Phoenix New Life Poetry, Art, and Music

Dave's artwork

I had always loved sketching since my childhood, birds, animals, churches and cricket matches, but my first real painting was, in the Art Class of Woodhouse Grammar School, aged 14, a romantic pre-Raphaelite scene, set in a Wiltshire country lane at sunset, of a maiden kissing farewell to her beloved as a Redcoat waited to cart him off to Botany Bay for stealing a sheep. After that events conspired to interrupt that line of development, bar for many hours sent in the Tate Gallery in London as a student, such that painting and piano-playing mute, in my twenties into writing poetry and folk-singing and it was not until I was, at twenty five, that the springs of painting burst out again spontaneously, in 1969,in celebration of falling in love, in a Marc Chagal imitation painting called ‘The Embrace’ in which myself and my ‘amour’ of the time (a Josie) were flying into the sky over Halifax Church steeple from the zebra crossing in the High Street, with wings like angels. This was a real event – we held up the traffic.

The flood-gates had opened. The paintings that follow, in more or less chronological order are mainly the ones that came as Zen-like inspirational flashes or dream-visions, leaving out many more ‘commercial’ landscapes and other themes contrived as sketches or from photographs, that were executed during the brief period in the early 1970’s when I made a decent living as a commissioning artist, paintings that I soon parted with once done. I have included a few that were painted as cover-pictures for Phoenix New Life Poetry. After this beginning, the paintings that followed were likewise emotionally inspired, first of all, the ‘gravestone’ one commemorating my favourite ‘Uncle Wilf’ after his passing in 1969.

Uncle Wilf by David Allen Stringer
“Uncle Wilf” – David Stringer (1970)

The verse on the Gravestone:

I was born here
he died here
continuity and sadness

Sun from coal bright hearth
where he hewed his joys and sorrows
shines on the wooded hills grandeur
where I journeyed here

The miracle of life
in death is that we
can feel with such caring;
What can we
do but be
good and generous sons
of good and generous fathers

World’s hardness
chokes off tears
too often in each one,
my gentle cousins

Uncle Wilf, died 1968, Rotherham aged 45

Next another four-in-one painting telling the story of another to become failed ‘amour’ entitled “Dante in Search of the Ideal Beatrice”.

Dante In Search of The Ideal Beatrice by David Allen Stringer Dante In Search of The Ideal Beatrice by David Allen Stringer
“Dante In Search of The Ideal Beatrice” (1971)

There were a few paintings inspired by close friend’s dreams such as “Shirley’s Dream” (of her friends as to what could happen to them if they smoked too much weed)

Shirley’s Dream by David Allen Stringer
“it’s a lesson too late for the learning, made of sand, in your hand”
The Buddha and the Kiss by David Allen Stringer
THE BUDDHA & THE KISS by David Allen Stringer (See the candle poem)
(This consecrates the silence of the room, the Buddha and your kiss)

I don’t want/to sleep, when/I’m at one, at/peace, with an/easy thought/of night-long/wonderment,/ at the Song/that comes to/me, here, now/though I can/sleep, with such/deep trust, as/ having much/to thank love/for, that moves/by night and/day, with hand/of gentle/ dark and light;/poem-candle,/late at night/to bridge the/running stream/between death/ of day’s wide/eye, that burned/with struggle/and little-/thought of dreams,/ the passive/faith in love/that fear,/with fire/of sleepless-/ness, thought, wards/ off, with word,/but not these,/as I blow/out this poems’/ candle-flame/prophecy/of sweet dawn/glow, reborn,/lingering/lovingly - - -

On the same theme “Lovers’ Bliss”

Lovers’ Bliss by David Allen Stringer
Lovers’ Bliss

There were also a number of works on a more spiritual/esoteric theme such as “The Steps of Enlightenment (See on the main Phoenix New Life Poetry page as the cover of the most recent issue of the journal.) As also, on a philosophical theme of balance- in “Apollo & Dyonissius”

Apollo & Dyonissius by David Allen Stringer
Apollo & Dyonissius

Between the Autumn of 1973 and the Autumn of 1975, I had the ease and leisure of a full student grant at Bradford Regional College of Art, in Yorkshire, studying “Community Arts” (film, theatre, television and radio) and so had ample time and opportunity to paint, as I felt inspired to, without having to get paying commissions for paintings, writing plays and running various poetry & music events in the North East, with the chance of municipal and private exhibitions in Leeds and Manchester. These are what I hung onto amongst those that were sold, as of special value to me.

