To see examples of my paintings just Google ‘Colin Blundell at the Bear Steps Gallery’. This is in Andrew Howe’s Website where the paintings will appear under the heading ‘Phantom Cities’.
The first Magic City paintings I did date from around 1976; so I’ve been revisiting this City of the Mind on and off for 30 years. Why ‘City of the Mind’? Human habitations of all kinds can stand as a metaphor for the soul; the city can stand as a metaphor for that indefinable something that you feel deep inside you; it’s what possesses you, drives you onward, creates often seemingly quite irrational longings.
The shapes of this City of the Mind, this Soul-container, have remained more or less constant for 30 years, half a lifetime. There has to be some driving energy behind such a long-term obsession!
What is the shape of your soul?
I had contained the fond illusion that all cities were in reality magical – the very words that named them seemed so: Gloucester, Salisbury, Shrewsbury, London… But arriving at them by bicycle, I was always so disappointed to find that in order to get to the original hub of the city, its soul-place, cathedral close with a ring of long-settled fine houses around it, I had to pass through dingy suburbs, warehouses, scrapyards…
Perhaps this is like one’s own soul? What do you have to go through to get to it?
Anyway, influenced from youth by the drawings in Rupert Bear Annuals, I invented my own perfect city, set in an ideal landscape. In my Soul-city there are no cars, no lorries, no railway lines, no ring roads (nothing to demand a by-pass, nothing to go on the by-pass!), no business parks, no high-rise office-blocks, no out-of-town shopping centres; nothing of the Capitalist Blight that grows up around all modern cities. My Soul-city is a place where the human spirit is nurtured. The pace of life is very slow in the Magic City.
To paint the Magic City, I start by walking the streets at different times of day, taking deep breaths of the fresh air that comes from the hills and the sea. There are always arches and colonnades; there are various official viewpoints.