Ystrad Rhondda

Ystrad Stories
Ystrad Rhondda Ernest Zobole 1957

Ystrad Rhondda Ernest Zobole 1957

Ystrad Rhondda

Author: Jimmy Browne

Written in response to ‘Ystrad Rhondda’ Ernest Zobole, (1957)
University of South Wales Art Collection Museum

It was a sunny but cold morning and the street was busy with mothers, some fathers too but mostly mothers, taking younger children to school; older children going in small groups to the big schools; and busy early morning traffic. Now they were all stopped in helpless anxiety and fear, except for those with the younger children who were shepherding them quickly away from the scene. “She just didn’t seem to see the car, just rushed out into the road. I think she was trying to catch the bus.” The woman spoke to the two police officers almost in a whisper, as if to speak louder would be somehow disrespectful to the elderly lady sprawled out in the middle of the road being given urgent treatment by the ambulance crew.

A younger, more distressed voice, came from behind me. “That’s my Nan, that’s my Nan!” I turned to see three teenage girls in school uniform. Two of them were clinging to the third who kept repeating the same words “That’s my Nan, that’s my Nan”, the words strangled by emotion and washed by tears flowing down a too white and disbelieving face. One of a second ambulance crew overheard and hurried to help the young girl, by now deeply in shock. The other crew member was treating the driver of the car that had struck the girl’s Nan; a man in his forties and as deeply in shock as the teenage schoolgirl. Next day, nearby railings covered with flowers.

Ystrad Rhondda

Author: Gerhard Kress

Written in response to ‘Ystrad Rhondda’ Ernest Zobole, (1957)
University of South Wales Art Collection Museum

his blue period, dark blue, no danger of being overwhelmed by bright colours. perhaps the artist Zobole doesn’t do that. all is framed by two lines that eventually, but outside the picture, are destined to meet, were it not for a tall, wooden electricity pole, forcing my eyes back where the real tension is grouped around an empty bit of street.

it’s the expectancy of people on both sides, on their opposing pavements. most of them stationary but for two women in the bottom left corner on their way to the bottom right corner. perhaps they’ll walk out of the frame not concerned with the imminent arrival of that ‘something’ that is suggested to happen without hinting at, what it may be. and then there is a woman, standing and, like the wooden pole opposite, guarding to prevent my eyes from escaping the uncomfortable tension. there is both, stillness and tension. groups of two and three is as much interaction as I detect, with the exception of a boy holding on to the skirt of a woman who herself is holding in her arms a small, blonde child.

I am looking at this painting for a long time. not for what I can see but for what isn’t there. and I’m oscillating between wanting to know about the coming event, however fleeting it might be and feeling a slight dread as to the apparent disconnectedness of the onlookers, arbitrarily meeting in this gathering. in contrast I imagine bright sunshine and smiling faces.

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