Land Marks, ©John O’Grady 2015
Oil on deep edged canvas 12″ x 12″ x 1.75″ (Available)
It does not require framing and is ready to hang.
‘Great things are done when men and mountains meet; this is not done by jostling in the street.’
The visionary poems of William Blake often appear enigmatic. I am sure this quote on first reading alludes to the physical task and rewards of climbing a mountain or the insights that could be gleaned from communing with such a sentinel looming in the distance as opposed to the aimless ‘jostling in the street’.
I know that he was well aware of the transfer of land from the public to the few and how Enclosure Acts (please scroll down to William Blake’s ‘Charter’d’ London on the link) brought this about in the 18th century.
My own reading is that he saw these ‘sentinels’ as just that, guardians of the land that watch man’s petty drawing of straight lines on a map. They are temporal. This boundary or that frontier will all turn to dust in the end while the mountain will still be there, immutable and impassive. The painting ‘The Fallow Field’ explores the same theme.
Perhaps, as Blake says, the ‘great things are done’ when we understand our relationship to the mountain. The climbing of it can also be seen as a metaphor for the evolution of a spiritual relationship with the land.
This painting of the wide open expanse of bogland and mountains in the west of Ireland came to my mind when I read the Blake quote. Initially, it had no clear footprint of man upon the land but then, I remembered the straight lines of fences that ran across the bog.
Even this bleak and beautiful landscape has the stamp of ownership however temporary it may be.
I would love to hear what you think.