Push The Sky Away

Push The Sky Away - Rik Rawling 2016

A new painting. See it’s progress here. It was inspired by two text pieces, the first this passage from John Burnside second memoir Waking Up In Toytown:

Meanwhile, I carried around a perfect whiteness, alike some still, cold object at the back of my mind. Not the whiteness of a northern winter, or the white of an apple blossom, not even the white of a new linen on a hospital bed – though that does come close. Not Chinese white, or lake white. Not snow, or ice, or cloud, or fog. No: this was the white of a new beginning that hadn’t happened, a clean slate that had stayed clean, the white of hiatus, the white of entropy. I could go through the days and it was there, silent, motionless, inactive; then, in the evening, if I worked hard, I could keep it at bay, a vast space on the horizon that I couldn’t forget but could still evade for hours at a time. At night, though, I dreamed it, and in those dreams, it revealed what it had always contained – which was the impossible stasis of grief. And yet, even though it should have been terrible, even though it should have felt like the brink of some limbo from which even the most stolid mind might never return, I couldn’t imagine any other place that I wanted to be and, in the morning, I woke with a sense of loss, because that dream whiteness had been taken from me and put away in the back of my mind, while I negotiated, not with grief itself, but with the world that sometimes interrupted it.

The other inspiration was W. B. Yeats’ poem The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The title could have been almost any line from the poem, but instead I went with the mp3 that was playing when I made what I decided had to be the final brush stroke. The painting is for sale. Email me if you’d like to buy it.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

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