posted Saturday, 10 March 2007
A landscape by Constable I could take for granted.
A seascape by Turner, too.
A single painting by both artists – a collaboration – would bear a cathedral in full marine rigging, as it rose between banks or waves of wild flowers or flows or saltings or maltings or tiles or ridge tides.
Torn between truth and trust in truth.
I dreamed this hybrid plant into existence. Plant and machinery of dream deliberately planted within a linear flow of impossible or clandestine art. A painting on the wall that I could reach out to touch – if the gallery-guard of dreams would allow me to get close enough to its reality. Constable had never collaborated with Turner except along this edge of dream and non-dream. Turner turned to me with a vicious face, waking me to his anger at being dreamed into a passably believable collaboration policed only by a sense of nonsense…
A joint effort he had never wanted to share.
So, he showed me his Fighting Temeraire.
He showed me, too, his bent shape
At the easel of a still-wet seascape –
The distance being widely vast,
The remains of the ship a simple mast
Upon a site of fleeing sea-bed
Rising through its own hardened head
Into runnelled landscaping rains
Pierced by turning spires and drenched hay-wains.
I felt the two artists within me arm-wrestle to win the canvas of vision upon which their elbows rested…
Until one was sunk
And the other buried
Below the haltings of seascaped land,
Leaving each just one brushless hand.