Some Trees and Snow

Ystrad Stories
Some Trees and Snow, Ernest Zobole, 1978

Some Trees and Snow, Ernest Zobole, 1978

Picture Story

Author: Vera Button

Written in response to ‘Some Trees and Snow’ Ernest Zobole, (1978)
Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru – National Museum of Wales

The picture of the train with mountains rising up from it, reminded me of when we traveled with a circus in South Africa and all the artistes lived on the train. Our wagon was always at the back of the train and it was very old, wooden and had a balcony at the rear, a bit like the old westerns era type.  Our family had one half of one wagon which consisted of three whole compartments and a half, plus the ‘luggage’ racks area which became part of the kitchen. Many of the places we visited were named after the beautiful areas of Scotland, England and Wales and they really did look like them. They were probably named by people from those areas in the first place.

Once, when we were going through the Drakensburg Mountains, we had fabulous vistas and scenery to take your breath away. Sometimes we had two engines on the front and the whole train would be linked, and as it was almost a mile long we’d be able to see the rest of it when on the bends and climbing. Once, it became too much for the engines, so they stopped, and uncoupled our wagons, leaving us parked on the side of the mountain until an engine could be sent back to ‘rescue’ us! Zobole’s picture reminded me of this episode.

We had many exciting adventures including a train crash in the Kruger National Park and amazingly, this painting revived many of them.

Some Trees and Snow

Author: Rob Cullen

Written in response to ‘Some Trees and Snow’ Ernest Zobole, (1978)
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

The painting is of an Ystrad, Rhondda night time view. And beneath the puffed white clouded sky the tree bloomed slopes of Glyncornel covered in snow is dissected by the New Road and studded by the orange reflection of neon on the white road and the elm trees planted at regular intervals. An old style green train runs like a long spangled snake along the valley floor. It could be going or coming to Cardiff. Or to and from the outside world. Each compartment is lit with the yellow glow of night time. Imaginations realm. Maybe it’s a dreamscape made unreal.

Between the road and the railway the river flows. The river is not shown but hidden by the suggestion of slag heaps. The valley floor is wide here. Once river meadows stretched from Ystrad to Pontrhondda and fields of hay, wheat and barley were grown. When I was a child between the river and the road the tumbled down stone walls still marked the outline of the Lilly White, an old mill. A mill race that still flowed deep and still. A place we dared each other to wade. Our shorts rolled as high as they could go. In the fluid murk, water-scorpions fed on tadpoles and dragon fly nymphs prayed on our toes.

But where did Ernie play as a child? Maybe the Lamb Woods in Bodringallt. Maybe always on the outside looking in. Always standing at the doorway as if he is neither here nor there. Maybe he plays in dream.

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