Phantom Cities

Colin Blundell at the Bear Steps Gallery, Shrewsbury Nov/Dec 2006

 
Composer, poet, novelist, Enneagram teacher, dabbler, ancient motorbike freak, haiku-writer, Colin Blundell, influenced by the ineffable Paul Klee, has been obsessed for years by a vision of a Magic City of the Mind. One of his depictions was purchased by a psychotherapist for her waiting room—she said it would put her patients’ minds into a restful state.
 
   
 

"On my motorbike travels I do watercolours in my own version of the Japanese style sumi-e, painted very quickly as a haiku is written but a major preoccupation for thirty years has been the depicting of a ‘City of the Mind’.

I suppose that the idea started back in the 1940’s when I first stared at the heap of houses either side of the line as the train arrives at Brighton. But in my youth I entertained the fond illusion that cities were in reality magical—the very words that named them seemed so: Gloucester, Salisbury, Shrewsbury, Norwich, London, Truro, Carlisle, Penzance... But, although I was always seeking the Perfect Magical City, arriving at cities like these on my bicycle, I was without exception so disappointed to find that I had to pass through dingy sprawling suburbs, warehouses, scrapyards before, sometimes, coming to a cathedral close with its ring of long- settled fine houses, the hub and purpose of the original city.

So, influenced by the drawings in Rupert Bear Annuals, avid collector of the serial cartoons in the Daily Express, I invented my own perfect city set in an ideal landscape complete with hills folded on one another and glimpses of the sea. In this city there are no cars, no lorries, no railway lines, no ring roads (nothing to demand a by-pass), no business parks, no high-rise office-blocks, no chemical factories, no out of town shopping centres, no Arndales. Nothing of the Capitalist Blight that surrounds all modern cities. It is a place where human beings may live comfortably and without pressure. A place where the human spirit is nurtured for its own sake. The pace of life is very slow in the Magic City. It is proof against the sound of ‘ancestral voices prophesying war’...

To get a painting from this, I start by walking the streets and breathing the fresh air that comes from the hills and the sea. There are always arches and colonnades; there are various official viewpoints.

There are now so many old faded paintings and the City has become so familiar that I have only to take parts of them variously worked on to make a collage of new views. Recently the City has become rather colourful.

Nowadays I skirt round cities on my motorbike, carrying the vision of the perfect Magical City in my mind as I seek hills & sea to store them away before they too become blighted."

Some more examples of Colin's paintings :

 
 


All the aspects of a thing are real...


He now paused...


 
 

Magic City


If only one had not ...

 
 

Shocked by the startling strangeness of the world ...


The morning unfurls itself ...

 

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