The Artist As A Caged Lion by David Allen Stringer
The Artist As A Caged Lion (1973)
Relationships by David Allen Stringer
“Relationships” (1974)
Relationships by David Allen Stringer
“Igni Creandum, Non Delendandum”
(the Fire must create and not destroy) – 1975
Relationships by David Allen Stringer
“Mr Music” – (1975)
(See how many of the 36 different musical instruments you can find in this picture!)
Relationships by David Allen Stringer
“The Angel of Artistic Vision” (1975)

Between 1976 and 81, I was preoccupied with setting up & co-running an Horticultural, garden-design/ landscaping and agricultural-contracting business in Cornwall which left little time for anything else, but which brought the creative satisfaction of creating living/evolving landscapes rather than dead-paintings.

On The Edge of The Abyss by David Allen Stringer
“On The Edge of The Abyss, a bird sang on a green, so frail twig” (1976)
The House Of Light by David Allen Stringer
“The House Of Light” (1976)

There was another lull from painting after 1981 on account of being engrossed in writing a long novel.

Morgana Le Fay by David Allen Stringer
“Morgana Le Fay” (1983)

During this time, I spent a lot of time in my favourite Derbyshire Peak District, sketching landscapes.

Matlock Bath by David Allen Stringer
“Matlock Bath” (1983)

By 1984, with friends, I became involved in comedy rock cabaret bands, in the North West, where years before I had run poetry & live music venues, which involvement continued on and off into the 1990’s, with much creative song-writing and performing, some of which you will find here in the final, fourth part of this website, “Phoenix Music”. In 1985, I met and fell in love with my current partner, Pam, with whom, in 1989, I again got involved with the land, in Cornwall (as with other green, peace action things)

The Zen of the Painter by David Allen Stringer
“The Zen of the Painter” (1985)

(The poem as set within the picture)

To assert oneself,
without being assertive,
like the star on the stage
must impress, yes, impressing
but merging in one’s landscape,
like a small bamboo
on a big mountain
under an infinite sky,
more like a bird that sings
on a green twig of bamboo,
withdrawn, so as all to give
while one’s eye embraces
all of the ten thousand things,
feeling the slightest
stirring of the breeze
in the mood on someone’s face,
quiet, ever listening,
like a pianist at one
with the notes that he or she plays
on the piano of colours
and shapes, alone in a room
so as to comprehend
the life-pulse of the Universe,
knowing, but only answering
to a question if asked,
briefly, in a haiku
enigmatic and muted
by wonder at the gates
of the mysterious
which is beyond all images
and which remains unspoken,
responsive to sensation,
like a stealthy cat
in a forest of bamboo
on a many-flowered mountain,
standing on the peak
without ever needing
to be, of Earth, a King
or Queen, just a simple person
who follows the instinctive way
that opens doors to others
once he or she has moved along
to somewhere unseen beyond!
The painter, like a lover,
does not need to speak
if he or she feels and sees,
does not need to explain
what can be sensed without words,
knows how to sail a river
like one born by the water!

True Love by David Allen Stringer
“True Love” (1986)

The smaller paintings that here follow are the cover pictures for issues of Phoenix New Life Poetry

A Renewed Spring Of Light and Life by David Allen Stringer
“A Renewed Spring Of Light and Life wells up from deep within the Earth and Psyche” (2005)
Autumn Fruits by David Allen Stringer
“Autumn Fruits” (2004)
Spring Blossom by David Allen Stringer
“Spring Blossom” (2006)
Beltane Oak by David Allen Stringer
“Beltane Oak As The Tree of Life Reaching Out into the Cosmos” (2006)
Spring Dawn by David Allen Stringer
“Spring Dawn, Fowey” (2007)
The Sea-Dragon of St Cadix Creek by David Allen Stringer
“The Sea-Dragon of St Cadix Creek” (2007)

I complete this selection of paintings with the 8 by 4 foot mural mounted outside our local public library as part of a competition for the area community groups in 2006 (in which we won first prize).

The Springs and Roots of Ancient Fowey by David Allen Stringer
“The Springs and Roots of Ancient Fowey” (2006)

Published on  February 21st, 2021