Sunday, 30 November 2014

An ode to Anselm

Dear Monty,

Anselm Kiefer wanted to be Jesus - this was his ambition as a Catholic boy growing up in the bombed out streets of post war Germany. Later he realised that he couldn't be Jesus - none of us can.
He struggled with his and our inconsistencies - he saw the two sides of ourselves.

The burning burns into my head 
A sickening blackness
Sometimes a bright furious flame
Flames of passion
Or a dull smouldering
Ash that fills nostrils and mouth
And dulling thoughts to a numb sleep.

Creativity bursts out
God speaks
A voice from inside 
One that I hardly recognise

The start was explosive
The void occupied with matter
That cooled and cools still
'The wise understand the destruction'
'The power of the holy people will be broken'

The cooling of the core
The turning of years
The degradation of life

Wars are inevitable
We struggle to maintain boundaries
Like decaying seedheads overwhelmed by frost, rain and wind
A whirlwind will take us up
The earth and all that there is therein
And all the people said - Amen.

Christ was meant to be the first fruits from among the dead - an offering of light from darkness.

It was never meant to have its complete fulfilment now - this was a future promise, a hope fixed in Christ in love, forgiveness and encouragement. Outside of that we are just left with our inconsistency.

We are left with hope - we can still sense it in the light that illuminates.

I live in this 'lovely ugly town' - the reality is intrusive noise from trial bikes on the tip - and the beauty in the colours of winter - and hope in the maturing.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Majesty and the pit prop man

Dear Monty,

I was delighted that James Golden of FEDERALTWIST.COM posted some episodes of  - 'Around the World in 80 Gardens'. It was a revelation to see you in your element enthusing about what gardens do and what they are for, without the restrictions placed on you as a presenter of GW.

James' garden is a gem - or at least I believe it is from the images I see posted on his blog. This of course does not count as a objective view because I have never seen it in the flesh, much like we have never seen Longmeadow in the flesh. It must have been a great privilege to visit all of those gardens - one which stays with you - or does it ? Do elements stay with you and get translated into your own garden - or do the memories just fade ?

I'm not sure why, but my life is sometimes overwhelmed by the sense of the brevity of it - this is the curse of being human in middle age - we operate detached from the sense of the now - we look back and we look forward.

This morning the now filled my mind with majesty.

This tiny garden of mine is a rebellion against the abused post- industrial landscape within which it is set.
I am a rebel - a hapless one at that.

The tip tips closer to us by degrees - as its shale, clay and fine coal is washed away by rain - blocking drains and covering the road with silt, the consequence of unrestricted off-roading.

The County Council is without resources to stop the degradation - this is the truth of living in a cash-strapped South Wales valley. This is one aspect of living here, but there is another - thankfully - a spiritual one alive among the coalfields. This place still holds the spark of majesty.

Majesty is found in the golden leaves still falling at the end of November. Also in the flowers of a fading summer.
Contrasts in blues, reds and lime greens.
Majesty is found beyond our borders - in the high hills.

I love the fact that even in the darkest of places - light can bring an uplift of the spirit.

Abstract composition?

Autumnal pond margin

I agonise over how I can translate these gut responses to something beyond ourselves and convey them as real, as real as the image in front of our eyes. Something separate - holy occurs.


The pit prop man

The pit prop man was paid 'top money' for cutting wooden props 8' high and heavy
Man handling them into place with no machinery
To hold up 'roads' underground

85 years old and as strong as an ox - even now
Chiseled face as if from anthracite

But all he lives for is the past
Recounting stories of survival

Now all traces of his mines have gone
Save sink holes and erosion

Glories of the past
Perhaps that's all we end up with

Thank God for a majesty which is now and ever shall be
Beyond our time and memory
Just there
Almost visible.

Anthracite from 'The Diamond'


Sunday, 16 November 2014

The one-eyed cat and red hen.

Dear Monty,

Where is home ?

We all need to belong -to be anchored in some way.

The colours in the low sun intensify and anchor me in this coal-mined garden.
The hens shine red against the black shed guarded by the one-eyed cat.

The pines in the park are blue needled against the sky
Arches of gold behind.

The arc of the Darren mountain is in shadow
Silver white birch stems shine in the gully
This scruffy woodland a barrier between the cut of road below.

The blue kitchen frames the garden
One vista
But there are others opening up
New sight lines
New ideas to be exploited.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Neglect - the truth is I've been fixing the kitchen

Dear Monty,

Sad to see the farewell from Longmeadow, its nice to get outside in someones garden - even if virtually but I suspect that you don't want to show us bare trees and bones.

I've been enslaved indoors fixing the kitchen - a task that I have been putting off for some time mainly due to my poor carpentry skills.

The garden has been neglected, as well my paintings.

So here are a few photographs of a neglected garden - the truth is it is a mess - but even mess can be beautiful.

I'm sorry to show these pictures - must be getting boring now.