David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

19 May 2012

Knock-em Downs | Fred Williams: Infinite Horizons

For the sixth day, more letters to The Age about art matters in Melbourne. 

Today, Patrick McCaughey on Robert Nelson's review of Fred Williams: Infinite Horizons at the National Gallery of Victoria. We had our two bobs worth on this yesterday.

A truly gifted painter
AUSTRALIAN art criticism hit a new low with Robert Nelson's review (Arts, 8/5) of the Fred Williams retrospective, Infinite Horizons, at the National Gallery of Victoria. The mendacity of the tone epitomised in such phrases as ''pompous modernist landscapes'', seascapes that ''look like wine labels'', ''these dull spotty things'' and ''cack-handed'' strongly suggest that Nelson was out to crush a reputation rather than review an exhibition. It would appear he only understands landscapes with a photographic likeness to nature, or why else the absurd complaint that Williams' trees do not cast shadows? When he claims that Williams was ''not a natural painter'', we know we are in the hands of the ignorant. Williams was an innately gifted painter who saw and sensed the world in paint. He has left us with an astonishing record of landscapes from the coastal plains of Victoria to the Bass Strait Islands, the Glasshouse Mountains in Queensland and the Pilbara.
Patrick McCaughey, former National Gallery of Victoria director, New Haven, US

Knock-em Downs, circa 1890  (courtesy Theatre of the Actors of Regard)

click image to enlarge
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