This early oil painting by John Busby was recently returned to the family by the Don Valley Academy in Doncaster where it had been hanging for very many years. The date of the picture, 1956, is the same as the opening of the school so it may have been commissioned for it [See Update]. When the school opened it was a bit of a social experiment. Despite it being the time of a tripartite school system, Don Valley School (as it was) was a combination of Grammar and Secondary modern, more of a comprehensive before the official comprehensives existed.
The painting was moved a number of times, being in the art department for many years before moving to a position at the staff entrance to the school. The school is now moving to new premises and no longer has room. Luckily Abigail Gaines, a previous Assistant Head, contacted us through this website, and we were able to retrieve the painting.
If you have any other information about this painting and the school I would be delighted to hear from you.
In his book Land Mark and Sea Wings John refers to this particular painting, “Visual word imagery in many poems appealed to me, especially in A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad. I painted a huge abstract, Twelve Winded Sky and Idle Hill of Summer” (p27)
A number of John’s paintings from the same era can be seen on the ArtUK.org website. There are particular similarities to Variation on a Landscape 1961 and Landscape Silence 1964 as well as the smaller Silent Landscape 1954 still in the family’s possession.
AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, poem no. XXXII
From far, from eve and morning
And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
Blew hither: here am I.
Now—for a breath I tarry
Nor yet disperse apart—
Take my hand quick and tell me,
What have you in your heart.
Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind’s twelve quarters
I take my endless way.
Silent Landscape 52 x 90 cm, Oil on board
Twelve Winded Sky is huge, 144 x 267cm (57 x 105 inches) including the 12cm (5 inch) frame.