A Hole in the Hedge

habitat pile

‘the twisted gorse on the cliff edge, twigs, like snakes, lying on the path, the bare rock, worn and showing though the path, heath hits, gorse burnt and blackened, the high overhanging hedges by the steep roads, which pinch the setting sun, mantling clouds, and the thunder, the deep green valleys and the rounded hills – and the whole structure simple and complex.’

Graham Sutherland,
Notes by the Artist, Tate Gallery, March 1953

On a walk alongside the hedge banks near the Pembrokeshire coast, Graham Sutherland came across a gap in the hedge that particularly appealed to him.

‘I may have noticed a certain juxtaposition of forms at the side of a road, but on passing the same place next time, I might look for them in vain. It was only at the original moment of seeing that they had significance for me.’

‘If at first I attempted to make pictures here on the spot,’ he recalled, ‘I soon gave this up . . . I found that I could express what I felt only by paraphrasing what I saw.’

robin in the holly3.30 p.m., 7ºC, 45ºF; For my hole in the hedge, on a showery afternoon, I go to the trouble of setting up my pop-up tent at the end of the garden. A robin hops into the hedge seven feet away from my and eyes me suspiciously. Perhaps because I’m so used to watching birds through the double-glazing of the patio doors, its colour seems more vivid at close range.

pheasantAlso eyeing me suspiciously is the cock pheasant who strolls through the meadow, pauses at the hole in the hedge and decides that he’ll give me a wide berth.

Link: Paintings and Drawings by Graham Sutherland, Tate Gallery. In his statement, I wonder what Sutherland meant by ‘heath hits’. Perhaps a typo. In the context, I assumed that ‘steep rods’ should have read ‘steep roads’.

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