The west wall of all Saints Church
5 years, 10 months ago Posted in: Blog Comments Off on The west wall of all Saints Church

All Saints-work in progress

This painting carries on my fascination with the unusual stones and flints in the west wall of this church. If you go to the Blog entitled ‘Painting on Location in Maldon – All Saints Church’ you can read about my first version of this subject.

This picture is much larger than the previous version it measures 30” x 40”. The increase in size allows me to paint the stones in more detail. In this painting there is no foreground and no background and as the stones are quite detailed this creates the impression that there is space in front of them. In my pictures I often have the subject intruding into the space outside of the picture plane. Good examples of this would be my ‘Self portrait holding a lily’ and ‘a birds-eye view of Maldon High St’.

Whereas in my earlier picture the stones are painted entirely from life in this painting I’m using photographic references. I did consider booking into the room in the Blue Boar Hotel that overlooks this part of the wall, however the space in the room was not really suitable to set up a painting. Anyway I don’t have a problem with photographic material that has been shot by myself. Also having spent many hours observing the subject from life I feel that I have an intuitive understanding of what it is I’m trying to paint.

Which poses the question – why do I want to paint another picture of this wall? In answer to that I’m not sure that I know. It’s true I find the flints fascinating, observing them and stylizing the curious shapes has a Zen-like effect on my mood. Also there is something spooky about this weathered wall and as I observe it I see faces in the rocks looking back at me.

I suppose I like a challenge and this painting is probably going to be the last mega-detailed piece that I am likely to produce. Some people have already suggested that it looked good in its embryonic state. However that’s not enough for me. I think this picture would look good as a blow up wall effect or perhaps as wallpaper hung above the dado rail in a certain kind of room.

There is of course a mystery about the construction of this wall. It forms one side of an equilateral triangular tower that was built in the early part of the 13th century. No other church in England has a three-sided tower. Some think it represents the fundamental belief of the builders in the Holy Trinity, or perhaps the landscape dictated this design. But for me the real mystery is the nature of the materials. On no other church have I seen flints and blocks of masonry as large as these. Asides from that there is the apparently random arrangement of these stones. For example the blocks that form the window are asymmetrical. So one can assume that they weren’t set in place by a conventional mason. And this church was constructed at a time when the Normans were busy building their gothic cathedrals, compared to such buildings this wall looks like folk art. It is known that some of the materials were part of a previous monument and perhaps they had some special significance for the denizens of mediaeval Maldon.

The name Maldon derives from two Saxon words which translate as ‘cross on the hill’ and ‘meeting’. The word Maldon was first recorded as ‘Maeldun’ in an ancient Anglo Saxon chronicle dated 913. It’s highly likely that a Christian community existed in this area as far back as the 7th or 8th century and they built a cross that was later dismantled.


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