The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

St. Mary

55. St. Mary's Church, Abergavenny

71 x 71cm. Canvas with home-made frame

NLW(PG 5864)

The year 1978 fortunately appears with Ivor's signature and enables us to be precise in dating what otherwise would have been a difficult painting to locate in his development. Though he knew this church from his youth and it could, therefore, have formed part of his recollections of the past, there are features of the painting which suggest it was also intended to contribute to his presentation of how life should be. In taking care to show the foreground as a social space, he confirmed that he wanted to give prominence to the church's social function. The flag displayed on its tower not only added colour to his composition but helped locate this painting in the period in which he painted it rather than in his past. As an old priory converted to serve the parish, the resulting structure forms a complex challenge for the artist who wishes to represent it. Ivor's attempt at accuracy was not as wayward as it might seem. The uneven end to the south transept results from the priory buildings having once extended beyond this. Also, the need to create space for the tombs of powerful patrons, rather than a lapse of concentration on Ivor's part, explains the unusual roof geometry of the Herbert Chapel, which extends east out of the transept and runs parallel with the chancel.

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