For Rupert Brooke
For Rupert Brooke

For Rupert Brooke

Etching and aquatint
Image size 10cm x 10cm
Limited editon of 100 copies
Hand-signed and numbered in pencil

Following on from my collage and photoetching Wish You Were Here, this etching explores memory loss, with a human head merging with a cliff being eroded by the sea. The birds flying away from the cliff edge are symbolic of memories fading or being lost, as are the crumbling cliffs. The profile is of Rupert Brooke, who died in the war (and whose house I often cycled past as a boy in Rugby). I used to see the boys at Rugby School lined up in the grounds in their army cadet training gear, and think how sad it was they were being trained for war.

The island is Skyros, where Rupert Brooke is buried and the imagery owes something to his romantic and patriotic poem The Soldier.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven