Seven Years of my Artistic Life at Oak Tree House

The Painter’s Studio: A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life (Omans, France,1855) by Gustave Courbet (d.1877) An inspiring painting

From my Journal Epiphany 2017.” I keep on coming back to this painting, again and again! The Fugitive Stag (TFS) is my journey over the last few decades – visiting many new places, but also returning, recently, to old ones, in order to get to know them better – and more intimately. On one level it has been a journey into my ‘Wasteland’. Europe 21st century. My Dad was 2 years old when T S Eliot published his Wasteland in 1922. My paternal grand-mother was born in 1889, a year after T S Eliot.

We have a ‘domestic’ piece of furniture also dated from ‘1889 Bethesda’ (the NW Wales one and not the USA one), my paternal home at the heart of a quarrying community. The house was called ‘Creigle’ (Rock Place). But unlike Eliot’s, my Wasteland ended up also celebrating beauty and sensuality as well as acknowledging the “rats’ alley where the dead men lost their bones.”

Epiphany 2020. ‘The Artist’s Studio’ has become even more symbolic three epiphanies on. I have been busy in my ‘studio’ – my study – finely tuning a myriad of characters and events in order to tell my story. Coincidentally, it has also been seven years of my artistic life, here at Oak Tree House.

My Muse is still there alongside me, or to be more accurate, I am alongside her. Actually, I now know that she is more than a Muse or a ‘Platonic Mistress’. She is something new.

Someone altogether new. I doubt Plato would recognize her!

Courbet’s title contains a contradiction: “real” and “allegory” have opposing meanings. In his earlier work, “real” was a rejection of the heroic and ideal in favour of the here-and-now. It was also a ‘home truth,’ often linked to changing values and standards of morality.

An “allegory” is a story or an idea expressed with symbols. The Fugitive Stag contains both.

Courbet used his title to point out the contradictions and double meanings in the image. The large dim landscapes on the rear wall appear to form a continuous horizon line from panel to panel. They dissolve enough so that we are not sure if they are actually paintings or windows that frame the landscape beyond.

Is it “real” or is it a representation? Courbet seems to muddy the distinction and allow for both possibilities.

10 February 2020 Oak Tree House

Oak Tree House viewed from under the Victorian Railway Tunnels

‘The Fugitive Stag’ – playing around with ideas to promote it …

Set in a parallel world almost exactly to ours, ‘The Fugitive Stag’ tells the story of what happens when history and myth become embodied in a single form, that is both goddess and woman … something more than a Muse or Platonic Mistress … someone altogether new.

The Shamanic and Mystical heritage of the Celtic Fringe meets the Exotic world of Global High Fashion and Beauty and a Religious Orthodoxy ‘Hell-Bent’ on winning its Holy War against Heresy … And an ex-Irish Abbess dead …

Goddess and woman conspire in a single numinous form, where there is no separation between the spiritual and the sensual, but something altogether new.

An epic ‘questing’ film, with mythical elements, set in an apocalyptic ‘near-future,’ in a world very similar to ours.

The Fugitive Stag’ is not ‘arthouse’ neither is it a high concept film, and yet … and yet … it has elements of both, in that characters and their struggles are integral to the drama of a ‘goal-driven story’.

An epic story of love, beauty, religious fanaticism, and a secret for which even the most pious would kill, to prevent the world from discovering.

cervus fugitivus anima

‘The most personal is the most creative.’”

MORE ON PARASITE AND BONG JOON-HO by Robbie Collin, Film Critic of The Telegraph 10 February 2020

Yet it shouldn’t be forgotten that Bong himself owes a creative and professional debt to two Hollywood masters – which he acknowledged with characteristic wit and grace while accepting the award for Best Director, in a speech that will surely become the definitive 2020 Oscars Moment.

“When I was young and studying cinema,” he said, via his redoubtable translator Sharon Choi, “there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is that ‘The most personal is the most creative.’” Then he added in English himself: “That quote is from our great Martin Scorsese.” Scorsese, who was nominated for The Irishman, looked genuinely touched; the room around him erupted and rose to its feet. (This wasn’t extemporised flattery; Bong has often spoken about the impact Scorsese’s phrase made on him as a young filmmaker.)

After a moment, he went on. “When people in the US were not familiar with my films, Quentin [Tarantino] always put my films on his list.” Tarantino was the most prominent Western champion of Bong’s 2006 genre-twisting monster movie The Host, and in 2009 called it one of the 20 greatest films to have been made since the release of Reservoir Dogs.

Spurred on by great American film-makers, Bong became a great Korean one, and is now recognised in America as a great film-maker full stop. You’ll hopefully allow me a misty-eyed Oscar moment of my own when I say that this kind of transnational cross-pollination is exactly how cinema should be working right now. 

Vittoria Colonna (1492 – 1547)

A woman in her own right, this strong lady was one of the most popular women poets of sixteenth-century Italy. She was, in fact, the first woman to publish a book of poems in Italy, an event that launched a revolution for Italian women’s writing.

Michelangelo’s final tribute to her which was read aloud at her funeral …

What wonder is it if, when near the fire,
I burned and melted, now that it is cold
I am consumed still with a fierce desire
And turn to ashes, sad and unfulfilled …
Vittoria by Michelangelo
A portrait of Vittoria Colonna by artist Sebastiano del Piombo.
The first line of her first poem is “I write only to vent my inward pain.”For Vittoria writing was a therapeutic process.

Congragulations PARASITE –

Parasite wins Oscar for Best Picture in Academy first as Bong Joon Ho sc… via @YouTube

The South Korean film won four Oscars, including the biggest prize: Best Picture. It became the first foreign-language film to claim the award and the first South Korean film ever to win any Oscar.

Bong Joon-ho, is now one of only two individuals to have won four Oscars in a single night: the other, in 1953, was Walt Disney.

Parasite was madefar from Hollywood! To vote for it is to acknowledge on some level that the world ‘home of the movies’ may no longer be the centre of the cinematic universe.

And llongyfarchiadau (‘congrats’) also to the incredible Joaquin Phoenix.

For his first four years of life, Joaquin was known by his proper family name of Bottom. Then perhaps someone noticed his name sounded like Whackin’ Bottom, and the family renamed themselves

Bong Joon Ho
Joaquin Phoenix

Robbie Collin writes: A 92 year Oscar streak has been broken, an unspoken rule in Hollywood upended. A town renowned for self-obsession has done the unthinkable, and looked outwards.