The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Patrisio Church by Ivor Powell

14. Patrisio Church

24 x 32cm. Daler Board with a re-used glazed frame

NLW(PG 5873)

This composition shows how he had decided that another option for the development of his art lay in creating pictures in which the historic buildings of his home area could feature. He had a great love for them and, knowing their age and vulnerability, he may have wanted, not only to celebrate their particular beauty, but to be, in some sense, their chronicler. This isolated church, which clings to the hillside in the valley of the Grwyne Fawr, is best known for its wonderfully carved 15th Century screen, with vines growing from the mouths of wyverns or dragons, as sources of life rather than of evil or danger. Close to Pandy, Ivor would have known it from childhood. In making this picture, he probably gathered information from an uncoloured postcard which he had, though the view of the church he presents is not the one his postcard showed him nor could he have obtained it by making drawings in situ, since the ground falls away steeply from the building. By adopting a viewpoint from an imagined slightly elevated position, he gives the church an altogether more secure setting and makes it a more welcoming haven. How deliberately he did this is particularly evident in his treatment of the outbuilding. Perhaps it was his appreciation of the intricate craftsmanship of the screen inside which helped convince him that this church should be formed in a reassuring rather than austere image. With no people, animals or birds included, this is a narrative about the building and not the community which uses it. He concentrates our attention on the relationships between the simple forms of the gravestones, walls, roof, windows and doors and their surrounding landscape, offering us so many ways of reading them. Though an apparently simple composition, therefore, it repays long and concentrated viewing.

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