A Knocking in the Cupboard

The second half of the twentieth century was rich in brilliantly creative women painters and sculptors. Tate Modern alone has recently showcased two of the finest in Agnes Martin and Georgia O’Keefe.

In the poem below, and in writing this post, I am hoping to promote a British artist who has gained considerable recognition, but who has yet to achieve the level of acknowledgement she deserves.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (great name) was born in Fife in 1912, and she died there in 2004. She was associated with the Newlyn and St Ives groups of artists in Cornwall.

I’m not going to write any other words about her work, except to say that she devoted a substantial part of her career to painting and drawing glaciers.

As usual, digitised photos of paintings are no substitute for the power and beauty of the real thing, but here are two of her images, sandwiching my poem.

Barns-Graham, Wilhelmina, 1912-2004; Upper Glacier

 Upper Glacier, 1950

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Discloses the Glacier

 As a bird flies, a total experience –

all angles at once

above

through and all around:

this transparency reveals hidden energy

in each curving, turning, intersecting line.

 

She meditates on natural sculpture,

incises it

into abstract planes:

crafts cracks and pressures’ dynamics

into splintered translucencies.

 

Light is reflected in fracture –

is frozen –

making evanescent geometry

of the slides and sparkles,

the fragmented mass

and the tracery of prismatic friction.

 

She wheels and glides, spying turquoise and pink

in each crystal-snubbed glacier snout.

 

resizer.php

Glacier Surface, 1984

Barns-Graham painted many other subjects and her work moved towards an intense minimalism. The glacier images form a fascinating core.

We associate the word ‘glacier’ with evidence of climate change. Whether we deal with global warming successfully or not, the glaciers will be back.

“The glacier knocks in the cupboard” is a line from WH Auden’s ‘As I Walked Out One Evening’.

Ted x

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. Hiya,

    Love the red caverns drawing, amazing! And loving poem about seeing the flight of the real thing. xxx

    Best,

    Jack

    http://www.jackeames.com

    T: +44 (0) 203 663 1934 M: +44 (0) 7960 423 735

    Shed Workspace 2 Jack Eames Photography 8 Lee Street E8 4DY

    >

  2. Hi Ted, Can any of WBG’s paintings be seen in the flesh anywhere?As it happens, As I Walked Out One Evening (walking down Bristol Street) is one of the poems i recently learned by heart. There are such stunning images in it – of eternal love (‘I’ll love you till the ocean is folded and hung out to dry, and the seven stars go squawking like geese about the sky…’)and of waste and loss (the glacier knocks in the cupboard, the desert sighs in the bed, and the crack in the teacup opens a lane to the land of the dead…’)Brilliant.I like your poem too! Agxx

    From: Maintenantmans Blog

    To: agmackeith@yahoo.co.uk Sent: Wednesday, 17 August 2016, 17:31 Subject: [New post] A Knocking in the Cupboard #yiv0168075512 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0168075512 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0168075512 a.yiv0168075512primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0168075512 a.yiv0168075512primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0168075512 a.yiv0168075512primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0168075512 a.yiv0168075512primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0168075512 WordPress.com | maintenantman posted: “The second half of the twentieth century was rich in brilliantly creative women painters and sculptors. Tate Modern alone has recently showcased two of the finest in Agnes Martin and Georgia O’Keefe.In the poem below, and in writing this post, I am hopi” | |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s