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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Poem: ... if we attend ...

Supple sensuous sinuous pencil lines combine
with sketchy swathes, swatches
and blotches of liquid colour,
minimal modelling merging near and far,
present and past on shallow space.
Glass chalices, open windows,
flowers and thorns, still life and landscape.
The Eucharist - one reality in the form of another,
heaven in ordinary - frames and forms his making –
all human making - sacramental signification,
inutile and gratuitous; graceful, playful,
light and loving, abundant and affirming.

If we attend the waters are freed,
aqueous light floods static subjects
as fluid flecks, flurries and washes of colour
suffuse, invade, imbue and inform
playing freely on forms creating flux,
confusing boundaries, circling round
transparent images, blending, merging all -
the wood and the trees - bringing all within
imaginations reach. The spiritual shimmering,
shining through the material, the universal
in the particular - seeing with, not through
the eye - for to pay attention, this is prayer.

A Londoner of Protestant upbringing,
Catholic subscription, and of particular
Welsh and English stock.
A Christian modernist chasing connection
through heritage and lineage,
interlinking, interleaving past and present;
like iconographers writing images,
David Jones opened windows into the divine
in Harrow-on-the-Hill, Capel-y-ffin,
Pigotts, and Portslade.

David Jones: Vision & Memory is at Pallant House, Chichester, until 21 February 2016. A concurrent exhibition The Animals of David Jones is on show at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. ‘if we attend’ (2015), a white, wall-mounted vitrine with translucent glazing and 16 porcelain vessels, is a new piece by Edmund de Waal produced especially for the David Jones exhibition at Pallant House. It references the calming slowing down effect of these words in the second line of Jones’s poem The Anathemata: ‘We already and first of all discern him making this thing other. His groping syntax, if we attend, already shapes…’.


David Jones - In Parenthesis.

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