But what of Sidelands? Roger Folley himself took the photo at the top of this essay. He was 93, and almost blind. The picture was taken outside, propped on a dustbin or similar and photographed. He could not see that he had inadvertently missed maybe three-quarters of the painting. Satisfied that he had kept a record of something that was about to pass out of his stewardship, he put his photo in a folder, along with the other images mentioned here, which subsequently came to me.
Until it comes to light, this is all we have of Sidelands. Maybe accidentally we have the essence of Evelyn's message: the gate is open, wide open, for us to pass through into the organised and productive land beyond; the land, the creator's gift (capital C optional) to mankind, is being looked after on the terms in which the gift was made. There is no exclusion: the gift is for all mankind, on condition that it is looked after with industry, intelligence and love. Suppose she had painted Sidelands with the gate shut? What a different, negative message that would have carried.
Text ©Christopher Campbell-Howes 2022
by Christopher Campbell-Howes
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