Craft or Sullen Art


14×19” oil on panel, 2013

In My Craft or Sullen Art

By Dylan Thomas

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

It was only very recently that women were encouraged, or even allowed, to paint. Barred from higher education and discouraged from pursuing a profession, most creative women were restricted to domestic crafts. Although quilting falls under the umbrella of “craft” in most people’s minds, my model Dorrie is an artist through and through. I decided to honor my predecessors by creating a painting of a woman artist who has found an outlet in a textile medium.

The title of the painting highlights this dichotomy of craft and art. But more importantly, the poem resonated with me because like the poet, Dorrie labors not for “ambition or bread,” for the proud men or the dead, but for the “lovers [who] lie abed.” Dorrie’s work is private, for herself, and for the lovers in her family — for when anyone in her connection marries, she gives the lovers a quilt.

kate@katestoneart.com | 250-709-7441