Half price or a jolly bonfire?

We are leaving my birth county of Devon and going almost as far away as possible on mainland Britain, to the Scottish Highlands. 

It’s been brewing a while and after ten years here the time seems right.  Before entering true dotage I’d like to re-engage with my beloved Scottish wildcat Felis sylvestris and do what I can to help its terrible plight – one of the world’s rarest carnivores. This is Britain’s elusive tiger but very few people know about it; even fewer ever see it.

Anyway, the MOVE! My ranks of unsold paintings are viewed with dismay, and when we told the removal man there were about 180 he went away, chatted with a colleague, came back and trying hard but unsuccessfully not to snigger raised the price of our trip by a £1k!  So, I have to face the inevitable, and though I relish non-commerciality (as appraised by most unimaginative galleries), my stock of paintings is I guess far too much. 

Paintings on death row (or out on probation possibly)

All are oil, either on canvas or wood panels. Some have been through earlier moves and all are tough battle-hardened characters – up for anything – but I’d so rather not sacrifice them to some funeral pyre.

OK, so be it, therefore here is my alternative to a grand bonfire: all paintings at half price or more (if you really want one). Please go to my Artfinder site https://www.artfinder.com/artist/richard-meyer/#/. You might see something you’d like: any reasonable offer accepted!

Paul Jackson – the fine potter – tells me that to lower the prices undervalues my work.

Maybe, but I’m in no position to be precious!

Elegy to a giant

Elegy to a giant

A great silent giant was felled this year
And no-one much seemed to shed a tear.
The great mother beech, there since the war,
Has had all its days and is no more.
I counted the rings, as old as me.
But unlike me, good for a century.
It took a day, maybe a bit more:
Just two cheerful blokes with a chainsaw.

They did the unnecessary deed
While agreeing there was no need.
I think all their jokes were just cover.
They knew the job, and would have spared her;
So they claimed, yay, so they claimed, but who’s
To know if they care what they lose?
They will never see the autumn gold
And will never hear the tales it told.

Tough funny guys with all their gear;
They gather it up and disappear.
Strangely, the owners disappeared too –
Best not to watch when bombs drop near you.
The excuse they proffered – was there one? –
It cast some shade and cost them the sun.
But then they erect a canopy
Is that really better than a tree?

A tree that’s stood for seventy years
Seeing children’s dens and children’s tears
Providing sustenance and shelter,
Nests, resting and food for all manner
Of animals with or without flight
Then there’s ferns, lichens and bryophytes
All these denied for a whim of one
Father who feels deprived of some sun.

A tiny part of the year maybe,
For a nature-loving family.
Or so the mother once claimed to me
So she claimed, yay, so she claimed to be.
People love nature on the TV
But better let it not directly
Get in their way or then you will see
A ruthless disdain for wild beauty.

© RM Meyer
Winswell Water, January 2021

Before
After

Two paintings gone

I was aghast not that long ago to find I have about 180 unsold paintings! So, in an attempt to save some storage space (not having a kindly brother, called Theo, to whom I can send them), I decided to have a bit of a Sale. The prices are as low as I can make them without destroying the value of the work – I must remain faithful to past buyers. So all are now on Artfinder – please have a browse sometime.

One thing that fascinates me is that most of my paintings sold recently have gone to the States. I wonder why?

Regarding undervaluing one’s own work, I would rather give a painting away to a good home than sell it to a poor one. All said and done, it’s more about art than money, isn’t it? But one has to live I suppose.

One collector when offered a painting at a lower price (my appreciation of her loyalty) said, “No, this is our way of contributing to art, if we can’t do it ourselves.” I remain impressed by this statement and have never forgotten it. If you’re reading this, you know who you are!

These are the two paintings, I’ll leave you to guess which went stateside and which to Surrey.

A poem for lockdown

Where you are not
I
Where you are not is where you want to be.
When you are there do you think ‘Somewhere new’?
Why do we move? Some notion to be free?
Or to some place else for a better view?
II
Today I find freedom in a locked room
But yesterday I moved on anxiously.
Now I find the near view to be the moon
And see the old wall microscopically.

Look deep! A detailed vista lies within
Another new mysterious landscape
Awaits and by scale alone is hidden;
But square it up and make the detail great.
III
The miniature expands in essence
Overlooking far and wide distance.
Study hard the tiny inflorescence
And jewel-like crustose lichens will entrance.

