From 1st July until 30th September, my painting “Paradise Claimed” is on display at The Fisher Theatre, Bungay. Not just any old landscape painting – this one started as a capital “P” cut from a two foot square piece of plywood! It is one of the eight letters of the word “PARADISE” that has been painted, decorated, adorned or otherwise creatively rendered on behalf of eight art organisations in the Waveney & Blyth micro-region and located in eight of the region’s venues. The project is part of Waveney & Blyth Arts summer programme and aimed at encouraging people to discover more about the area. I’ve painted the “P” on behalf of Black Dog Arts.
Inside the 2015 W&BA summer brochure (which is, incidentally, full of great events) is a pull-out collecting card. Each venue has a unique rubber stamp. Collect all eight stamps on your card and you can enter it in a draw for prizes which will include tickets from some of the the venues and other goodies. In addition, at each venue will be details of another “secret” treasure hunt. All eight letters will be auctioned on 8th October.
“Paradise Claimed” is an entirely imaginary painting which references a number of sources.
- The early influence on me as a future painter of seeing “classical” (often ‘Italianate’ and allegorical) history/landscape paintings in museums and books. These paintings seemed to describe a peaceful, relaxed time when healthy, often half-naked men and women inhabited a rural world where the sun shone on animals grazing the land around ruined temples. Merging in my mind with later, well-known Constable (and other Norwich School) paintings which described the real rural landscape of his time, these idealised “classical” pictures appeared to me to describe a lost time when everything was rather perfect. Of course, I now know that such images were often allegorical, rarely described the rural poverty and slavery that actually existed at the time, and were usually painted for the delectation of a wealthy elite in order to reinforce their view (and ownership) of the world around them. Probably just as importantly, as a young boy, I was also rather attracted to the idea of a world in which half-naked shepherdesses were an integral feature of the natural landscape – which was not that dissimilar to the rural landscape around me in East Anglia!
- Milton’s “Paradise Lost” which describes the well-known story of the “fall from grace” from The Old Testament.
- My own mature (and possibly more rational) view of the function of the religious stories I was taught in childhood.
“Paradise Claimed” imagines a world in which a couple of early humans (let’s call them Edam and Ave), dis-quieted by a voice advising them to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, fear that they may have been chosen as unwitting pawns in a plan to establish a world religion. They fear that person or persons unknown might be planning to keep a curious population in its place by discouraging it from seeking knowledge (and we all know that knowledge is power) through the invention and promotion of guilt. Alarmed by the prospect, they make a quick escape, leaving the Garden of Even and relocating to the nearby Blythvaney Valley – where they establish a small rural enterprise selling a wide range of fruit to the curious from the shelter of a conveniently vacant “classical” folly. Naturally attracted to this rational enterprise, Justice descends from her temporary position atop the folly (to which she had been assigned after a period of employment as a sculpture catalogue model) to become an equal partner in the business – “Knowledge and Justice”. Thus – they have claimed their paradise.