The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Country House (Ty Uchaf, Llanofer) by Ivor Powell

29. Country House (Ty Uchaf, Llanofer)

24.5 x 29.5cm. Daler Board with new frame

NLW(PG 5883)

The title, written on the reverse in Ivor's hand, is simply Country House. This vagueness can only be accounted for by the fact that it was to be exhibited in the English Midlands where, he must have thought, specific reference to Llanofer would have meant nothing. Ty Uchaf, once the dower house when Benjamin Hall's neo-Elizabethan mansion, Llys, was still standing, is now the surviving part of the Llanofer of Augusta Hall's time. The old white house has a late 18th Century addition, the elegance of which shows that Lady Llanofer's parents were not only wealthy but people of good taste. Since Ivor had not seen this house for many years, he could not rely on strong impressions from recent experience to support him. Through having been a gardener on the estate, he knew the features of the house well enough, but being without these impressions seems to have made him unusually dependent on a postcard of the house, which he possessed. Tracing lines are clearly visible on the photograph (the only time he was known to do this), but though the image he made of it shows evidence of the use of the tracing (the house sits awkwardly in the composition), his departures from the actual appearance of the building show that, as an artist, he was still not in the business of the mere copying of appearances. The handsome columned portico and doorway, one of the most striking features of the house, he treated as a large window. The blind arches around the ground floor windows each side of the door he omitted, and there is no weather protection over the door to the old house. Evidently, he did not want to show Llanofer in any precise detail. It is the setting of the house which seemed to engage him more. The flower beds he showed he probably shared in planting and tending, and the carefully painted Welsh black cattle, kept on the home farm in Lord Treowen's time, confirm the view that this painting formed a deliberate exploration of his own past and, of course, of Winifred's. This was a recollection of how things were when they first met there.

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