The painting I’ve just taken out of The Gallery, ‘Iken: a place for reflection’ (see immediately previous blog), is another one which essentially tells of a relationship between land and sea; in this case, visual, with the pun on the titular ‘reflection’ drawing attention to the images of church tower and red roof in the water, and religious, in the sense that it was precisely liminal situations close to water like that of Iken church that early Christian missionaries sought out cf the double monastery of Jarrow-Monkwearmouth on the tidal waters of, respectively, the Rivers Tyne and the Wear in north-east England.
As I began painting in central southern France and London, artistic awareness of this interface was really only awakened when I started visiting Suffolk in the early years of the 21st century. I recall in particular being deeply impressed by my first visit to Covehithe church and the crumbling cliff face an ever-lessening distance to its east; I think that may lie behind an unpublished, unexhibited (and not very good), consciously Piperish painting of a roofless church on an estuary, with distinctly sinister-looking trees standing above the opposite cliffs. In the middle distance, a seemingly complete church stands too near the eroding cliff edge for comfort, and a projection faintly visible in the far distance might be Thorpeness or even Felixstowe. Overall, there is enough here to suggest that the inspiration for the painting was the Suffolk coast.