“I wake thick dust as chapel-sunlight pales
and into silence lift my stubborn breath.
Here’s a courtier touched by wanton Death:
look how Thin-Bones jigs along the aisle,
fingers teasing up a dusky rose.
From Death and the Gallant by Chris Jones
Two men move from church to church in a remote valley looking for the remnants of Catholic wall art to destroy. Chris Jones’s poem Death and the Gallant, which has been given a contemporary visual interpretation by the artist Paul Evans, explores iconoclasm in seventeenth century English culture. The poem and paintings focus on the relationship between Brown, an old man, and the narrator as they travel towards a final reckoning.
The uncomfortable relationship between art that appeals to the sensuous eye (‘ocular art’) and art of a purer conceptual nature has a long history in culture; it is a history of creation, reaction and destruction. We can look back to the reformation or we can use an example from relatively recent times: when Robert Rauschenberg purchased a drawing by the abstract expressionist Willem De Kooning, erased it and exhibited it as ‘Erased De Kooning’. The death of painting has often been fanfared by the avant-garde and one might even see the white cube of the gallery as a direct descendent from the protestant chapel; those whitewashed walls signifying purity of thought and a cleansing of dubious idolotry, sensuousness and colour.
Paul Evans 2011
This presentation will offer a full reading of the poem by Chris and a discussion of how reflections on the English Reformation have affected the collaboration between poet and artist.
Death and the Gallant will appear in the Longbarrow Press anthology The Footing (due spring 2011).
Chris Jones received an Eric Gregory Award for his poetry in 1996. He currently teaches creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University.
Paul Evans is a contemporary artist based in Sheffield. He has won a number of prestigious awards and his work has been exhibited throughout the UK, in Tokyo, and in New York.
Death and the Gallant is supported by Longbarrow Press www.longbarrowpress.com”