The Camera, the Coast and the Canvas: A Picturesque Incident

“Let’s go for a ride,” he said. “Where to?” I dared to ask; but there was no reply more concrete than a “Wait and see.”

It was a clear yesterday, and the afternoon seemed right for a jaunt, a break from the radio waves in which I tend to immerse myself to the point of drowning. So, off we three went. Montague, my lover, and I. We drove down the Ceredigion coast to a secluded little seaside town called Llangrannog. We climbed down the steps to Cilborth beach, which we had all to ourselves. My eye was drawn to the mysterious Carreg Bica, the rock you see me (and Montague) contemplating here. Legend has it that it is the tooth of a giant; it has become more scraggly through the years after a large chunk of it was claimed by the Irish sea.

What I did not know until we got to Llangrannog is that this was to be an excursion into the picturesque. We had come in search of a specific scene as shown in this painting by the Welsh artist Christopher Williams (1873–1934). And there it was, ninety years later, the same seascape, that ever changing, never changing scene. Bica’s decaying tooth excepting. The tide was right in; so we did not get to see the coastline just as it appeared to the artist back in 1917, when its a rock solidity must have been welcoming and reassuring, far removed as it stood from the all-consuming whirlpool uncertainties of the Great War, the horrors of which Williams captured in The Welsh at Mametz Wood (1918).

Now, as I learned upon our return home, that painting is to be ours; it will join a portrait by Williams’s son, Ivor (“Suffolk Farmer,” shown in this Wikipedia entry). Whatever happened to holiday snapshots? I wondered, all the while enjoying the sheer extravagance of this picturesque experience.

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