The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Canal Scene by Ivor Powell

49. Canal Scene

68.8 x 69cm. Canvas with home-made frame

NLW(PG 5865)

This, one of two canal studies, is based on the Brecon to Newport Canal, which was within easy walking distance, between Ivor's home and the lower slope of Mynydd Maen. Fortunately, when he signed this painting, he added the year 1975. The curve of the canal, and the beautifully arched bridge, make it easy to locate this section of the waterway, though the bridge has since been replaced with one chosen for its load-bearing rather than aesthetic qualities. Though beautiful in many places, the canal was then neglected and overgrown. Ivor transformed it into a weed-free place for leisure, for pleasure boats and picnics. He was not looking back to some ideal time - this transport system was built for barges carrying industrial cargoes, not for pleasure boats - but to a more civilised future. The whole scene is alive with people at leisure. The barge, making swift and unimpeded progress, is wholly fictional since no vessel had even managed to reach this part of the canal for many years. The British flag proudly fluttering at the barge's bow makes the vessel even more of a phantom. Though his sense of humour is much in evidence in this painting, there is a touch of sadness too. While all seems well in his landscape, he also placed some of his sinister crows in the sky. Perhaps he wanted to show that, in his life at least, this scene would remain only a dream.

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