Borderlands VI: Blue Embrace

Above: detail from Borderlands VI: Blue Embrace

Earlier this year I produced a series of Borderlands paintings that were based on the village model I made for filmed sequences of The Mare’s Tale, a commissioned work for chamber-ensemble and one actor by composer Mark Bowden and librettist Damian Walford Davies. The chamber-work was initially inspired, as the title suggests, by my Mari Lwyd-themed sequence of works. Footage of the model was projected onto the stage during the performance.


Here is the model…

… and here, one of the paintings I later made of it


Now I’m using the landscape of the model juxtaposed with another of my regular narrative themes, that of the blind saint, Hervé, with the wolf who became his lifelong companion after slaying his dog. Although not celebrated in Wales, the birthplace of both his parents, Hervé is popular in Brittany, where his feast day of June 17th is celebrated, and a fountain (well) that bears his name at his chapel at Gourin, continues as a place of pilgrimage for those who bring sick animals to be cured. This new piece, plus four of the Borderlands landscape paintings, is for The Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London, opening next month, in which I was invited by selector Simon Martin to show six works.

16 thoughts on “Borderlands VI: Blue Embrace

  1. So glad you are using that model, I really love it. You must be thrilled to be showing at the Mall Galleries, or maybe you have done so before? Anyhow, I just love your narrative paintings on Hervé, I’m pleased to see you back with that theme, maybe it feels like coming home to a tale you know so well? What size will they be?

    • Thank you, Liz. I shall always return to saints Hervé and Kevin. They’re my touchstones.

      This is a first for me at the Mall Galleries. The Discerning Eye is a rather iconic open exhibition event that I’ve never entered, and so I feel mightily pleased that Simon Martin selected me as one of his ‘judge’s choice’ of artists. Long ago I entered the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition on two consecutive years, and both times my work was accepted. The achievement felt like notches on my belt, and afterwards there was relief that I could quite happily stop at that, and not tempt fate a third time. Two consecutive Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions on my CV would do very nicely, thank you. Now I feel that I’ve got The Discerning Eye as another belt notch, I won’t have to think about doing that again. (I really hate putting myself through exhibitions requiring submission, especially when the cost of transporting art is so high these days.)

      All six works measure 38 x 38 cms. There’s a size limit for the exhibition inclusive of frame, and with frames mine are just under it. I’m sending the four paintings I made earlier this year of the model, plus the two new works of Hervé within that landscape. I’m finishing the second one today, so it’s all go! I’ll be labouring late into the night!

  2. I love these men in your paintings; with horses, with wolves, with birds… The animals and the landscapes are great, but for me, they (the young, and the not so young men) are what keep me riveted to the images.

    I keep saving all I can, and when I have saved enough, I shall buy a print or a painting. (Depending on my business; now is a difficult period, but it will not last forever. Hopefully.)

    • Maria, it’s so heartening to me that you enjoy these images. Working as a painter is an isolating business, locked away in the studio far away from anyone. So to hear that works done here, reach out into the world where they can touch other, warms my heart.

      A drawing. Perhaps when the time is right, a drawing would be the thing for you to acquire. I draw with passion, and whether a sketch or something worked more thoroughly, the drawings cost a lot less than the paintings, especially when made on paper. Keep telling me what you like, and one day I may find the right thing for you. (I’m quite sure I will!)

      The very best from Wales.

      • I love drawings. I always say I would much rather have one of those flying machine drawings by Leonardo, than the Mona Lisa…
        This is a great idea of yours. Thank you.

        I will go on saving money, and the moment I have saved enough, I will tell you. In the meantime, I will go on coming here to feast my eyes and my spirit.

        And thank you again, for sharing with us from all over the world, and giving us such enjoyment.
        ¡ May the gods be with you, and smile !

        • Maria, thank you for your good wishes. And thank you for visiting the Artlog, and for sharing your thoughts here. Much appreciated. It’s because of those who come here and write in the comment boxes that I continue. It wouldn’t work for me at all if there were no dialogue.

          I’m with you on Leonardo da Vinci. I too would prefer a drawing to the Mona Lisa. (I think I can hear a collective intake of breath from all the curators and art historians!)

          My very best wishes.

    • Only last night I was watching a documentary about the process of re-introducing the wolf to some of the over-grazed north American wildernesses, where a healthy population of larger predators would benefit the environment. But the hunting and ranching lobby is vociferous, and the prejudice against wolves deep-rooted. I fear it’s an uphill struggle fro the conservation lobby.

      A few years ago I saw a pack of wolves in France come streaming toward a young woman who’d walked into their enclosure. My heart nearly stopped as they leapt at her and she came to her knees, only for shock to give way to delight as she rolled and played with them. She was their keeper, and they were like puppies with her, as affectionate as domestic dogs.

      • Very interesting Clive. I have a Weimaraner who is pretty much 80% wolf I would say😊. I’m so glad I found your work via Tamsin Abott on FB I think. Thank you for sharing your process which is fascinating. I have a staffordshire spill jar of a sleeping shepherdess and sheep. Would a photo of it be of any interest. (I’m a potteries girl and my grandmother was a paintress in one of the pot banks, perhaps where my artistic bent came from).

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