Artist’s paintings of poppies supply a visual diary of the pandemic | Art

On one level they are hundreds of joyful, spirit-lifting paintings of poppies. But for the artist Brian Clarke they are also a sort of diary of the pandemic – the highs, the lows, the reduction and the hope.

Clarke is very best identified for his do the job with architectural stained glass, but he also paints, and in excess of the previous calendar year, by means of the lockdowns, he has been obsessively painting poppies.

Much more than 500 of the watercolour paintings have long gone on display at the Berkeley Sq. galleries of the London auction residence Phillips.

Noticed collectively, they stand for a form of pandemic journal. “It wasn’t a conscious detail of seeking to illustrate what’s going on,” reported Clarke. “It just happens for the reason that you are just there, you’re donning your mask, you are isolating, you are not seeing the men and women you want to see.”

Brian Clarke has dedicated his collection of poppy watercolours to his late good friend Linda McCartney. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Some will work have heaps of poppies clustered collectively, maybe expressing a hope that if we are together, we are more powerful. Other poppies droop, sag and decay. Others stand proudly by on their own.

At the very least 4 performs element the disposable masks that have been utilised in the early times of the pandemic. “I assumed I’d performed 20 or 30 of them to be trustworthy.”

Clarke said he experienced been portray the poppies night and day appropriate the way by way of the pandemic. “When you are doing work and it is going well, you really don’t want to get out of the h2o you’re swimming in. I’d wake up and paint them and then I’d go to mattress irritated that snooze was interrupting what I desired to be executing. That carried on for a calendar year, on and off.”

At 1 stage, every little thing about the pandemic received on prime of him and he commenced drawing skulls and abstract patterns for stained glass, but he shortly went back. “I could not keep away from the poppies.”

It is a screen “quietly dedicated” to his buddy the late Linda McCartney. Clarke reported McCartney would buy poppy seeds, the kind you put on bread, “and she would sling them out of the motor vehicle window. You’d arrive back again and see a line of poppies by the street. I cannot glance at a poppy without having imagining of Linda.”

Clarke explained poppies also reminded him of the stained glass he is greater recognized for performing with. “The petals are so slim that the mild shines ideal by way of them so by natural means.

“It just will take the smallest minimal blow on a poppy and the petals dance all more than the spot.”

  • Brian Clarke’s collection of paintings, titled Vespers, will be on view till 10 September and on sale at www.leviathan.heni.com from 1 September.

Mary E. Alvarez

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