One thing leads to another and with great kindness and generosity a wonderful book has come my way.
No claims to be an art expert but I do know what I like and this book is replete with it, cover to cover.
Somerset, The Paintings of John Caple with an introduction by Nell Leyshon, whose writing has been one of my most fortunate discoveries of the year.
John Caple's family have lived on and worked the land around the Mendips in Somerset for generations so his spirit must be imbued to the brim with the landscape and the folklore and it all spills over into his amazing work.
John already has an international audience so I'm lagging behind but quickly catching up, because when this book arrived today I was spellbound and have been ever since. The pictures and the essence of the book echoing around my mind constantly until in the end I had to share it.
With his concentrated colour palette,
'cadmium deep red;sap green;ivory black; titanium white'
John has somehow created the most colourful paintings, capturing the simple essence of rural life and lore. The white cottages, the brooding backdrops of hills and greying skies, the moon and trees featuring large on his landscapes. Each picture accompanied by a sparkling crystal of folk wisdom or tradition, often heard but rarely written down or illustrated.
Ash Tree Blessing a favourite, first find your baby then...
'For an Ash tree blessing you must find an ash tree in a secret place, split its trunk open and pull back the two sides: the young baby is then passed through this gap of exposed heartwood.Then perhaps the most important part: the split trunk is reunited and bound up.As the wood heals and joins, so the baby will grow strong and healthy.'
Nell Leyshon's introduction establishes the scene prosaically almost ethereally, as she sets out the artist's transformation through childhood towards an adulthood that empowers him to impart that which is inborn for others to share. John, an untrained artist sharing a fabulously untainted eye for what he knows and loves and the genuine-ness glimmers from every painting.They have that unique Shaker-like folk art simpilicity to them, yet look closely and there are hidden complexities and I think much quilt inspiration also lies therein.
There is a very special magic and solidity to this book and I don't think I will ever tire of looking at the pictures.
John Caple's work currently on exhibition, Sea and Hill and Wood at Contemporary Art, 38 Albemarle Street, London from December 5th - 21st.
I hadn't planned a trip to London before Christmas but...