In the process of hanging Nathan Ford’s exhibition, I have been considering how best to hang Nathan’s ’90 days of lockdown’ series.
Ninety paintings, painted over the course of the first lockdown, beginning mid-March 2020, and ending in early June. As with all Nathan’s work, these little still lifes have a strong familial core, with the daisies, buttercup, wild sweet pea, clover, dandelion, wild strawberry etc. all gathered from the daily family walk during lockdown.
This is the scene of the action in Nathan’s studio.
The cup is the canvas within a canvas, and with radio or music in the background, this daily ‘ looking ‘ was Nathan’s way of making the lockdown productive, a disciplined project in minutiae-observation he had previously toyed with.
The emotional cadences of the radio news cycle, family life, music; the saw-toothed leaves, the flaccid stalks, the weeds brought to life by water are shot through with the quotidian ups and downs of living, looking while living in lockdown.
All the paintings are oil on canvas and are framed with art-glass (non-reflective) and tulip wood frames.
The short film shows Nathan in his studio, sorting and arranging the ‘90 days’ collection, as well as showing the woodland and hills where the plants were gathered. Links to the film can be found on the Beaux Arts website; YouTube; Instagram; and Facebook.
I like to think of the plants Nathan thought of the plants the way Leonard Cohen sang about the ‘heroes in the seaweed’:
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
We still have some of Jack Doherty’s gorgeous smaller ribbed vessels. Click here to see what is available or message me for additional images.
The good news is that now Candlemas/Brigid’s Day/imbolg – the midway point between winter solstice and spring equinox- has been and gone, it is all downhill towards spring.
Her Prayers came by the handful
glories and mysteries
honed to a clacket of beads
emptied from a change purse.
To each in turn she applied arthritic pressure,
a stroke to placate and draw
the genies out.
She didn’t say a thing; bead-struck,
this hush echoed
what she gave as response
to ‘what do you pray for?’
The son that died,
or the son that lived? My question
forbidding as any grandchild’s ‘why
Is the sky blue?’ But words
went with these fingerings; I saw them parting
her lips, and so great was
the speed of their sound, they were
gone before I’d caught
even one. Instead, from memory,
the voice of the class, reciting
reciting. That was prayer.
This was praying:
Laurie Greer ‘Snowdrops/Candlemas Bells’
Thanks again for reading.