I made contact through his website and an email correspondence developed that has led to Merlin and his partner, Bethany, coming to St Ives a couple of weekends ago and staying in the excellent Old Vicarage at the top of our road. Merlin brought the watercolour of St Catherine’s College, Oxford that I had commissioned him to paint at an early stage of our email trail. Back in the late 60s, both my father-in-law and my mother-in-law had commissioned oil paintings from Jago Stone. Following the passing of my father-in-law, Ronald, last year, aged 90, I now had a legacy I could use to commission
Merlin to paint the Oxford college where I was an undergraduate between 1967 and 1970. There is a pleasing symmetry in these events. And I love Merlin’s work.
|St Catherine's College, Oxford - a watercolour by Merlin Porter - 2016|
In contrast to the classical straight-edged and uniform architecture of the college, Merlin has a central focus on the sculpture that is the essence of Grecian curve and flow. Serendipity determines that the work of course is a Hepworth. For me, the two students moving purposefully and in synchronised step away from the college represent … well, that’s another story. As for that elusive shape moving in the other direction, back into college, what psychic time-warp does that suggest? Merlin and we did of course pay our respects at the Barbara Hepworth gardens during the weekend and that was an enlightening experience. The familiar transformed by the artist’s eye and observations.
Untitled and Undated - Jago Stone
Our title is 'Lady on the Stairway' and the date is circa 1969
Yet this will be a biography that will also acknowledge its own inevitable failure. All biographies limp. How can we ever get a definitive overview of anyone’s life when so much of our mortal span is shaped by the sub-conscious and self-deception?