Thursday 5 January 2017

Dancing rhythms

Dancing rhythms in landscape

In the early sixties I was always looking for lines or groups of people, trees, buildings, windmills that would form shapes to dance across my canvas. I kept the colours dark and the backgrounds pale, to emphasize these shapes, bundled up, twisting and turning in space, balancing strategically in the composition as it were on a rope stretched from side to side. Reminders of my hobby as a student of walking on a slack-rope. But undoubtedly also a reflection of who I was in those days: unhappily married, struggling to stay balanced, looking for the way out. (That would come later, with explosions of intense colour). All the oils below were painted on canvasses of of approximately 80 x 60 cm. 

The windmills of Zaandijk in the icy winter of 1962

Snow was useful to provide contrast, but I employed the same arrangements in summer landscapes. As I look back at these early works, I hear the musical rhythms and tempi of these organized seemingly kinetic forms, forceful sounds fading to a whisper on the horizon or escaping off the canvas. Those sharp irregular chopping and sawing sounds of woodcutters in the snow made modern music, with two very quiet final notes provided by a couple of tourists, standing still.
Woodcutters in the snow, Blatten, near Zermatt, Switzerland,1963.

The quiet adagio of a Jeu de Boules in Carpentras, Provence - only the rustle of plane trees, the crunch of gravel, murmured commentaries and occasionally a sudden clack! 

Jeu de  Boules in Provence, 1963.

The twisting lakeside road through Weggis (Switzerland) from which you have one vista after another across the lake (cue horns?) - a dancing line full of surprises.

Lakeside road through Weggis, Switzerland, 1965

The clatter of skis being put on, skiers climbing sideways with staccato edges in the snow, then rhythmic rasping sounds, fading away as they disappeared over the edge of the mountain. Every skier knows those sounds.
Skiers, 1966.
Maybe there's a framework here for a composition of five movements.  Who could put this to music?


  1. Reviving Waldteufel (Les Patiners) or Rimsky-Korsakov, the great orchestrator, might provide suitable material. Otherwise in our own time I am sure Charlotte Bray could manage it.

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  3. You've managed to conjure nothing short of pure poetry for the senses--visual and aural--in this exquisite quintet of work.