Most Eastwood and Kimberley readers will be well aware that, as a youth, DH Lawrence was a keen artist absorbing himself in creating mainly watercolour paintings, particularly of still lifes, of local landscapes and familiar features in this area, as well as portraits.
How significant it is that, in the fictional, but semi-autobiographical portrait of himself, as Paul Morel, in Sons and Lovers, Lawrence chose to depict the story’s hero as a young artist, rather than a writer.
Lawrence also highly valued the discipline of making copies of reproductions he had obtained of the work of English artists.
A number of Lawrence’s early paintings are on display in the Birthplace Museum, for all to enjoy. And, those fortunate enough to have been friends with Lawrence’s niece, Peggy Needham, before Peggy died a few years ago, and to have visited her bungalow at Heanor, will well remember several attractive watercolours on the wall, which had been gifted to her by her “Uncle Bert”.
Peggy refused to keep these treasures safely locked away and would respond to any concerns by saying “yes, I know they may fade exposed to the daylight and the sun, but I don’t care - I like looking at them!”
Many readers may not be aware that Lawrence possessed a very fine critical understanding of the history of art, and that in the Introduction to his Paintings, 1929, takes a penetrating look at the aesthetic sensibilities of the English (arguing, among other things, that a paralysing fear of the sensual life has inhibited free creative expression).
Lawrence makes a marvellously refreshing critical an alysis of certain great artists in many of his writings.