Monday, 24 September 2018

The Joy and Remembrance of Buttercups



Having visited St Chad's with our artists' group and curator, I turned my thoughts to making new artwork. I had been asked to reference the poet Wilfred Owen and possibly make an artist's book.  Wilfred Owen is an iconic poet and although I have used poetry in my artwork before knew I had to make work that would do him justice.

I started reading 'Wilfred Owen, A New Biography' by Dominic Hibberd and immersed myself in the first few chapters about Wilfred's childhood.  He was born in Oswestry, not far from me and moved to Shrewsbury, via Birkenhead when his father Tom became assistant or Chief Clerk to the Superintendent of the Joint Railway Supervisor at Shrewsbury Station.   

Wilfred delighted in the Shropshire countryside around Shrewsbury, cycling up to Wroxeter Roman City where he spent time digging there and 'brooding' over the archaeological finds in the museum.  He also adventured out to nearby Haughmond Hill taking the ferry, that existed then, from Underdale Road in Shrewsbury to Uffington near Haughmond Hill.

Around this time (1909) Wilfred was looking at plants, rocks and fossils in the spirit of John Ruskin the art critic, art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, as well as a  prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He was 'seeking to understand his environment as evidence of a benevolent, divinely ordered universe'. 

In 1918 Wilfred wrote 'Spring Offensive' which contains the lines:
'Hour after hour they ponder the warm field—
And the far valley behind, where the buttercups
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up,'

Wilfred's brother Harold remembers the family walking home through the meadows near
Uffington and Haughmond Hill and their 'shoes and stockings flushed with gold'.

Wilfred may have referenced these times in his poem.  As a teenager in 1909 he did think
of Haughmond and the museum at Wroxeter (dreaming of more exciting times in the
fourth century Roman city)  as 'my only consolation' from a peaceful, conventional life in
Shrewsbury.

Thus began my exploration of buttercups, these small beauties bring joy and hope as as the weather starts turning warmer and summer returns.

















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