Tuesday 19 February 2013

Landscapes - Not just for escaping

Landscapes are not just for escaping, they can also be seen as a form of identity as well as inspiring and educating.

Landscapes are living, breathing areas which can reflect our own personalities or emotions. For example, the clouds are the landscapes thoughts, the body is the terrain itself and the rivers which often course through them are their lifeblood.

If we take the first one, Clouds are like human thoughts; it is easy to see why this is:

Study of Clouds (1821)
Study of Cumulus Clouds (1822)

John Constable’s work echoes that of the poet William Wordsworth’s poem, ‘Daffodils’. In particular the well known line; ‘I wandered as lonely as a cloud...’ The idea being that clouds are like the human mind, as our thoughts as well pass across, pause, reveal themselves and vanish. They can also show 'emotions', the first image of clouds are angry, hurried and frenzy. Whereas with the second image, the clouds are calmer and almost peaceful.

Landscapes are not just living, breathing areas; they are also beautiful, powerful, spiritual and full of mystery. In Wordsworth's poem ‘Ascent of Snowdon’, he talks about how the mountain is a holy place and by climbing it, you gaze down on the landscape as God might see it:

The perfect image of a mighty mind,

Of one that feeds upon infinity,

That is exalted by an under-prescence,

The sense of God, or whatsoe’er is dim,

Or vast in it’s own being....

David Cox’s image, ‘Mountain Heights, Cader Idris, c.1830’ is a perfect example of how poetry and paintings can be put together to create a romantic view of the landscape. The parting clouds over the mountains give the sense of mystery as they are not fully revealed as well as power as the sharp rocks protrude through them.


Notes, Quote and Images from: William Wordsworth and the Age of English Romanticism; Jonathan Wordsworth, Michael C.Jaye, and Robert Woof