Fruticose ones, emerald mosses creep through
Crumbled joints of mortar into chasms
Inch miles deep, and astonish the narrow view.
Stay put, look hard and behold new prisms.
IV
Let’s lock ourselves down and swap our places,
We might be settled, even happier.
Forsake streams of cars in endless races
Going to some new place where once we were.

© RM Meyer
Winswell Water December 2020

Bird in the hand

So I get to pondering why some birds are born tame. Why some show little or  no fear of our towering human presences, while others, from the same brood, behave like normal wild animals and avoid close contact at all costs. Perhaps they are the sensible ones.

Perhaps, the Robin – emblem of countless Christmas cards – more than any other species has been spared human cruelty and persecution: gardeners enjoy their close association and naturalists love their winter song (on account of the fact they hold territories through the year). Those are some of the reasons, but why this particular individual?

 

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Slightly blurry photo taken with one hand!

Straight from the nest, she was confiding and tame, on the ground round our feet, soon coming to the hand for food. Slightly wary at first but now she comes and demands it, as though I’m her natural parent (anything less like is difficult to imagine).

When she lands confidently, her tiny claws pressing into my flesh, I know I’m in direct contact with a life form which has come down through millennia despite all the vicissitudes of climate, predators, man and habitat change.

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This confiding little creature enlivens and enchants. I just hope that losing her fear of man, does not dull her reflexes, because there are plenty of other dangers: cats always a danger here. And Sparrowhawks need to feed too.

Art for free, or very nearly! [Plus a thought on Coronavirus]

In these trying times many people are told to stay indoors – I’m one of them. But while the human species is being sorely tested, nature carries on: following the seasons as it has since the beginning of time. The rain falls, the sun shines and the wind blows. With the weather hopefully getting better (in the UK at least) we can venture outside more – in our garden, if we’re lucky enough to have one, in the park – best early morning or lovely dusky time (‘dimpsey’ as we say in Devon), along the riverbank, or roaming moorland, woods, seashore, cliffs or farmland etc.

But, if we have physically to stay indoors, don’t forget the boundless bookshelf: doorway into a million other worlds. If you don’t have a bookshelf, there are lots of free books online… And in this ‘ill wind’ there are some glorious free breezes, and so thought to do my (tiny) bit:

Reading: an opportunity to read the old first edition of the adventure I wrote quite some years ago; it was then called ‘The Children Who Wouldn’t…’  and it is now available as a Kindle free introductory download or for a minimal £0.99p from Amazon. Please visit https://tinyurl.com/yd6onv64 to see it and some great reviews. Here are two examples:

Rob: “It has been a long time since I have read a book that I couldn’t put down. Once I had started this book I had to finish it. When is the next book coming out?”  (2014).

David Freedman, author of Artist Blacksmith Sculpture: “This book takes the reader on a fantastical journey. A genuine adventure story, carefully crafted and beautifully told. It is a highly original and imaginative tale that keeps you guessing. Would highly recommend to children and adults alike” (April 2014). 

Susan Hampshire: “Its a wee bit more challenging that most children’s books. Its the kind of book that I imagine best read aloud..a chapter a week and then discussed. Lovely and old fashioned in a sense. (2014).

So, this is the original version of a story which I’ve subsequently edited under the title ‘Trespassers in Their Own Land’. Having now finished two sequels, I’m looking for a publisher prepared to take on these as a trilogy: working title, A Wilderness of Secrets.

And please don’t forget, whatever the government pretends, the Badger cull still continues, and my book The Fate of the Badger http://www.fire-raven.co.uk is sadly as relevant today as ever. Sir Michael Morpurgo says, “Fate of the Badger is so important to the Fate of the Countryside. There is so much to unlearn. Then we may have to start paying attention.’

On Painting: my studio is sadly no more – having been converted into a dwelling (financial necessity) – so I literally have a shed-full of paintings which I’m ordered to declutter (Clutter!! What?!). Anyway, all those I have languishing in two sheds, see https://richardmeyer.co.uk are available at drastic knock-down prices…! Basically make me an offer, and I’d be unlikely to refuse!

Meantime, putting on my zoologist’s hat, I’ve noticed very little, if any, attention is being paid to Coronavirus from a zoological perspective. Believing that one should know one’s enemy, it’s important to understand how viruses work. Coronavirus is not a disease, that’s Covid-19, but an organism of the genus Betacoronavirus, and as such its aim is to multiply, and not cause disease – which is an unfortunate consequence from their ‘point of view’. It benefits no parasite (or pathological organism) to kill it’s host, which is why it is the vulnerable human who is most likely to succumb. Nature at work is not always humane but it might help if we try to understand and not always look at everything from an anthropocentric point of view.

