Tag Archives: Dylan Thomas

St Ives in the 1950s as portrayed by Hyman Segal

This uniquely illustrated pamphlet of around 20 pages offers a brilliant summary of life in St Ives just after the War. The town’s Silver Age it might be termed. This fascinating time period is manifest in the vivid sketches by the well-known St Ives artist, Hyman Segal. https://cornwallartists.org/cornwall-artists/hyman-segal   

Segal is probably best remembered for his African paintings as well as for his skill in portraying cats with sweeping economical lines. A Daily Mirror photographic  frontispiece shows him, an Art Therapist at West Cornwall Hospital, helping the recovery of a young lad at Tehidy Sanatorium in Camborne. This classic photograph by Bela Zola indicates the pride in the newly created NHS.{Zola was a leading photographer who recorded later the Aberfan Disaster and the profumo Affair among other renowned assignments.) https://www.worldpressphoto.org/collection/photo/1956/28663/1/1956-Bela-Zola-GN1-(1)

The first sketch in the pamphlet is of our celebrated Town Crier, Abraham Curnow -here just 54 years old. This is accompanied by a sketch of his Father-in-Law, Ernest James Stevens, popularly known as “Jimmy Limpets”. This drawing with others by Segal now hangs in the Sloop Inn.

On the following page is an image of Thomas Tonkin Prynne who had been the manager of Lanham’s picture framing business which in previous years  supplied the Royal Academy and other galleries with canvases by inter alia , Julius Olsen, Louis Grier and Moffat Linder. In addition to running an efficient business, he worked for 16 years as a member of the volunteer fire brigade, had a blue Persian cat and loved fishing.

 

There is also a magnificent sketch of Alistair St Clair Harrison, like Churchill, an old Harovian who had been a fighter pilot during the Second World War. It was Harrison who broadcst for the BBC about the rescue of HMS Wave in September 1952 and also about his interest in Antartic whaling. It was with his Norwegian wife that he established “The Gay Viking”;almost as famous for its colourful clientele as its innovative continental cuisine. ( Gay Viking was incidentally one of eight vessels that were ordered by the Turkish Navy, but were requisitioned by the Royal Navy to serve with Coastal Forces during the Second World War)

Alistair St Clair Harrison by Hyman Segal

Frank Edward Endell Mitchell, appropriately portrayed with bow-tie, fashionable in the 1950s, was known as “Micheal” and was the tenant of the Castle Inn. His friendship with Dylan Thomas must have been firmly established in the bohemian atmosphere of the bar there, then opposite Lanham’s and the Scala Cinema (presently Boots). Mitchell who was the brother, I believe of the eminent sculptor, Denis Mitchell, offered the Castle lounge for the display of art works and in his spare time, he himself did pastels and was occupied in breeding Boxer dogs.

The donation of this little pamphlet to the Morrab Archive offers members the opportunity to recreate for themselves the ambience of the Fifties through “The Familiar Faces of  St Ives”.

 

 

 

 

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Under the influence of both Louis MacNeice and Dylan Thomas

It is always a pleasure to discover a new poet as I did when I came across the following book locally, which I strongly recommend for its style and elegance ;-

The spirits have dispersed, the woods
faded to grey from midnight blue
leaving a powdery residue,
night music fainter, frivolous gods
withdrawing, cries of yin and yang,
discords of the bionic young;
cobweb and insects, hares and deer,
wild strawberries and eglantine,
dawn silence of the biosphere,
amid the branches a torn wing
— what is this enchanted place?

From The Dream Play
By Derek Mahon

More may be found at www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/poems/detail/92168

Image result for derek mahon

 

The Hidden Landscape

The purpose of this book is to explore the connection between the landscape and the geology underlying it, which in one of many vivid similes Fortey  compares, the surface personality with the workings of the unconscious mind beneath. He starts by describing a journey he once made from Paddington Station to Haverford West, a market town in Pembrokeshire and with it a passage back into the plutonic depths of geological aeons, indicated by the large 60cm monster trilobites that have been found in the Cambrian rocks near St David’s. Fortey describes the magnificence of the Cathedral constructed from the local purple sandstone and mottled with moisture loving lichens. He contrasts this with the anonymous character of a nearby brightly coloured service station, anonymous and synthetic, an invader cheaply built and out of context.

