A flowering world

This is Iris, Tindle Tarn by Winifred Nicholson - a painting of her native Cumbria.

It exhibits her essential qualities - an extraordinary feel for colour, here in shading delicacy, for flowers, especially domestically disporting on a window sill; and, an opening out into encompassing nature and light.

The world is both domestic and wild and both are held in a transcending yet immanent order. The world is looked upon, and it is found to be good, an expression of a divine creativity.

It is a creativity in which we participate when we 'decreate' ourselves (to quote Simone Weil), stand ourselves down, and allow the empty space we make way for to be suffused with a seeing that is, paradoxically, most deeply ours and utterly 'objective' - a radiance of things in themselves.

I have always treasured her work - both seen domestically, hanging on the walls of friends who knew her and were her friend, and in art galleries.

I remember her retrospective at the Tate (and another is long overdue) vividly. It is one of my most memorable artistic encounters. I went back over and over, singling out particular paintings for the closest attention, and remembering specific works with a lucidity that astonishes.

It is the simplicity and grace communicated that I love.


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