the tale told twice

Looking back it seems extraordinary that I made two versions of The Soldier’s Tale in eighteen months. The first for the Prince William Symphony Players and their performance in Washington DC, and the second for the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra at the 2013 Hay Festival.

The two versions had certain cross-over elements, but as the second one developed, it became significantly more elaborate in ambition and different in tone to the first. Here are pairs of images. In each case the first image is from the Washington presentation, and the second from the one made for the Hay Festival.

Joseph and the Princess


Joseph and his violin

The Devil as a Pedlar Woman

The Devil as a Butterfly-catcher

Joseph plays the violin

The Devil’s coach and horses

For the Washington performance I sent the images electronically to be edited into a presentation by the producer. I wasn’t present for the event, though my friend Anita Mills very kindly travelled to Washington to see it for me.

Below: There were no backgrounds for the Washington version, a deficit I made good for the Hay presentation.

For the Hay performance I worked with the film-maker and cameraman Pete Telfer, and the conductor of Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra, James Slater, to create a much more elaborate presentation of sequential images and animations. I was present at the performance to cue it from the score.

Click HERE to read a review of the Hay Festival performance.

Right now I’m making paintings based on the second version, for my exhibition at Oriel Tegfryn, Menai Bridge, later this year.

14 thoughts on “the tale told twice

  1. Great to see the work from both projects side by side. What strikes me is how both versions are so strongly and beautifully complete in their own universe, both draw you in and convince you just the same. I find the devil becomes creepier and more unsettling in the images made for the Hay Festival version and Joseph sweeter; he looks like he doesn’t stand a chance against the devil, but he’s all the more endearing for it 🙂 love the ‘flight’ painting, it’s haunting

    • When I did the first version I was thinking almost entirely in formal terms. I colour-balanced the images to get that jewel-dark effect. Joseph was rather rakishly handsome, and the Princess conventionally pretty. Everything was in visual terms.

      By the time I came to make the second version, I was much more switched on to the emotional levels of the story, and tried to better convey the cruelty of it all. So Joseph assumed a heartrending innocence, while the Princess was no longer the cool Hitchcock blonde, but reinvented into the drugged-up hippy-chick in the two images directly above.

      I’m suspicious of that Princess. She entreats Joseph to cross the border, even though the Devil has warned that he’ll claim Joseph’s soul if he steps over it. Moreover she hangs back when they approach the border, and I’m sure that’s because she knows all hell is about to be let loose on poor Joseph. I think she has a heart of ice. (Or worse!)

      All the way through the tale there is the relentless pull of fate on Soldier Joseph, as though he’s been targeted by an arch-predator, and the conclusion is foregone. Nevertheless Joseph’s essential sweetness and optimism shine through. This is no Faustian pact, with Joseph bargaining earthly pleasures in return for forfeiting his immortal soul. He’s not greedy or ambitious, and all he wants is to get home to see his fiancé and mother. This is denied him. The Devil stalks and tricks him, and by the time Joseph realises what’s happened, he’s already doomed. It’s a tragedy.

      That is such a cheeky photograph of you!

      • Yes, that intoxicated princess is quite something, her eyes are slightly mad, but promise some exotic, erotic adventure – the way Joseph holds her so tenderly and she just gazes out at us, impenetrable.
        As for my photo, hehe, cheeky, you’re right , I think I’ve got my ‘wot u lookin’ at’ face on

  2. i loved both these projects, it’s amazing how you could pursue them with such different color and mood and they could both be so powerful and magical. but that second to last image still knocks me over every time i see it!!

    • Hello Jeffery. Happy New Year to you.

      This is a bit of re-blogging, as I posted about both versions when I was making them. But today I saw images from the two juxtaposed on a Pinterest site, and realised that there would be a bit of mileage in a post showing aspects from the two versions, side by side. I’m glad you like them.

    • The version made for the Washington concert was not animated as such, though there were sequential passages of images that came close to animation.

      The version made for the Hay Festival is safely stashed away ready for its next outing, though there’s no plan at the moment for Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra to give further performances of The Soldier’s Tale.

      The rights for the film belong to me as the artist, and so I guess at some point I could make it available to other orchestras.

      Who are you?

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