Ty Isaf is not merely a postal address and a property of moderate grandeur and repute; it is also a work in progress, a collaboration between Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Peter Wakelin, their team of highly skilled workmen, and the various wild and domesticated beings they share the property with, including a small colony of pipistrelle bats in the attic and a noisy rookery in the treetops adjacent to the house. Continue reading “Visiting Ty Isaf”
Dear patience, crown of flowers whose root
is the same suffering we give the name
of love— We learn that the afternoon’s
passing storms, broody with thunder and
petulant with hail, have ripped the night
heron’s nest from the trees, and flung
its young upon the cobblestones. None
have survived. Is it to make amends
that the first irises open in the dark,
confessing the wounds on their tongues?
Red and yellow, stained crests of violet—
here is how the heart’s delivered from
one injury to another. Our limbs thrash
in sleep, swimming toward the promise
of an island of repose. Come, wind
with your interchangeable songs of virtue
and endurance— Come any way through
the windows; cool these overheated rooms.
Sometimes for various reasons the best photo may be the one that conveys the least information. I believe this is the only digital artifact from a May 12 get-together of six bloggers at a London pub which can be shared without upsetting any of the parties involved. Continue reading “Incognito”
The clouds are sheets of cotton pulled thin between our fingers.
Translation: At the lake, villagers are harvesting
shoals of tiny fish, their bodies an inch long, the dark
pupils of their eyes no bigger than pinpricks.
The water ripples like oil.
You lean forward and say, Don’t move. There is an animal in the tree above you.
Translation: The nuns in the school I attended
made us walk, single file, up and down the narrow
wooden staircases: Only on the balls
of your feet, girls, they commanded.
Lightness is all.
Where can I go to feel sand under my feet, watch the rush of water tint them sable?
Translation: The Japanese irises wear thin
wrappers of color; they’ve had too much heat
and now they’re shriveling in the evening air.
A cricket twangs its strings in the shadows,
oblivious to the deep vermilion pouring over
the harbor. Not me— I want to drink it up.
Join me for a walk with the Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins and his dog Jack. Clive and his partner Peter Wakelin live a few miles from Aberystwyth in a beautiful old place called Ty Isaf, which I’d been reading about on his Artlog for a couple years now, and was lucky enough to visit — and even stay three nights in — earlier this month.
I thought it would be fun to record a tour of Clive’s neighborhood for the podcast, allowing us to hear how a major artist relates to, and finds inspiration in, the land and people around him. For those unfamiliar with his work, it’s worth mentioning that specific places have always featured prominently in his paintings. Even elements which I had assumed to be fanciful, such as castles beside the sea, turn out to have been common features of the local and regional landscape. (For more on the sense of place in Clive’s work, see the essay by Andrew Green, “The Place of Place,” in the new monograph simply entitled Clive Hicks-Jenkins, from the British art publisher Lund Humphries in cooperation with Grey Mare Press.)
Be sure to check back next weekend for the conclusion of our walking conversation, in which I prompt Clive to talk about his journey from the theater world to art, what he looks for in painting, and more.
Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence).
My favorite place in London was Kew Gardens. I visited twice and shot some 300 photos, mostly inside the three enormous glass houses. Kew hosts the oldest and largest collection of living plants in the world, representing some 30,000 species, and for a plant lover like me, it’s something damn close to paradise. Continue reading “Among the orchids”