Poetic Book Tribute to Colin Finn by his Son – and Your Chance to Win a Copy
Journey To The White Mountain was written by Benjamin Finn to honour his artist father who died in September. We asked him to tell us something about the book and he has kindly offered a preview copy as a prize. The book will be available by the end of November 2020 but this is an opportunity to get your hands on a copy now. Details of the competition are below.
My father, Colin Finn, had clearly taken notice of the fact that the painter Paul Cézanne repeatedly painted Mont St Victoire, France, in many different ways. He made large triangular canvases in the early 1980s and so the seeds were sown for his eventual ‘White Mountain Series’ based on Carningli and other high points in the Preseli Mountains.
If Cézanne’s paintings reflect the climate and light of sunny Provence, the White Mountain paintings do the same for Pembrokeshire with the peak often shrouded in mist or dusted with snow. For me, his late paintings of these ethereal mountains and his ship paintings were also symbolic, as well as being expressions of lifelong interests. In a sense they are both about journeys into the unknown.
I felt moved to write a poem inspired by my father’s work in the days following his death on 9 September. I have written poetry before, but very little, and none has been published. I had written a poem about him in the 1980s and was reminded of that but realised it wasn’t suited to the moment, so I started to get some ideas about a new poem. Although I didn’t have particular paintings in mind for all of the verses I was thinking about his work and so the imagery in the poem reflects to some extent that of the paintings.
I thought the poem would work well illustrated by some of his paintings in a small book so I designed and had printed a small memorial edition for family and friends. I was surprised at how well certain paintings fitted to sections of the poem. I now have a slightly modified version of the book printed and made available for sale in Pembrokeshire bookshops and art galleries.
Because my parents separated, I didn’t live with my father who moved around quite a lot as he worked in various art colleges during his working career ending up as head of fine art at Maidstone College of Art. I lived in Oxfordshire during my childhood and then moved to Essex when I got married and set up my own stained glass studio.
I have visited Pembrokeshire a few times a year for the past 20 years and we usually spent our summer holidays with our own children in Pembrokeshire. When I was in my teens, however, I spent summer holidays at Newport parrog with my mum and stepfather. They knew the celebrated pioneer of organic agriculture, John Seymour, so I had the interesting childhood experience of visiting his farm on various occasions.
One of my memories of a summer in Newport was when my mum and stepfather were caught in a freak storm in their Mirror dinghy out in the bay and capsized and had to be rescued by the lifeboat, which then consisted of a large rowing boat manned by locals with oars. I doubt this is the arrangement today but they certainly did a good job and brought them to safety.
During my visits to see my father we talked a lot about art and the painters he liked and we shared a love of the same kind of work. He introduced me to artists whom I didn’t know about, like Paul Nash and other British painters of the 20th century, and Samuel Palmer whose early work inspired many Neo-Romantic painters of the period.
I became an artist by retraining after having done a degree in marine biology. I did a postgraduate diploma in stained glass at the Central School of Art, London. I had grown up surrounded by art and artists, though, as my mother was also a painter and lecturer in art history at Reading University and my stepfather was a sculptor.
I work from the redundant church of St Peter’s, Wickham Bishops, Essex, owned by the Friends of Friendless Churches and converted into a studio. My own work as a stained-glass artist has mainly been made for churches in the south of England. I have a window in Southwark Cathedral, Gary Weston Library, London, and Chelmsford Cathedral. Because my website is currently being reconstructed images of my work can be seen on Pinterest using the link:
To have a chance to win a copy of this book of poetry, please answer the question:
What is the White Mountain also known as?
All readers, and particularly any poets or people interested in CL Finn’s work, are encouraged to enter. Email email@example.com by 16 November 2020 with your answer and your postal address and we will send the lucky winner their own copy.
The first correct entry drawn after that date will be the winner.