The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Three Potted Plants by Ivor Powell

35. Three Potted Plants

cm. Owner's frame

Private Collection

These three plants were on a shelf in the conservatory. The woodwork was painted in Wedgwood blue, one of his wife's favourite colours, and Ivor let it flow through the whole painting. The window behind the plants was treated as though it, too, was a painted surface, and what could be seen through the glass has been completely excluded. He was then able to work at the gentlest and most sensitive of relationships between his dominant blues and the reds and greens. Starting his flower painting quite late in his development might be explained by the decline in his wife's health. Less able to tend the flowers in the garden, she may have concentrated her attention on the potted plants, and painting them would have been a way of sharing experience with her and showing affection for her. Flowers were very much Winifred's business, and her knowledge of them at least equalled Ivor's. It was a joke in the family that his strength was best reserved for the vegetable patch, where it could be put to productive use. Flowers needed a gentler touch and that was hers. This painting, one of a number of flower studies composed over the last years of Winifred's life, was for and about her. Though he never attempted portraits, these studies were, in a sense, portraits of her. That these flower paintings had a special meaning for him is evident in the way he continued to produce them even after her death. It was as though she lived on in the plants she had tended. What were initially vehicles for his tenderness became a means to remember her.

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