Art in Focus – February 2022
Malcolm Doney, 2019
Covid has been awful, alienating, and tragic for some but, as we’ve slowly begun to realise, it has had a few beneficial effects as well. We’ve recognised our dependence on one another and on public services. We’ve learned to be resourceful and changed long-formed habits. And some of us have had more time to explore the things we always promised ourselves we would do.
This drawing is by my husband, Malcolm. He studied fine art at St Martin’s School of Art, London, back in the day, but most of his career has been in writing and journalism. Oh, and he became a priest in the Church of England later in life. As a result, his practice as an artist has taken a back seat for some years. Gradually, he was finding his way back into the studio and then, last year, mid-Covid, he decided to do a drawing a day throughout Lent. What had started as tentative steps became full stride.
Malcolm has always been struck – inspired – by the phrase ‘Heaven in ordinary’ in George Herbert’s 17th-century poem ‘Prayer (I)’. As a result, his work focuses on the domestic, the vernacular. His subject matter includes kitchen implements, everyday crockery, and weathered buildings. But as within the long tradition of still life there is more than meets the eye. In this deliberately naive drawing, a plain bowl is set on a towel next to a bar of green soap. But it was made on Maundy Thursday – the day when we remember Jesus washing his disciples’ feet before their final meal together – and this gives it an extra resonance.
Art in focus is curated by Meryl Doney