Magazine article Tate Etc.

Timothy Morton on Samuel Palmer's A Hilly Scene C1826-8

Magazine article Tate Etc.

Timothy Morton on Samuel Palmer's A Hilly Scene C1826-8

Article excerpt

I've loved this painting since I was eight. Palmer was part of William Blake's crew in Shoreham, Kent, and he strangely does to Shoreham a little bit what Chagall did for his Russian village. Look at that upside-down fat slice of a crescent moon. It's playful and charged with some kind of delight. Look at the steepness of that sugar-loaf-style hill. It's not English, but it is... but it isn't. That church, so tiny, yet people seem to fit inside, as if it's the TARDIS. The perspective is extreme, as if we're being crammed into a tiny space - the whole of that dell is maybe a TARDIS.

Palmer's sensitivity to how things always contain much, much more inside them is what gives the painting its richness and its visionary quality. It's fantastically compact, and those branches give it a very strong frame. We're not looking at blurry stuff here - this is all about Blake and his 'wiry bounding line'. Things are very specific and unique, well defined like objects in a stained glass window. …

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