lundi 28 juillet 2008

Les funérailles de William Brown

William Brown (photo Bernard Mitchell)

Les funérailles de William ont eu lieu ce vendredi 25 juillet au Pays de Galles dans le petit cimetière de Merthyr Mawr. Merci à tous ceux qui ont témoigné leur sympathie. Voici le « Tribute Poem » que j’ai lu pendant la cérémonie.

William my friend,
William my friend cooking in the kitchen, explaining how to make that tasty gravy sauce,
William inventiveness and humour, William smiling, laughing and joking,
William with his paintbrushes, pencils, carving tools, inkrollers, wooden spoons, “Look at these hands! I can do anything anywhere.”
William drawing carving woodcutting printing and painting in the Old Library in Cardiff,
William drawing carving woodcutting printing and painting in his Church, St Stephen’s Cathedral in Llangynwyd,
William smiling, teaching to the children in Maesteg Valley,
William quoting Arthur Rimbaud "The Drunken Boat"
« Comme je descendais des Fleuves impassibles,
Je ne me sentis plus guidé par les haleurs.
Des Peaux-Rouges criards les avaient pris pour cibles,
Les ayant cloués nus aux poteaux de couleurs. »
William and his own personal zoo : wolves, puffins, camels, beavers, bears, moose, elephants and kippers,
William working hard, everyday taking the bus from Bridgend to Llangynwyd, William delivering paintings, collecting paintings,
William hundreds of canvas and watercolours, William red yellow & blue, William black & white, William orange, William brown,
William in junk shops buying red plastic lobsters, green spiders, inflatable sheep, all sorts of plastic bugs,
William in the morning at his desk, left hand writing hundreds, thousands of letters,
William and his rubber stamps collection, playing, drawing and decorating envelopes, sending mail art all around the world,
William in every season, no coat, only his jacket and a shirt “Je n’ai pas froid, je suis canadien” – “I’m not cold, I’m Canadian.”
William speaking in tongues, English, Welsh and French and quoting Gilles Vignault “Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver”,
William in Vimy, looking at his name William Brown engraved on the Canadian Monument,
William in Flanders tasting Belgian beers and eating French fries in Bruges under the snow,
William in Flanders and Artois and Picardy visiting British cemeteries haunted by the ghosts of world wars,
William with relentless energy, so prolific, so generous, giving everything, interested in every person and every story, William with Tony in a bar planning to create the Riffraff Society,
William in Cardiff teaching the art of portrait to aged men and women, offering biscuits and sherry,
William in Swansea University talking about the art of Chardin,
William in public houses explaining new projects, working in front of a glass of cider,
William taking care of Carys, taking care of his parents, his family and friends,
William not too much taking care of himself,
William happy with his life, faithful and kind, semper fidelis,
William and his many friends, William with Malcolm and Keith, and Gareth and Colin and Anthony and David, and Peter and Hervé and Adrian and Johannes and Ivor and more and more,
William so sad when Tony died, William now it’s your turn, too soon, too fast,
William walking in the souks of Morocco or Tunisia, staring at the fruit and vegetables, paying attention to the smells and colours, to the silhouettes of people,
William travelling from Scotland to Canada, to England, Wales, Ireland, United States, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Greece, pilgrimaging to Galicia, to Santiago, Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, William walking on the earth, to give us joy and beauty,
William as a true celtic boy interested in spirits, loups-garous and haunted houses, giving birth to the Venus of Blaengwynfi, Glamorgan,
William and his admiration for Georges Danton, “Bourreau ! Montrez ma tête au people !”
William reading William Burroughs and James Lee Burke, reading the poets Louis Mc Neice, Hedd Wyn, Edward Thomas, WH Davies, Wilfred Owen, Dylan Thomas, Ronsard et François Villon, “Mais où sont les neiges d’antan…”
William French speaking on the phone with that typical québécois accent “Christ en calvaire !”
William calling me, saying he had the vision of the small church of Guarbecque, my native place, as a New Jerusalem coming down from the sky over the Transporter Bridge in Newport and painting that vision,
William painting bears on the Newport city busses, William trying to get prints of bear paws by putting liquid plaster in a damp in Toronto,
William playing with his fax machine : “Attention je pousse le bouton.”
William on the stage in Lille, “je fais mon cirque”, appearing under a red light douche, masked and disguised as a loup-garou, wolf-man mittens and mask, while the audience can’t help laughing and laughing,
William in London at the East West gallery talking to everybody with kindness and simplicity,
William at the Eisteddfod, looking like a bard with his red beard,
William eating mussels in Perros-Guirec, Brittany, William tasting French wine in Carcassonne, William at La Taverne Flamande in Hazebrouck, two years ago, so weary...
William, « Mais où sont les neiges d’antan ? »
William, « Mais ourson les neiges d’antan ? »

