The West Wall of All Saints – oil on canvas – 75 x 100 cm
This painting carries on my fascination with the curious stones and flints on the west wall of this amazing church. This picture is much larger than the previous version it measures 30” x 40”. The increase in size allows me to paint the stones in more detail. This painting is unusual because there is no foreground and no background and as the stones are quite detailed this creates the impression that there is some space in front of them. Whereas in my earlier picture the stones are painted entirely from life in this painting I’m using photographic references. I did consider booking into the room in the Blue Boar Hotel that overlooks this part of the wall, however the space in the room was not really suitable to set up a painting.
There is something uncanny about this wall, it seems that each individual stone whilst being part of the whole has nonetheless retained its own identity. In this picture subject matter and the painting technique go hand in hand. As the picture progressed the details and the colours started to create a mesmerizing psychedelic effect. This picture has something in common with the works of Outsider artists and I’ll be discussing my relationship with such art in future blogs.
I think this picture would look good as a blow up wall effect or perhaps as wallpaper hung above the dado rail in a certain kind of room.
There is of course a mystery about the construction of this wall. It forms one side of an equilateral triangular tower that was built in the early part of the 13th century. No other church in England has a three-sided tower. Some think it represents the fundamental belief of the builders in the Holy Trinity, or perhaps the landscape dictated this design. But for me the real mystery is the nature of the materials. On no other church have I seen flints and blocks of masonry as large as these. What was in the minds of the workers when they set these stones? The narrow window is surrounded by stones and flints seemingly selected at random yet this wall was constructed during the 13th century at a time when the architectural style was English Gothic with soaring arches and pointed windows, compared to such buildings this wall looks like folk art. It is known that some of the materials were part of a previous monument and perhaps they had some special significance for the denizens of mediaeval Maldon.
The name Maldon derives from two Saxon words which translate as ‘cross on the hill’ and ‘meeting’. The word Maldon was first recorded as ‘Maeldun’ in an ancient Anglo Saxon chronicle dated 913. It’s highly likely that a Christian community existed in this area as far back as the 7th or 8th century and they built a cross that was later dismantled.
This is one of my favourite paintings perhaps because it is so unique. If you are interested in seeing it as a work in progress then there are various images in the blog section on my website.