Monday, 23 January 2012

David Jones

David Jones: 'Hill Pasture: Capel-y-ffin'

Being at a loose end in Cardiff for a few hours on Saturday, I spent some time in the really very impressive National Museum.
Over the winter until the beginning of March there is an exhibition devoted to the drawings and paintings of the Anglo-Welsh artist & poet David Jones, best known perhaps for his major poetic works In Parenthesis and The Anathemata. Following his experiences in the First World War , Jones became a convert to Catholicism and joined the circle of artists around the sculptor Eric Gill, first at Ditchling and then in the former monastery buildings of the eccentric but pioneering Anglican Benedictine, Fr Ignatius at Capel-y-ffin near Llanthony on the Welsh border.

The exhibition shows clearly the overriding themes of David Jones’ work, both in his painting and his poetry, the 'sacramental'  landscape seen through the eyes of a devout Catholic Christian faith and owing much to the ‘romanitas’ of early medieval Welsh / British history and legend. In his disaffection with contemporary culture and with 'modernity' he can increasingly be seen as an important and prophetic figure.

I was introduced to the art and poetry of David Jones as young theology student (and I will always be very grateful  indeed for that life-changing experience) by representatives of those who thought we could have the poetry without the doctrinal orthodoxy, ironically those who have helped bring into the very heart of the Church the destructive tendencies Jones so lamented ; I wonder what he himself would have thought about that.

The Cardiff exhibition? Well worth a visit!

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