Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Seeing: a tribute to John Knapp-Fisher

Early last Saturday morning, a very old friend of mine passed away – the artist, John Knapp-Fisher. John lived in the North Pembrokeshire village of Croesgoch. He had his gallery and studio there, all part of his home, and I knew him for almost 50 years.

Knowing John and seeing his work over time has given me a lot to think about. Principally he made me think about seeing. John was primarily a landscape artist. His painting and drawing drew attention to the world as he saw it and felt it. In the strong way they did that, they became a means for other people to see it too.

e 26 old GoodwickOne afternoon a few years ago, John and I drove together to Goodwick to look at where the 19th century Welsh storyteller, Shemi Wâd, had lived. The street has long gone. But John and I had studied a photograph of it – it’s the photo I’m including here – and for an hour or two we walked around, looking at where that street had been from every conceivable angle. I noticed what exact attention John paid to the details of seeing, the lie of the land, the different perspectives.

I didn’t know it at the time but the painting that emerged not very long later must already have been starting to live in John’s mind. It was a painting of Shemi and his street, a kind of view into an imagined past and also a recognition of how the past lives on.

I cherish the memory of that afternoon, as of so many other times with John. It made me think about how visualisation may work for an artist – different in some ways than for a storyteller but in some central ways the same. It strengthened my awareness of the powerful links between memory and imagination and that both are part of seeing. It also made me realise more fully than ever before how consistently John worked, his mind in a constant engagement with the world around him, its colours and shapes, how it changes and how it stays the same.



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