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What the Fall does to Rhubarb

Tuesday, 14th October 2003, page 2 of 2
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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Having got my eye and hand back in practice, I couldn't resist drawing these rhubarb plants lying prostrate across the path. They'll be past turning into jam by now.

I wondered if prostrate was the right word to use to describe its flopped over state so I looked it up in my online Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Prostrate can mean:

Of a thing usually upright: levelled with the ground, thrown down.

Or figuratively:

Laid low emotionally; submissive; powerless; overcome with grief etc.; physically exhausted; unable to rise through exhaustion etc.


Yep, that describes the way I feel right now!

In a way I feel as if this drawing is what many works of art are; a kind of self portrait. I feel that what life throws at all of us is having the same effect on me as the autumn has had on this rhubarb.

As I draw it all I'm trying to do is record as accurately as I can the appearance of the plant - this isn't an overtly expressionist drawing - but it's a bit like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: the observer always has an effect on what is being observed. Admittedly Heisenberg was describing sub-atomic particles, not rhubarb, but the same thing applies, try as we might, we bring our expectations and preconceptions to everything we observe.


So every landscape painted has something missing from but implied in the picture: the feelings and expectations of the person who painted it. It's the same with a portrait, which should be a joint effort between the sitter and the artist. And the same with this rhubarb. next page

Richard Bell

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