Saturday, 2 March 2013

New work from Giles Watson

A Study, In March
It is colder than it looks; it’s still that time
when a chance shaft of sunlight feels
like a caress. Lambs etch the air with their
plaintiveness, tottering, suckling, folding
their soft limbs back on themselves
to rest on dew-drenched grass. Shadows
arch, tight-strung as bows. Lichens
crawl up trees, infinitesimally. Branches
subdivide a firmament of almost-lapis.
But it is the foreground that irks him
in his fingerless gloves, mixing the perfect
shade for Lady’s Smock, priming the Primrose
on its stalk like the Word in its spinning-
place. It is becoming paint and dwelling
among us. Then he takes his finest brush,
charges it with a colour close to saffron,
pulls out a hand-lens, and pricks in stamens –
thinks his way down into the pollen grains.
Hours later, he looks up, and the sheep
have wandered. The sky has turned
ominous. The first colours of his palette
are congealed at the edges. It is painting
as an act of devotion, the creator in praise
of the One who numbers every bristle
of the brush. Show it to people these days
in reproduction. They say, “Oh! I thought
for a moment it was a photograph.”
Poem by Giles Watson, 2013. A response to John William Inchbold’s utterly sensational painting, A Study, in March (c. 1855), in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The Ashmolean’s own website asserts that the painting “epitomises the Pre-Raphaelite approach to landscape painting, which sacrificed perspective to careful finish”; it forgets to mention that it also epitomises a mid-Victorian predilection for the close-observation of nature. It is often the foregrounds which turn Pre-Raphaelite paintings from chocolate-box compositions into masterpieces.

No comments:

Post a Comment