‘Portrait of the artist as a young robin.’
(Before I knocked)
Recently, a robin flew into my window, and broke its neck.
Around this time, I'd been working on ideas for a crown for Dylan Thomas (I've been making a series of crowns for the past two years). I bought the poor, shattered bird into the warmth of the kitchen, to see if it would revive; sadly, it would not.
I was holding it in my hand, and mourning the fact that my fierce, fighting territorial little singer would no longer follow me around the garden, as I worked.
I have a poster of Augustus John's Portrait of Dylan Thomas above my fridge....and I noticed that the plumage was almost exactly the same colour. Sitting apart from society, but always commenting upon it, they both sang for the sweetness of their voices.
The shape of the crown will echo the waves of the sea, and will be open fronted, like a laurel wreath...won, not inherited.
Thomas was born in Swansea, and chose to live most of his life near the sea.
He often loved to walk out to Mumbles on the Gower peninsula, thinking it one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Thomas is represented as the robin, whose egg lies singly, in the nest.
His poem ‘‘Before I knocked’’ revolves around the idea of yet coming into existence.
The words of this poem boom out from the deeps below the nest, and its encircling crown.
I made the nest from the unpicked threads of old clothing, hoping to draw an analogy between the nest, and the community in which Thomas grew up. He later wrote of Mr. Mog Edwards, the draper – who supplied the community of Llaregyb with all its needs in those inward-facing days.
Atop the crown, and with the waves now facing America, is a little Monopoly ship. Thomas sailed to the U.S.A. where he was becoming famous, but became ill, and died there. So the egg, and the Monopoly ship, between them, bookend his days.