Fortey’s tour begins with the ancient Lewisian Gneiss of theNorth-WestHighlandsand the formation in their complex metamorphic variety. He explains how these were penetrated by dark dykes of igneous Scourie, the action of glaciers and how in places the Gneiss has been overlaid by the local mountains which are masses of sediment. These latter layers are called Torridonian. They are some 1000 million years old and contain single-celled algae. Whilst describing the full complexity of this ancient scene, Fortey provides a useful glossary of key The Hidden Landscape by Richard Forteydefinitions which reassure the reader wanting to understand this full detail. He proceeds to explain the fundamental divide of theIapetusOcean. (Illustrated also in the accompanying photographs.) This once separated northern from southernBritainsome 500 million years ago, the closure of which created the magnificent Caledonian mountains.

The reader is swiftly conveyed through the Caledonian landscape which is economically characterised, ”This is where population density plummets, and where the Gaelic language lingers in patches. This is the country where metamorphism rules.” Crossing the MidlandValley, he is brought to the Southern Uplands- attract of land which sweeps across through the Irish Seato Down and Armagh. Here the rocks are dark sedimentary shales, paler grits and green mudstones. What makes the account engaging to the reader, is the digression into the fascinating history of geology where Fortey takes us back to the discontinuities in the rock, specifically at Siccar Point, which led to the discoveries of Hutton in the mid-Eighteenth Century of the processes of folding and overlaying with later Devonian sediments. We are shown with clarity how the early discoveries were made and the modern comprehension of geology as a subject derived. Fortey writes about the fascinating early episodes of making geology with the same skill as Roger Osborne in his excellent book, ‘’The Floating Egg’’

In the softer rocks and slates ofWales, the fossil trilobites are altered in shape in a manner which gives evidence of the deformations to which the rock has been subjected. In brief and characteristically diverting remarks, the connection between the geology of with Avalonia (Newfoundland),Canadaand theAppalachiansare mentioned. Additionally, Fortey notes that Cambria-Roman Wales, the Ordivicians, the tribes whom the Romans conquered and the barbarian Silures have all given there names to the internationally recognised geological divisions of the Lower Paleozoic. Fortey writes with poetic feeling for that land which also inspired Dylan Thomas to write:-

The heavenly music over the sand

Sounds with the grains as they hurry

Hiding the golden mountains and mansions

Of the grave, gay seaside land

‘’’The Hidden Landscape’’’ conducts the reader on an extensive tour that joins the primeval geology with the soil and the lie of the land as it now exists today. The flora, fauna, the occupations and lifestyle of recent generations are explored in detail. So in a later chapter the reader is introduced to the gentler morphology of the Weald. Even, the taste of the waters in Spa towns like Tunbridge Wells depends upon the sensitivity of human taste to very small amounts of iron salts. Water from ferruginous beds and the ions it contains gives it a medicinal taste- the reason the wells were established there in 1606. InKentthere are cretaceous chalks, sands and the blue Weald clay that forms the vale to the west of Romney Marsh.

This intriguing book finishes with a chapter encouraging respect for the visible landscape. ‘Texture is bequeathed by time’, Fortey urges attention to the local building materials that contribute to the individuality of vernacular architecture. He praises the use of these resources by traditional craftsmen. This beguiling book finishes with praises for the campaigns of Natural England, for protection of Sites of Scientific Interest and congratulates the hard working volunteers of Regionally Important Geological Sites, in their endeavours to preserve the variety nature has produced in the countryside over aeons. Well written and pleasingly presented this is a grand introduction to a popular subject.