Here is a short story written by William. He wrote that piece and sent it to me in April 1998. It is a child memory, un souvenir d’enfance, when he was 5 years old.
So it’s nearly 40 years ago, and I am at a gas station in Ontario. Maybe not too far from Parry Sound – Pointe au Baril – I can’t remember exactly… anyway it’s dry, hot and August… smell of gas. I noticed a car with American Plates… New York State… and a big dead bear strapped across the hood.
Near the pumps, I tried to feed some Cheezies to a little bear chained up. He was too busy trying to scrape the worms out of his ass. To this day, I remember him scooting around the gravel.

I do think that William is now holding the hand of that little boy he used to be in the fifties. He rejoined this innocent child who has always been a part of himself…

William I miss you. William, we miss you.

Lucien Suel
La Tiremande, 20 Juillet 2008

Avec William, à la porte de son studio de Llangynwyd

Voir l’article de Laura Gascoyne paru dans The Independent.
Pour voir toutes les collaborations avec William, cliquer sur le libellé Bestiaire, et le libellé William Brown.

Libellés :

posted by Lucien Suel at 15:26


Blogger Didier L. said...

Lucien, je t'embrasse. Fraternités.

Anonymous Anonyme said...

One could say that the painter and print maker William Brown had no formal training beyond high school. Indeed, I know this to be true. We met during high school and were together constantly from 1971 through 1975. However, it would not be correct to suggest that William was unschooled. He studied the biographies, methods and accomplishments of those who passed into art history before him on a daily basis.
From the time that he left highschool, even as he worked at factory jobs, William assigned himself the daily quota of one hundred drawings. A sizeable pile of bond paper notepads collected in our studio/home in Brampton, Ontario. These drawings used to require constant modeling on my part, though he also did still lifes of every variation imaginable.
Some of the iconic images noted in his later works appeared as early as 1972; such as the still life on a table, set under the moon beyond the windows. The Brampton Police knew these images and others very well. There was a 10 pm curfew on those who were under 18 years in the early 1970s in Brampton. The Police chased us home from our curb seat, regularly, where William perched before Ontario's gothic mansions to sketch after dark. They also knocked on our door at 2 am, to gawk at the nudes in large canvases and ask us why our lights were still on.
The early works tell those stories. The early works reveal the toil and study. He did not go to Pittsburgh to study sculpture, but created a primative forge in the back yard of our rooming house. He had no single mentor, but learned to create woodcuts on boards he collected from the junkyard. He visited the galleries of Toronto to acquaint himself with contemporary artists. He served them beer as he worked behind the bar at Grossman's Tavern on Spadina Avenue in Toronto. He visited to trade stories and ideas in their studios over the storefronts on that broad street.
Well, the lights are no longer on in Williams studio, but he is certainly survived by his works in print and his canvases. He is also survived by those who knew him well after his move to Wales, by his wife Carys, and by two children: Jeffrey (1973) and Ila (1976, born through his early partnership with the Canadian writer Sharon Berg.


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