The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Survivors will be Prosecuted by Ivor Powell

9. Survivors will be Prosecuted

29.5 x 22cm. Wooden board with new frame

NLW(PG 5901)

This, Ivor's most comic composition (built around an actual warning notice which had caught his attention), gave expression to an aspect of his personality which was so prominent in the eyes of those who experienced his rich sense of humour that it is surprising that this is the only surviving painting on this particular theme. His character involved a fine balance between a stern sense of rectitude and an irrepressible humour which sought to expose and puncture what was absurd in the good order that he worked to protect. He saw how the defence of orderliness could so easily become comic. Though, in retirement, he must have felt liberated to realise his comic vision, in his days as a policeman his anarchic sense of fun had always been near the surface. It is likely that this painting, in which he returned to the method he used, much earlier in his life, to create drawings to amuse his sons, was his first attempt, in acrylic, at including figures in a composition. Using an old skill would have given him the confidence to include figures in this and later landscapes. Having frequently practised this subject, with many variations, he would have had few inhibitions about painting it. With a cartoonist's sense for a need for economy, in this piece of theatre, all his actors are performing necessary roles. Even the passive cows witnessing the spectacle are added for more than aesthetic reasons for, if we view this painting more carefully, we can read a more serious allegory behind the fun. The powerful and indiscriminate rage of the bull makes ridiculous the frantic efforts of those fleeing the field. Subjected to such terror for a mere basket of apples, these young thieves are made to appear victims as well as offenders. Now no longer 'young and easy under the apple boughs', they become figures with whom we can all identify. Making a success of this painting must have encouraged him to think of his art as more than a leisure activity, for in this composition he is reflecting on the whole of his experience, from childhood exploits to the enforcement of the law as an adult. His art was becoming, not just about his holidays, but his life.

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