A work taking its root from the bark. This painting is a meditation on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts and the Essex whaler story.
Moel Famau is the legendary hill of childhood, its ascent a kind of allegorical rite of passage for generations of Liverpudlians. In this new painting, I have created a partially imagined view of the Mother Mountain.
This is a winter painting whose origins however were an autumnal walk along Withins Way, the path that leads from Hale Village to the ancient fording place on the Mersey, at the river’s southern narrows where the county of Lancashire tentatively meets Cheshire at Runcorn.
No other British bird has such a distinctive call, one which is often described as a liquid, bubbling, trill and most evocatively – plaintive, a word that is so seldom used in modern speech to be almost synonymous with this species. Perhaps the sound of the curlew cannot be dissociated from the land, for very often the birds can be fugitive and the tell-tale sign is only the slowly decaying and mournful cadence of its call. In this painting therefore I have sought to unify its call with a landscape in which it resides.
To help transpose the sound into a tangible metaphor I have used the sonograph of its call and locked it within the roost of the duck decoy as if a wasp preserved in amber. The peaks and troughs of its mournful call can then be forever preserved in the broken backbone of trees at Hale and the light emanating from the watery pools is something to do with the spirit of the birds and that which gave voice to it.
Call of the Curlew
oil on canvas 765x510mm (2016)
There is a setting by Warlock of a poem by Yeats that deals far more eloquently with this subject; better still to search for the sound on the Mersey – or just listen:
I have been revisiting this fascinating landscape feature throughout the year and have come to know something of its moods as well as its many guises. It is a cormorant roost, a scheduled ancient monument, a hidden place and one of Britain’s last remaining duck decoys. Ironically the duck decoy at Hale is at once a lure to death and more latterly a place of life and gathering.
Its appearance reflects a sombre history and many of the trees stand blasted, pointing accusing fingers at the sky and providing convenient roosts for all manner of interesting birds. As access is carefully restricted there is a wonderful sense of secrecy and sacredness as you glimpse across the flood plain to imagine what lurks within.
40x40cm, Oil on Canvas.Buy now on Saatchi Art