Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 24 Nov; London – another look in at the Tate

Sat 24-Nov-56:  Bought ticket to Zurich – sent off books to self & S. Rotaru. Tate Gallery in afternoon.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0149

Sat 24th of Nov 56
London

Sweetheart,

Oh girl, oh girl, oh boy! Is is good is sit down? Have had it again!

Bustled round Oxford St and Piccadilly trying to buy some string, get books all cleared away-went to Thomas Cook’s and got my ticket to Zürich. Pretty near all set-must go through all the bits and pieces of paper etc.-to see what I can clear out to make space and save weight. There seems a lot of fiddly little things I want to arrive back with to save all the filthy delay of surface post. Superficial odds and ends-just to have something to show what’s been doing. Oh-perhaps fell finish up getting posted like the rest of the stuff.

Went to the Tate Gallery after a few Guinness and sandwiches and spent the best part of three hours there, and left completely wrung out. It is very difficult to take all these pictures in-so many one has seen reproductions of. And rarely do the reproductions have the soft and convincing atmosphere, or colour relation, that is inherent in the originals. Somehow they always harden up and become more aggressive, more blatantly colourful than the paintings from which they were taken. Van Gogh’s sunflowers have so much more vitality and tenderness. Saw the original of that painting in our hall too, incidentally. A couple of Gauguin, much more impressive in reality. Dozens and dozens of things you’d recognise, I have seen. It gets tiresome. I’ll get it back stop all very much to the good I think, because you get the feeling you’d like to experiment and get at it a bit yourself. But apart from making some contact with Ampol (if the commission is still available) I want to sit down for a couple of days. I haven’t done so, except in a plane, or a train, all whilst eating, or writing, since I got off at Rome. I warn you, I am only 11 stone with sports coat, jumper, and overcoat on. Anyhow I am sure you will spoil me-and fatten me up for the Xmas killing. I love you.

Talking of Xmas-Regent St and Oxford have now got all Xmas trees, coloured lights, and Father Xmas out, and the place is quite bright, but bloody cold. It makes me glad that Xmas will be at home with my highly specialised family-would be the very end to get stuck here (or anywhere else) alone when all the spirit is building up, and the half crowns are jingling in your pocket. A very great number of 2/6 pieces here-more than florins. Never quite sure whether I am planking down 2/6 or 2/-. In any case they hardly last long enough to notice. Grog is a colossal price over here-Sherry 3/- glass, claret 2/6 small glass, Scotch 2/6 or 2/9, gin and tonic 2/4 or 2/10. 1/3 bottle (they make beer in little bottles like the tiny Guinness Stout you might have seen) beer 1/1 -stout 1/5 – 1/6 equivalent to about 3 glass to bottle. Consequently everybody is very sober over here.

I’m not very verbose tonight but want, very much, for you both to get a letter are day practically up till the day before I arrive-that way you will not be stamping about the unpruned rose bushes wondering what has happened to your errant (hah! hah! That’s a laugh) husband. I should be in bed with you before you finish reading my last note-and you had, very definitely, be prepared to like it.

Enough for now, I’ll see if I can squeeze a number drop out of this pen in the morning, when the alleged daylight arrives. And with that I give you another consignment of good old home spun love. Kiss, kiss, SAOH.

Sunday morning [25 Nov 56]. Woke early, about 4:30-and read till 5:30-thought I’d give Morphens another visit and stayed with him till 8 a.m. when breakfast brought me to. I am about to wash ½ doesn’t handkerchiefs, one day for the way home-have a horrible pile of dirty ones. Roley’s place was the only opportunity I have had to boil them up and iron them. Nevertheless we manage along and I hope to get home reasonably clean. I’ll diagnose my dirty stuff when you are not looking. It has been raining during the night which seems all to the good as it is now warmer and not so foggy. This is my second last letter as after tomorrow nothing can beat me bringing personal tidings of joy and affection for my two very dear people. I send you a great deal of love darling, and for Graham a great anxiety to see how he has grown-and how long, if not taller, young Trellie has grown. Love, love and more love from your very close at hand husband,

Bill.

