Extract > Kaye Donachie – a painting for The Ice Palace

Beneath the dust jacket of the new edition of The Ice Palace is a painting by the London-based artist Kaye Donachie. You might be surprised to learn that Donachie’s painting was not specially commissioned for the novel about the furtive relationship between two young girls, one of whom disappears in the frozen Norwegian countryside. In fact, we were spoilt for choice. Here, she describes the true origins of the painting, Clouds Are Pushing in Grey Reluctance



Clouds Are Pushing in Grey Reluctance (2009; oil on canvas, courtesy Maureen Paley)

THE CLOUDS are pushing in grey reluctance slowly northward to you,
While north of them all, at the farthest ends, stands one bright-bosomed, aglance
With fire as it guards the wild north cloud-coasts, red-fire seas running through
The rocks where ravens flying to windward melt as a well-shot lance.

– D.H. Lawrence, from Letter from Town: On a Grey Evening in March



I made this painting after reading the memoirs of Frieda Lawrence who was also the wife of DH Lawrence. She was a freethinker, writer and sexually liberated woman. Frieda was D.H. Lawrence’s companion of almost two decades and was considered an eccentric, strong-willed figure who provided the inspiration for Lawrence’s major works which were all written during their years together.

I became interested in her as a protagonist for my paintings when I was researching the creative thinkers that had resided at Monte Verita in Ascona Switzerland. The mountain has served as the site for many different Utopian cultural events and communities since the beginning of the twentieth century.

The painting is of a woman’s face, images dissolving into landscape. I wanted to create an evocative mood as her thoughts and emotions are being projected onto her surroundings. There is no clear narrative but the emotion is driven by my choice of colour. The cold, green and muted palette merges and compresses the images but retains an ethereal, dreamlike space.


Order the Cased Classics edition of The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas


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