Saturday 14 April 2012

Quince blossom

"That's how artists change the world. They see beauty that is overlooked by the fashion of the day. Then others come to their shows and see in their turn, and so the truth of beauty is preserved. Except they don't come, and the truth is lost."
                                                         from All the Hopeful Lovers
                                                         by William Nicholson 

Impossible not to think of poor Vincent van Gogh as I read these lines in William Nicholson's novel; Van Gogh who only sold a handful of paintings in his lifetime, and whose talent was only recognised after his death. Of course, the truth of beauty isn't lost as the artist in the book claims, however deeply he feels, in his disappointment, that it is.

Wandering around the garden with my camera, I was struck by the simple truth of spring blossom against a blue Provencal sky, as depicted by Van Gogh in his Almond Blossom series, a version of which I saw at Les Baux the other day:

The quince tree (photo above) has all the clear beauty of the white against blue, and the fragility of petals still at the mercy of seasonal wind and rain.

William Nicholson is the kind of writer-artist who has an eye for telling detail, but all in a remarkably fluid and easy style. I came to this novel after loving the first of his I read, The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life, a story - as is this sequel - of intertwining relationships and intimate thoughts. If you haven't discovered him yet, I suggest you treat yourself to his gentle (and not-so gentle) observations that might make you see the world a little differently.

The characters in his fictional Sussex countryside are instantly recognizable but Nicholson's masterly dissections pin their inner lives to the page to offer insights that have the weight of universal truths. Connections between individuals - some loose, some close - as their lives interweave seem judicious rather than forced for the sake of a story. Just like real life, in other words, but with all pretence gone: closely examined and enhanced in order to offer understanding. Which has to be the aim of art in any form.

In such a mood of admiration and reverie, I stood staring for a long time at the quince, the way the warm rose of the buds fades to a shell pink. How could I use it in my own writing? How many quinces will result from such a profusion of flowers...? The fruit is a knobbly brute of a hard yellow pear, but the flavour is delicate and subtle. If you leave them around the house in autumn, they release a fragrant aroma that is supposed to banish any mustiness. There might be something in that...


Harvee said...

My ornamental Japanese quince bushes have bright coral blossoms that are lovely to look at, among the first blossoms in the garden in spring. Your white blooms are lovely against the green leaves and against a blue sky.

Libby said...

Your quince blossoms against that sky really do look so much like Van Gogh's painting! I have never seen a quince blossom in person - they are quite lovely.

Lynne with an e said...

You've caught its quince essential beauty.

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Lovely photos of quince blossom.I've only previously seen pinkish red flowers on quince trees,whatever the colour the fruit makes beautiful jelly.

Thanks for showing the magical Van Gogh!

Elizabeth Young said...

Love the pictures of the quince blossom Deborah! SO beautiful. Thanks also for the information on William Nicholson, I will try to get a copy of his book.

litlove said...

I have enjoyed both of the William Nicholson novels and do admire the way he weaves the lives of his characters together - not to mention keeping all those plot strands moving forward! I also love your pictures of quince blossom, which I've never seen before. The likeness to the Van Gogh is uncanny - and very beautiful.

Reading Tea Leaves said...

Yes, they really do! A friend gave me some from her tree last autumn and the fragrance was tantalising.

Lovely blossom against the azure sky.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...