This is just my view, so please make contact, and let’s have a virtual conversation.

PAINTINGS OR PICTURES?

Review of recent exhibition of some nature painting with Eilean Eland’s sculpture with some thoughts on the differences between paintings and ‘pictures’.

       

  Eland Blue woman               Meyer Sweetpeas in a blue jug

Having just taken down my exhibition with ceramicist Eilean Eland at RHS Rosemoor, I fell to reflecting on its success (or lack of it) and the responses of some sturdy folk who visited having braved the often pretty awful weather, and have once again come to the conclusion that most people look at pictures, not at paintings.  Let me explain, and I’m not speaking here of watercolours, they are a quite different kettle of fish!

In galleries, paintings are usually scanned cursorily, and not examined or studied.  But let’s distinguish between pictures and paintings: a picture is always a picture, but often not a painting. In other words, the ‘artist’ is primarily concerned with a pictorial effect: something perhaps intended to please the casual eye, or maybe summon up a memory or some other pleasant feeling.

‘Real’ painters may be concerned with this too but something much deeper is going on.  Those who enjoy real painting (verb) and real paintings (noun) will peer deeply into its heart to see the construction, the harmonies, the composition and the sheer physicality of the actual paint itself (the texture and ‘brushwork’.  Herein, I submit, lies real joy and satisfaction.

I stood beside people and showed them the way the work was created: some see it immediately, some get it, many do not or they are simply not interested.  Their interest starts and ends with pictures – the superficial surface effect – there is nothing wrong with this even though I regret it, if only because it means my paintings do not sell very well!

You might be drawn to a picture by its superficial character, a bit like one might find a pop song catchy at first even if it soon becomes irritating.  An awful lot of pictures are like that: you stop seeing them – they become wallpaper.  That won’t happen with a real painting because its depths are infinite and each viewer brings to it their own unique perspective.

In the arts, let’s briefly compare painting, which has prehistoric origins, with more modern media.  To read a book requires investment of time, as does listening to a piece of music, so why is a painting just glanced at?  It  always strikes me as odd because a painting, unlike the other two examples, is independent of time – you can stand mesmerised by it for ages, no pressure.  So why is it that most visitors look at a painting for about 5 seconds?  One study showed that in major galleries, viewers glance at a painting for less than two seconds, read wall text for 10 seconds, glance back at the painting to verify something, then move on to the next.

I’ll leave you with a couple of examples from paintings at Rosemoor to show the detail and texture which cursory viewing misses and leave you decide your own response. Thanks so much for reading this.


Detail of ‘Daffodils in a blue glass’, Oil on cardboard 76 x 53.5cm

Detail of  ‘Barn in a landscape with dancing figures’, Oil on board 35.5 x 49.5 cm

RHS Exhibition and Christmas Greetings

Just a chance to wish everyone a happy time this Christmas season.

Apologies if you’ve already seen this but it’s been such a difficult year, what with losing £15,000 to a building company than went bust after agreeing to convert my studio into a small dwelling and build a new one, I’m not too sure what I have done and haven’t! But we carry on: little money but lots of rain and mud, and good spirits (most of the time).

Thankfully there is always Art and Poetry.

EXHIBITIONx2 RHS Rosemoor.jpg

Please contact me direct for more information and/or visit my website https://richardmeyer.co.uk/index.php/news.

New RHS Exhibition

Barn in a landscape with dancing figures, Oil on board 35.5 x 49.5 cm (1)Barn in a landscape with dancing figures, Oil on board 35.5 x 49.5 cm

Hallo,
Just to let you know that Eilean Eland and myself have an exhibition at RHS Rosemoor in the Exhibition Room opening this weekend, running through till January.

As you can see from the picture at the top, they are not all flower pieces this time, so if you are in or near North Devon please do come along. It would be great to see you, I’ll be there off and on, and if you’d like to meet up send me a note and I’ll make sure I’m there.

Additionally, the Winter Sculpture exhibition is also on and in the evenings there is the beautiful Glow event (see https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/whats-on/rosemoor-glow for more details).

Hope you can make it
All good wishes for the Christmas season.

Richard