THE MEANDERING ARABESQUES OF A CARDIGANSHIRE LANE are central to many of John Elwyn’s later paintings; they rise then disappear from sight – over a hill or behind a hedgerow – only to re-appear horizontally displaced and continuing their journey to the horizon.
Fields of corn undulating in the August gales create unexpected waving forms, whilst inquisitive farm animals peer through a hedge, a felled tree, or between barn walls.
The sky is seldom given prominence. John Elwyn remembered how as a child at school he was given a small card at the end of the week for good attendance. Usually the cards depicted scenes in Canada. He soon came to realise that they all looked the same – a road leading through rich vegetation, or a thorn bush with objects fragmented behind its tangled branches.
In the Cardiganshire landscape he recognised that gnarled hawthorn bushes, or the jagged skeleton of a collapsed barn silhouetted against golden pastures after hay harvest, offered potential for dynamic compositions.
The geometric shapes of bright green, yellow and orange sunlit fields, storm-threatening skies, shimmering white-washed barns and winding country lanes are the raw ingredients of landscapes compartmentalised by fences, hedgerows, and stone walls.
These are the recurrent motifs in John Elwyn’s late paintings. He often re-used titles such as Off the Main Road, Welsh Hill Farm, Entrance to a Farm, White Washed Walls, Dyfed Landscape or Upland Farm for the paintings he made of the luscious meadows along the banks of the rivers Teifi and Ceri – where the cottages are tucked away behind apple trees in the elbows of the hill, and dappled white-washed walls can be picked out in the morning sunshine from a patchwork quilt of hedge and fields.