A Painting about Myself in a Landscape

Ystrad Stories
A Painting about Myself in a Landscape Ernest Zobole 1994–1995

A Painting about Myself in a Landscape Ernest Zobole 1994–1995


From then to now

Author: Ann Davies

Written in response to ‘A Painting about Myself in a Landscape’ Ernest Zobole, (1994–1995)
University of South Wales Art Collection Museum

The dim mists of time evolve as ripples. From childhood I recall that trees would bow their branches in respect as the wind whipped the mountain sides. Below, the valley bed beckoned like a guided missile.

It was out of dusk’s dreaming lights that I noticed a man standing. He seemed lost in his own thoughts, unaware. The man stood, his arm extended to some unknown point. The man was gaunt and thin, dressed in a suit.  He turned around, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as the man vanished as quickly as he arrived.

I married and raised a family. My career and family were my life, but when my wife died I felt as though my whole world had collapsed around me. Slowly our children left.  For the first time in my life I was alone; the world seemed bare, bereft of human companionship. In retirement I felt as if I had been an alarm clock that was slowly being run down, its battery about to expire.

I was drawn back to that childhood haunt; it was like a magnet, all embracing. I had to be there.

My journey ended where it began, the light shimmered like a soft kiss on the mountainside’s surface. My spirits rose.  I could almost smell the camp fire of my childhood. I raised my hand – perhaps I could just reach out, touch and be that carefree boy again.

A forgotten memory brought to mind.

THAT man was me…

Sky walking with Ernie!

Author: Rob Cullen

Written in response to ‘A Painting about Myself in a Landscape’ (1994–1995)
University of South Wales Art Collection Museum

Sky walking with Ernie. What took my eye was a recognition of the similarity between some of Ernie Zobole’s paintings with Australian – so called Aboriginal – peoples use of sand paintings. I no longer interrogate the basis of such intuition. From ancient times, Australian indigenous people made a kind of aerial landscape art. It is a map-like, bird’s-eye view of the desert landscape, and it is often meant to tell a traditional dreaming story – “time out of time”. Ernie Zobole’s painting involves representations of aerial maps of the valley and the landscape of which he was entirely familiar. But they also hold a dream like quality especially when he depicts himself standing in a doorway – the entranceway – or maybe lying in a bed – (another kind of doorway into dream) looking out on a fragment of the valley map. Doorways are symbolic places of transition representing the passageway to another reality. I mused that if Ernie Zobole’s painting were akin to Australian indigenous people’s art then what would the story of the Songline sound like and what would the story of the Songline tell people about the mythic creatures of the Rhondda. Later I once again considered the painting and thought about the Mohawks “Sky Walking” when constructing sky scrapers combined with ideas involving five-dimensional space. Walking through Ynyshangarad Park, a friend who was very familiar with Ernie Zobole’s work, had considered whether the artist had outer body experiences which seems to be reflected in the aerial maps but also of his depiction of himself not only looking down at the Rhondda but of himself looking out while looking in.

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