Caravanning with Wep – Mon., 9th Aug 1937; painting in Bylong Wep defines his artistic style

Bylong

Monday 9th Aug.

Got a letter from Geoff, I mean, Mickey Blunden yesterday. Seem to be enjoying themselves. Hope none of the wicked Frenchmen grabbed a bit of Mickie’s buttocks. South of France – I too would like to see it, the country of Van Gogh & Cézanne. Be interesting to see the actual scenes they had painted. Be very illuminating as regards their conceptions of nature.

Letter dated 30th June. I suppose they’re pretty near back by this. Strange that they should have seen so much of the world while I have been busy prying & poking into odd corners, gullies and old trees.  If only one could take such a leisurely trip on such a vast scale.

Had our first guest yesterday. Farm hand from homestead up yonder, on property of which we are camped. Spoke to me whilst doing my ‘masterpiece.’ Treated him to a cup of tea and was rewarded with vision of him balancing said cup on lap and trying to avoid getting crumbs on his lips, all in very best drawing room style.

Did a spot of bush carpentry today. Made a lean-to table against the tree. Have also constructed sunken brick fireplace. Stay here much longer I’d better buy the acre and, so conserve my activities. My! But I’m proud of that table. Jerky writing here the results of most powerful hiccups. Potent rissoles I make!

Have got 4 paintings on the go. Only 1 any good I’m afraid. Still, having great old experiments on others. All mistakes duly covered over with tempura white (home made). How I loathe painting over dried & mistakenly applied colour! Seem to be discovering, after 6 months, the method of painting I prefer to employ. Essentially all a prima, which gives freshness, but unless greatly interested in the subject and it well within one’s capabilities is difficult of execution. However, all mussy paintings can, I suppose, serve as a basis for subsequent, more considered attempt. The difficulties will probably have managed to resolve themselves in the messy soup of paint.

Caravanning with Wep – Friday, 11th June 1937, near Jindabyne

11th June

Time passing most uneventfully i.e.superficially. Ah, but I forget. Tuesday acted the good (or not so good) housewife to my poor missus as she lay stricken upon her sick bed waiting for a blessed minor event. Did all the housework with almost feminine skill and busied myself greatly with this and that.

Wednesday the blessed event came off. Jess rose and is looking up.

Porridge now is the order of the day. Rolled oats, sticky like clay, appearance seems to guarantee constipation of the direst severity. I don’t know whether to really lay the blame there or elsewhere, but something’s happened and I was doing so well too! Damn near had filled the Snowy Valley. Went up to Kos. At 12:00 on the strength of dirty weather during Mon & Tues and was b—- well duped. Nearest slushy water snow at Daner’s. Drove car up and mucked about half heartedly. Anyway Dawnie enjoyed it. Returned to Hotel and took it out in front of fire. Afternoon tea in the lap of luxury. Local gossip supplied by Charlie Krist.  Returning were amazed by the extraordinarily vivid cloud colourings during sunset. Such slashing oranges! The Alps afford us an unique collection of skies, both in quality and quantity. Such linear patterns as one’s imagination would scarcely credit. Bold sweeping curves circling the whole of the heavens. Staight lined shafts slicing off great areas of massed colour. Sinuous rhythms, green vaulting heavens, driving lead mists only feet above, vapours from out the valley, snow capped peaks lost in straggling lines. Forms vortexing towards the earth, their heavy lines tracing the wind currents set in motion by the enormous masses of the hills, an eerie suggestion of upside down solid reality. And all ever changing rapidly, assuming new forms in the very moment the eye peers from shape to shape.

Friday occupied in practically finishing painting of leafless forest. The tortured rhythm of tree form having driven me unconsciously into semblance of Van Gogh technique: can’t see how else I could have done it. I don’t suppose it matters much.

Had yarn to Johnny Weston about the poverty of the soil up here, and was informed his old lady had snavelled the sketch I did of him kicking the calf & is having it framed. Quite a decent scout, not like his grouchy brother pub keeper “Straw”.

Big hop on tonight at the Hall. All the girls getting round today in Kirby grips & setting pins. Whoops!