Metroland” or “Metro-land” was the name given to the suburbs of north-west of London that was served by the Metropolitan Railway (The Met). The term “Metro-land” was coined by the Met’s marketing department in 1915 when the Guide to the Extension Line became the Metro-land guide. It promoted a dream of a modern home in beautiful countryside with a fast railway service to central London. The Metroland style was self-consciously rustic. It was a peaceful Eden that harked back to a Shakespearean “golden age” of England. It was a style that was adopted by builders wanting to appeal to the professional classes of Wales too. 
Welcoming Gate
The Welcoming Gate

Metroland was part of popular culture of the 1920 and 1930s. There were several songs about Metroland. Evelyn Waugh had a character Lady Metroland who appeared in several of his books (“Decline and Fall”, “Vile Bodies” and “A Handful of Dust”).  Poet John Betjeman, wrote poems about Metroland. He even made a celebrated documentary for BBC Television,  called Metro-land, in 1973.

 

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Freedom of the Road

“Freedom of the Road” which takes it’s ironic title from the taxi in the painting parked in the wrong side of the road and pointing the wrong direction as if it had freedom of the road. This painting is  80 x 60cm

 

Contemporary Oil painting of Night time Urban scene
Freedom of the Road (SOLD)

This painting is a bigger version of a recently sold oil painting “Taxi from Uplands” but from a more distant view point, to include more of the atmospheric, rain soaked road. An evocative night time oil painting of Uplands, an inner city area in Swansea with a taxi parked, facing the wrong way, in the middle of the road. It’s main dipped head light blares white down the shiny jet black road and intermingles with back-light reds and street-light amber and LED silvery white. They all seem to wash and stream down the wet city road with the rain.

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The Driving Rain

“The Driving Rain” oil, 100 x 80cm, which has now sold to an artlover in Australia, was also part of my Noah’s Yard exhibition in December 2015.

An expressive oil painting of a fast car speeding through the torrential rain and sliding waves of water down the road of Uplands, Swansea. I love all the colours in this image, reflected in the shiny roads and gushing water, falling specks of rain and blaring car lights. Night is so colourful although one would not really expect it to be. This is what I attempt to catch in this night time paintings.

Contemporary Night time scene of rainy road
The Driving Rain (SOLD)
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Backstage at Noah’s Yard

Let’s catch up…in the next days and weeks I will be posting on some of what I have been doing in the last few months of my blogsite inactivity…

The following painting, now sold, was painted for Noah’s yard solo exhibition in December 2015. Back Stage  At Noah’s Yard.

“This expressionist oil painting has taken some inspiration from Degas and his paintings from the perspective of being back stage, waiting in the wings and observing the performers, usually dancers in his case, onstage.
The question here is who is onstage? The musicians in the far distance? The people being served drinks who out to play for the evening or the lovely barmaid serving the drinks? And who is backstage for that matter? The barmaid again or the creator of this image or you, looking at this created image?Perhaps we are all backstage and onstage as someone was no doubt “backstage” watching me catch all this too?

Back Stage at Noah's
Back Stage at Noah’s
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In a meditative manner, to the music of Eric Satie’s gorgeous “Trois Gymnopedies”, I attempt to describe how working close to nature but in the city is a major influence on my painting, blending with my technique to create my artwork. In fact, place and painting are inseparable. I am greatly influenced by the light and beauty in Wales and around the Swansea area in particular. Most of my paintings inspired by the bountiful beauty that surrounds me, the sounds as well as the images. You might even notice the odd inspiration that made it to be a painting too (as well as the odd painting of my inspirational Swansea). Welcome to my Attic Art Studio and the place that inspires much of my artwork.
https://vimeo.com/104913701