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Looking For Fruitfulness

As summer turned into autumn I mused on Keats words, this season of mellow fruitfulness', who conspires with 'the maturing sun' 'to load and bless'. I have been out looking for apple and plum and hazel shell but found non of the Autumn Keats conjures in my heart. So I looked for how I had or had not been fruitful this year. I concluded that my harvest was one of art work, so here are two paintings completed over the difficult summer of 2020.

Spring 2020 just before Lockdown

Holy Trinity Startforth

Church yards are such melancholy places, full of reminders of our mortality but in the midst of this is a building that offers hope of resurrection, hope of life. An oxymoron that is the constant tension of human existence. We above all creatures know we are going to die, yet in the face of this knowledge we have to find a way of living. Hope is how we do it. In the tale of Pandora Hesiodos explains that the last curse to escape from the jar was the worst of them all, it was hope. For without hope we would all just give up and die, but with it he though we extended our suffering. When ever the option for nihilistic pessimism raises its ugly head, I remember hope is the only solution. 

Humanities journey has been a constant battle against nihilistic forces, and our only weapon has always been hope. This year we have celebrated a famous victory against fascism of the most vicious and repugnant sort. We have recently remembered young men who flew in the Battle of Britain, young men who against all odds fought in the hope of a victory many of them did not live to see. This year we have fought our own battle against a very different foe. An unseen, non sentient organism that is highly infectious and kills. the contrast between the two have not been lost on anyone. famous words come to mind and might have a lot to say to us if we chose to hear them:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch on incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. We had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

How many epochs have come and gone since Dickens wrote those words? Authorities continue to make superlative comparisons between them for whatever agender they support. My point is in quoting this wonderful list of anaphora is that in any crisis there are at least two options; despair or hope.  We can choose darkness and cling on to everything we know, repeating the old habits and routines, even if we know we may put some lives in danger. Alternatively we can choose light, choose change, even if it involves a degree of self sacrifice. We can choose to hope that we will win this battle and come back together as humans were meant to be, talking face to face, hugging, laughing, singing, gathering and mingling.  If we lose sight of this hope, if we make this a 'winter of despair' we risk having less of us around than there should be when we finally do see the end of this virous. This has been a strange time, it has been unusual, but it has not all been bad. There has been many great stories of encouragement, of support and of hope. After such a difficult but hopeful spring I truly hope we do not let this be a 'winter of despair'. We will never know how many people we are saving by trying to restrict the spread of this invisible silent killer, but if we don't even try then we will have a death count all to easy to work out. 

I leave you with another painting completed during lock down, it was created from an image of an unshadowed spring when pandemics seemed a world away. It is of late spring in Brusselton wood 2019. This historic place has antient trees, ancient pathways, and can provide the peace we sometimes need in order to feed our souls to strengthen our hope, to fight on, to love, to protect, and to choose light over darkness every time. 

Brusselton wood 2019 The Blue Flood



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