I agonised over the scans of these images. The scanner was continually auto-correcting, filling Jones's flowers with brighter colour and making everything else black and white. I had to change it to professional mode so that it would just pick up what was there, and do justice to all of the subtle inflections of Jones's work. But this isn't the point, the scans only give you a glimmer of an idea of what the work really is. Today my David Jones Pilgrimage reminded me why seeing work in the flesh is a breathtaking, tear-inducing and necessary part of appreciating the artists that you love. For Jones, not being widely read meant that the printing costs of his books were problematic. Most of the reproductions of his paintings, drawings and prints are poor quality, in black and white and often underwhelming. In Kettles Yard, guided by the women who work there, the importance of Jones's art was brought back in to sharp focus.
Vexilla Regis, 1948, Graphite and Watercolour on paper
This might just look like a tangled and wooded work of chaos, but behind the door in Jim Ede's bedroom you can take a moment to look a little deeper in to the tangle. New dimensions and perspectives buried in the branches shift in to focus. We discover Stone Henge embedded on a hill in the distance, mythic horses charging the break and sculpted angels mounted on deteriorated plinths. There is a connection between Jones's paintings, his inscriptions and his poetry; here is all of mythology actively present in the landscape, here is the wooded quarry of Jones's imagination made manifest.
Flora and Calix light, 1950, Graphite and watercolour on paper
Jones's Chalice painting provides an alternative window out of the house. It is a celebration of the wild detritus of a fading bloom. Once again all perspectives exist in tandem so that the floral fireworks and transparent chalice give way to the frame of the window. Often mistaken for a simple vase, the chalice holds imaginative potential and symbolism as a mystical object.
Quia per incarnati, 1953, watercolour on paper
I have already used a scan from this inscription in my post about 'the field between poetry and painting', but the copy was from The Anathemata and was already a grainy black and white reproduction. When I walked downstairs to find 'Quia per incarnati' in the house of the Ede's I had the real revelatory moment of my pilgrimage. Within the pages of the book it is easy to fall in to the fiction and imagine the words carved in stone and to see the inscriptions as a separate genre of work entirely. But this is very much a David Jones painting, the letters finely carved with watercolour and brush, inflected with light touches of colour are a development of visual languages.
I have decided that I could quite happily spend the rest of my life being a super geek and working in the Kettles Yard house. First of all it is just a beautiful space to work in and secondly everybody just kept telling me stories; about Dai (David Jones) dropping sculptures when he came to stay, recalling things they had read in the books (including Jim Ede suggesting Jones was assertive and slept with Petra), and remembering the reactions of visitors to his work.
My new work station amongst the art books!
It would be a pleasure to be adopted in to the small circle of adoring Dai Greatcoat fans. Perhaps stalking Kettles Yard is the way to do it!