Wednesday, 28 August 2013

After the Festivity

Before the Fireworks finish off the month of Festivity and the Burghers of Edinburgh claim back their City, further down the East Coast, there will be sadness and, perhaps, celebration for a life of an artist whose work enjoyed a major retrospective exhibition on The Mound this year.

John Bellany was a maverick, a complex and extraordinary character for whom Life and Art were inextricably bound. I cannot start to describe how moving I find his paintings and his life-story. As a writer, I can only offer my poetic reaction to the portrait of his father, before which I have spent many hours contemplating the intensity of this expression of deep humanity.

This poem takes the form of the Lord's Prayer, and weaves it into a eulogy, not only for the artist's father, but also for all fathers, indeed, all parents. And, for that matter, all humanity, since we are all recipients of Art's legacy. In the case of John Bellany, we are truly gifted.

His Father


meditating upon John Bellany’s portrait of his father at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art


My Father, who is now in Heaven,

how we hallowed your name.

Your kingdom was the seas, but you

drifted into dry dock.  Earthed, your

cigarette incense lifted up like prayer.


Our Mother baked our daily bread

while you dredged manna

from the unforgiving oceans, fed

five thousand hungry mouths, then

trespassed upon those depths


no more. Weren’t you ever tempted

to return? Your uxorious duty led

You to ink a blue tattoo; anchor your

devotion in a permanent inscription,

while you sat, marooned – Regal, yet


stripped of your omnipotent rigging –

to glory in a love that isn’t puffed up:

reflecting what you were, and all that He

instructed us to do; who sits at your right

hand on high and fished for all humanity.


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