I decided that my vague notion of going to see Ian Phillips' exhibition of linocuts at the MOMA gallery in Machynlleth should become a reality. It was foolish because it was a long way and was going to take a long time (trains were an option, but a lengthier one and with umpteen changes). It was foolish, too, because in May he will be putting on an exhibition with Laura Boswell at the RK Burt gallery in London, to which I already had and still have every intention of going, and where I imagine a broadly similar body of work might be on show. I feel it might also have been foolish not to pay enough attention to the forecast and thus not realise that Wales (oh, and England) would throw all sorts of weather at me on the way out - hail, sleet, rain, proto-snow (you know, those tiny little snowball things) - causing me to wonder briefly whether I might not be making the return trip the same day! In the end, it was all bluster - it threatened but luckily didn't really deliver. In fact a return trip lit by the low sun behind me more than made up for all that weather.
The trip out was not great. There was, as I might have mentioned, the weather. Concentrating on that led me to make minor navigational errors which added to the time the journey took - as did some extremely cautious drivers (I realise it's not a crime) and an extensive rolling programme of traffic lights for verge-tidying, wall-building, roadworks and the like. And all the while, that niggling awareness that the return trip would probably take as long and that this hadn't been my cleverest idea.
I knew that the exhibition would include prints produced by the collaborative group Pine Feroda, This comprises 5 artists, two of whom are Meryl Chesterman (who has an utterly amazing way with water) and Ian Phillips. The collaborative prints did not disappoint! A room so light did not lend itself to good photos, but here are some odds and ends. The image on the left is a small section of a Pine Feroda print, while the rest show a variety of Phillips' mark-making.
As for the journey home, well I was drenched, soaked, drowned in mad, intense colour. It was overwhelming - exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. I would turn a corner and be confronted with a sweep of mountain in old gold and dark blood red on one side, slate blue and burgundy on the other; around another corner, a hill in dusty shades of bramble stain, with a stretch of land in front of it painted in buttercup yellow and burnt orange; one more corner and the same hill was set against brilliantly lit apple green instead. Everywhere there were winter trees in all the shades of green, as well as ghost white, rusty orange, cherry red and a most improbable pink. Not blossom but the purpley branches of silver birch, catching the light just so. It was a sort of miserable relief to reach duller scenery but much safer for driving. It brings home, though, how much drop-dead gorgeous landscape depends on the perfect lighting system.
And yes the traffic homewards was bad, and yes it all took forever, but it was so so worth it. Though I didn't do it, I felt quite equal to the prospect of another foolish trip today.