Dark Wood.

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“There is a spinney in the corner of a field near my studio in Northamptonshire where a tree stands which has an eerie strange quality. It’s large branches like arms reach out, ivy has been growing up the side of this tree for a long while and the roots cling and twist up the trunk giving it the added dimension of growth and unity. Just before the sun sets, the light is tremendous and bursts forth silhouetting the surroundings.

On the left of the painting you can see through the tangled branches St. Brington Church on the horizon. The foreground underwent many changes, the surface is very textured, creating marks which are hidden by dark glazes.

Works by Samuel Palmer, Edward Burne-Jones and Claude Lorraine echo the sentiments depicted here. Claude represented the sun letting it’s light shine straight out of the picture, dramatically opposing it to trees where the light enhanced their qualities.

When finished, I came accross a poem by Elizabeth Siddal, model for the Pre-Raphaelite painters, the last line of which was ‘in that dark wood’ and there was my title.” – Martin Taylor


O silent wood, I enter thee

With a heart so full of misery

For all the voices from the trees

And ferns that cling about my knees

In thy darkest shadow let me sit

When the grey owls about thee flit

There will I ask of thee a boon

That I might not faint or die or swoon

Gazing through the gloom like one

Whose life and hopes are almost done

Frozen like a thing of stone

I sit in thy shadow but not alone

Can God bring back the day when we two stood

Beneath the clinging trees in that dark wood.


Silent Wood by Elizabeth Siddal


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