• Fear in a Handful of Dust

    This painting is inspired by the following series of lines from T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, 19 to 30, from the first section, The Burial of the Dead. The biblical drama always appealed to me.

    What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
    Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
    You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
    A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
    And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
    And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
    There is shadow under this red rock,
    (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
    And I will show you something different from either
    Your shadow at morning striding behind you
    Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
    I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

    Classic mortality theme. Big tip, if you’re up to reading the whole poem: water = faith, but not necessarily religion – just faith (hope, willingness to live and carry on, and so on). Strangely, the poem does end on an upbeat note. One could also read a big carpe diem into it. Shantih.


    Mixed media (pigment, marble dust, ash, paste, various glazes) on canvas, 24″ x 48″
    Located at: The Beaumont Studios