The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Ironbridge by Ivor Powell

53. Ironbridge

9.9 x 68.6cm. Daler Board with new frame

NLW(PG 5867)

A date 'c. 1978' appears on the reverse, though perhaps not in Ivor's hand. If this was painted as late as 1978, it was not composed in response to his first visits to Ironbridge, which were made between 1970 and 1973. In favour of a later date are the crows in the sky, and perhaps this painting was the last in the crow series of the 70s, composed in c. 1976. If he had wanted to paint the bridge for its own striking beauty and interest, he would probably have done so earlier, in the way he had produced the even more intricate Little Moreton Hall. That it was painted at this later date suggests that he had some other purpose in doing so, and the presence of the crows surely confirms this. His interest seems to have been in the reflections, especially, and not in the structure of the ironwork of the bridge, which he could have shown much more accurately if he had wanted to. A high and apparently fragile bridge, which one has to use to cross the river, is a potent symbol of life itself, but the figures we see on their journey are also reflected in the river. There is, as it were, both a real and an unreal process going on here. The reflected world on the river's surface does all that the real world does above it, but without substance, without experienced pleasure or pain. While those who experience good fortune or pleasure may wonder whether such things are really happening to them, so do those who suffer grief and pain. While the beauty of the river landscape might encourage viewers to reflect on the former, the presence of the crows should also lead to reflections on the latter and Ivor may have wanted them to see the painting in both these ways.

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