My exhibition Dark Movements, made in collaboration with the American poet, Jeffery Beam, ran through the Summer of 2015 at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. The dancer Jordan Morley was tireless in his support for the project, turning himself inside-out and back-to-front to be my model for all the paintings.
Three years on and Jeffrey’s dream to have his poems published, alongside images of the paintings they had accompanied in the exhibition, has come to pass. Tireless encouragement for the project came from Sarah Parvin (aka The Curious One), who has also contributed an essay, and from Jeffery’s close circle of admirers and supporters, among whom Maria Maestre has been a significant moving force for both author and artist. My heartfelt congratulations to Kin Press, who published the book, and to J.C. Mlozanowski, who edited and designed it. I doff my cap to the many who helped bring Spectral Pegasus: Dark Movements to the finishing line, but especially to Stanley. (He knows why!)
My thanks for a contribution, each, from Mary Ann Constantine, reprinted with permission from Planet magazine, and from Claire Pickard, reprinted with permission from the blog of New Welsh Review.
And an especially warm thank you to Eve Ropek, whose support of Dark Movements when she was in post as Exhibitions Officer at the Arts Centre, was unflagging, insightful and inspiring throughout.
Spectral Pegasus: Dark Movements
Poems by Jeffery Beam and artworks by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Published by Kin Press
Copies available from Pen’rallt Bookshop, Machynlleth.
In an event organised by Pen’rallt Books, the poet will be reading from his work at:
Wednesday May 15th, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:45 PM
Clive and I were both in a “worrisome” time at the moment the Grey Mare decided to re-visit him. And what a healing moment it was for him to lead me to her and then allow me to seek my own visions through his second encounter with her. We now have her, but also Khidir – the Green Man – in common. Sarah and Maria were both so engaged during the collaboration as it revealed itself on the ArtLog (as was Marly Youmans) and it was the conversation that took place while the Mari Lwyd stomped around in Clive’s brain and led his hand, and as he gave me apples to feed her, and pomegranates! Clive’s visionary spirit and wonder (wander) is such an inspiration to all.
Jeffery, I listened to the CD, with you reading – and singing – the poems, for the first time at the weekend, whilst really giving myself time to look at each painting in the book. Like Maria writes below, poetry comes to life for me when it is spoken, as the voice is incredibly powerful when the poet truly knows how to use it as an interpretive instrument, and you, my friend, are a master of your craft. My abiding impression is how the dialogue between the art forms creates a dance, and a real sense of the collaboration unfolding, as it is that interplay of three men’s deeply felt personal experience, which is at the heart of these paintings and poems, although the story is told to us through the mysteries of myth, magic and dreams.
I’m looking forward to joining you and Clive at MOMA Machynlleth, on 15 May, for the official UK book launch of ‘Spectral Pegasus/Dark Movements’, where there will be the opportunity to experience poems, paintings and music all together (as well as the chance to see Clive’s captivating ‘Dark Movements’ toy theatre, once again, I hope!) The historian Plutarch, in his essay on the Glory of Athens, quoted Simonides, a Greek poet, as saying “painting is silent poetry and poetry, painting that speaks”, and the results of Clive’s continued willingness to collaborate with gifted poets, such as your good self, are proof, if proof were needed, of the undeniable truth of these words.
Clive, in my essay in this book, I write about your Mari Lwyd appearing to Jeffery Beam as Pegasus, legenday servant of the poets, who struck a hoof to the sacred earth and a spring of inspiration burst forth. Reflecting today, on the amazing trajectory your career has taken, since the ‘Dark Movements’ exhibition in 2015, I can’t help marvelling at the powerful creative forces your most recent encounter with the Mari Lwyd unleashed in you as well. It’s even more life-affirming, when I remember the tough times you were going through, personally, as this series of paintings emerged.
The example that both you and Jeffery give to us all is to keep putting work out there, even when we fear that nobody is going to pay attention, as look at all that can happen if we dare to keep believing in ourselves. My congratulations go to you for creating a body of work. which continues to inspire and move people in many different ways, over twenty years after you first brought the “numinous, luminous” Mari Lwyd, of your imaginings, into being.
Thank you, Sarah, for noticing, commenting and succouring. The Grey Mare is ever with me, in one guise or another, and I have come to regard her as my fitful muse. She’s not always benign, and she certainly isn’t pretty. But we rub along together, and she stirs and shakes and discombobulates me. Sometimes it’s the disturbing experiences that give us what we need the most.
with the ‘year of losses’ you have behind you,
my heart smiles, jumps, and yells….”Yeah!”,…
seeing ‘gains’ that were made,
during that rough time.
,…movement none the less.
Thank you, Gallagher, for your buoyant enthusiasm and optimism. It’s a fact that the past twelve months have marked a good too many losses of loved ones in my life, but they also wedded stoicism to creative achievement in ways that were somewhat surprising, as I didn’t have those two down as natural bedfellows. There were times when, bone-weary and at the point of despair in a professional partnership that had turned sour, I just wanted to throw in the towel. But I’m not a quitter, especially when I’m defending my team and my ideas, and I finally made it through to a great conclusion.
Remember that bible quote on tins of Golden Syrup, “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”, illustrated with a dead lion out of which pours a swarm of bees? Throughout all the trials and tribulations of the job I held that image in my mind, repeating it as my mantra. I would be strong for all the creative people who’d trustingly followed me into the project, and out of my resilience would come something good.
And in the end, that’s exactly what happened. Looking back, I can see that what by any standards would be judged an extraordinary series of professional achievements, were all the better for my having been through fires that annealed and made me stronger.
The book has arrived. I love it. I know I don’t deserve my mention in the part that says thanks, but all the same I shall treasure it for ever. And Jeffery tells me the CD is on its way. That is going to be a feast, because the poems in the book are better when read aloud, even if I just read them aloud to myself, and because Jeffery recites the poems and sings the “Pale Horse” on the CD.
So; Thank YOU, Clive, Jeffery, Sarah, Jordan, and all.
Love from Madrid
Maria, you DO deserve our thanks in the acknowledgements. You were a huge inspiration to both Jeffrey and to me. There are ideas in the poems and in the artworks that came entirely from you. For my own part, your correspondence amounted to a collaboration!