About the Image:
Keble College elicits mixed reactions, some love it. Others think it a vulgar display of showy architecture, or some such thought.
Personally, I like it, and grew to respect it more when I created these Keble College paintings. Researching why it looks like it does, I made a few discoveries. Keble has a high number of geology students, and the style is meant to reflect the strata of sedimentary rocks. I’m immediately taken back to school geography lessons with Miss Fitzgerald when I hear this, but I digress.
The colour of the brickwork and contrasting deep crimson with yellow ochre bands, patterns and textures in every possible nook and cranny. There is nothing without ornamentation. Thank goodness for the blue sky and mottled lawn, to allow the eyes some respite, before journeying onto the brickwork again. It’s too much to look at, at times.
In the far right, there’s a zone of tranquillity a bench encircles, a large brown tree trunk. It’s winter so the quad is quiet. I imagine the spot is popular on find days, when the leaves are out in spring or summer. A welcome shade to study under, or maybe sneak a quiet read of a favourite novel. Although it might not be quiet. Students meeting friends or lovers. The odd Don preparing for a lecture or discussing ideas with a colleague. Plans, schemes, plots and merriment, I suspect this tree and bench have seen them all. An endless stream of students, professors and other visitors. How many people have sat in it shade and dreamed of a future, a promising future? Where are they now?
So let’s return to the tranquillity of the moment, and that empty bench in a quad. In the background of this Keble College Painting, two figures walk in opposite directions, blending into the brickwork. Their paths influenced by the building, and its unknown significance in their anonymous lives.
It’s 25 to 12, according to the clock. Soon there will be students pouring out of the various doorways. From lectures, seminars and study periods. There will be noise, chaos and laughter.
But not just yet…