The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Black Mountains Landscape by Ivor Powell

13. Black Mountains Landscape

117.5 x 122cm. Unframed hardboard

NLW(PG 6093)

This, the largest of Ivor's paintings, to which he gave no title, presents us with a range of his themes and interests in a composition which locates them in the region of the Black Mountains. Though he probably had no acquaintance with Chinese landscape painting, he adopted something of the same vertical perspective solution to the problem of how to present a range of narrative elements and visual relationships. His landscape is made more convincing by making the hill rise steeply to the mountain in the background. The artifice of adopting a high viewpoint seems natural since the scene could have been viewed from the other side of a valley in the steeply rising hills and narrow valleys of the Black Mountains. He could have arrived at his perspectival solution simply by looking rather than calculating. Only those who have visited Capel y Ffin will know that David Jones's views of the head of the Honddu valley do not exaggerate the dramatic slope of the hillside. The pony trekking centre there, and in the foreground of Ivor's painting, encourage us to see the Capel y Ffin area as the intended location of his composition. With the absence of the fixed viewpoint of geometrical perspective, it was possible for him to create a number of vignettes with equal importance in the whole composition. He may have thought that, in painting his Sheep Dog Trial, to complete the kind of narrative composition he wanted, he would have to work on a larger scale. Since he never attempted a painting of this size again, however, this composition is the only example we have, by his hand, in this expansive form. Having worked at such length on it, it was some time before he returned to the idea of using his art to celebrate a place and a whole way of life but, when he did so, this assignment prepared the ground for him. The following image is a watercolour summary of the original, obviously not by Ivor himself.

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