A couple of weeks or so ago, in our Old School cafe, I was having a discussion with a man about the Peter Brook paintings that adorn the cafe walls; the importance of the title; the understated, dry, Northern humour; the feel of place and time. He brought up the title of one particular painting that he’d purchased some years back. The title was The Woods are Lovely, Dark & Deep, and he told me that the line was used as a trigger phrase in an espionage movie, Telefon.
A week or so later I (again) was talking to a couple, (again) in the Old School cafe, and (again) the topic turned to Peter Brook and the titles of his paintings. The woman was from the U.S. and when the discussion reached The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, and I was about to employ my newly found knowledge, she volunteered that the title was a line from the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Then, without warning, and to mine and her companions surprise, she recited parts of three Robert Frost poems, at one stage, during Birches, removing the band that held her pony tail and throwing her hair forward – “Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair, Before them over their heads to dry in the sun” – and at that moment I resolved to buy a book of Robert Frost poems.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
On Tuesday I was (once again) in conversation with a couple (once again) in the Old School cafe. (Once gain) they were taken by Peter’s paintings and (once again) the conversation led to The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, and so I found the poem for them to read. At that point a man in the gallery joined the conversation, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening was his favourite poem, but he’d not seen Peter Brook’s work before and when we found the print he was immediately taken, and thinking it a quirk of fate not to be passed up, bought the picture.
That afternoon I was (once more) conversing with a couple in the Old School cafe (once again) discussing Peter’s paintings, which (once again) provided an opportunity for me to show off my newly found expertise, both in Peter’s work and in the poetry of Robert Frost, but I was immediately undone. Unbeknown to me, the couple were Peter’s daughter, Katherine, and her husband.
As we chatted a lady came over to be served, she was buying a Peter Brook greeting card, and as I took her money at the till I mentioned Katherine. She told me that she and her husband were on their way to visit her Uncle, who taught with Peter whilst he was teaching art, and told me of their recent trip to New England and to Robert Frost’s farm, and their love of Robert Frost poetry. I introduced them to Katherine.
Yesterday a man visited the gallery, as we talked he told me that he’d purchased a Peter Brook when he’d visited some years before. Guess which picture he’d bought?
In our small gallery in remote Upper Swaledale, it seems to me that the world now comes to us, and every conversation leads to a connection and a deeper understanding.