Bob Aldous

Spring to Sea –  Painter and Poet

Painting and poetry make good bedfellows. Here we see the poet Myra Schneider respond to the paintings of artist Bob Aldous.


Collaborations between poets and painters are not new. In fact there is a fashionable movement of responding to painting through poetry.  The late art writer John Berger, in his seminal book ‘Ways of Seeing’ reminded us that images come first, then words – ‘but when a poet creates a poem in response to a work of art then the words become another way of seeing.’

Bob Aldous 


There are many artists from the canon of art history that Bob Aldous eloquently cites in relation to his work. Some are influences, other artists mirror his own psyche and preoccupations. Tiepolo and Turner, Tapies and Tillyer all hold sway but lets look at the intrinsic nature of the paintings, performance and poetry of the man himself.


Air and water – breathing through water – walking on air. The elements earth and fire are nowhere to be seen – Bobs poetry and performance pieces exude ethereality; his silk paintings and watercolours do the same. The quality of lightness, as in ‘ lightness of being’  is clearly not thinness. Bobs paintings flow with a deceptive ease of making which is far removed from the vague mark-making of a ‘thin’ painter;  Aldous is a meticulous practitioner of his craft and well versed in both art theory and metaphor.


Circle is showing the large silk paintings – silk being the surface of choice for its luminosity and staining qualities. The Chinese and Tibetans have been painting on silk for a thousand years. Silk cloth naturally absorbs infinite hues and gradient washes therefore it is the perfect medium for Bobs romantic vision of the world. The paintings draw us into the milky scape-lands of the imagination – an arcadian idyll, or the legendary lands of Shangri-La (Tibet) and Cornwall’s Lyonesse – whatever these works suggest,  essentially  they are places for reverie.



Black Wave II

Watercolour, ink, graphite and acrylic on silk

100 x 150 cms

Look, ocean indigo with anger,

ocean rising up into huge crests

which spew fury, ocean bellowing

at the thin-lipped land crouched

behind it. Look, clouds sweeping

through sky eager to marry these waters.

The black wave threatens annihilation

but in the fathomless dark something is stirring

and it fills you with wonder as you gaze

at the ceaseless seagull-white layers.


Watercolour, ink, graphite and acrylic on silk

150 x 100 cm

It emerges slowly from the fog of unknowing,

widens in this place of quiet and mirrors

all the twiggeries straggling from a flock

of shorn trees. Pause here for a while

and you’ll find too the water reflects grass,

the black line of the bank, a silent bird

dipping for food. And as shafts of light

penetrate darks in the thicket, you’ll see

how wildness seeks for pattern.

Spring to Sea

Watercolour, ink, graphite and acrylic on silk

100 x 150 cm

It begins deep down, wombed in darkness –

so many beginnings take place in darkness.

It emerges from a mountain cleft, is embraced

by light and slithers downwards over stones

and grass in runlets which seem random

but soon it’s a purposeful stream, a river.

Boats dream on it, bridges arch their backs

to span it. At last meaning singles to opening out.

It gives itself to the measureless blue of ocean.

Salt Marsh

Watercolour, ink, graphite and acrylic on silk

100 x 75 cm

A somewhere of land and water as far

the eye can see. Look at the reeds

bedded in silt, how their upward canes

strive to stripe the sky. Follow

the darks of those long liquid lanes

into the drifting uncertainties of mist.

The melancholy of distant bird cries

will tug at your feelings and always

there is the searching for mother sea.

Temple Under the Sea

Watercolour, ink, graphite and acrylic on silk

100 x 75 cm

Under the sea, in terrain where little light

penetrates, sharks and spider crabs roam.

If you look, you’ll find, among rocks clothed

in sargassum and seagrass, a scattering

of columns, some proudly upright, some toppled.

Once this ruin was a temple. It stood on dry land

and rose into the blue of sky but the ocean

has bestowed on it a strange beauty

and is urging you to dive into the world below.


Watercolour, ink, graphite and acrylic on silk

100 x 150 cm

The sea has been dreaming of blue

for days and at last the weighty clouds

have parted. Azure is pooling in the sky.

Look how the deeps and shallows

lap it up. Already blue has infused

these waters with enough light

to quench the grey uncertainty

below the surface. How the sea

rejoices in glittering blue life.