Vanitas at Milton’s Cottage

Milton 5Web

6th – 28th October,

Milton’s Cottage: 21 Deanway, Chalfont St. Giles, HP8 4JH.

Vanitas prints created from the flowers of Milton’s Cottage garden by John Phillips

Celebrating the 350th anniversary of the publication of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, artist John Phillips has produced a print series from the flowers grown in Milton’s Cottage garden.

Each print hints at or confronts loss, evoking Milton’s idea that in the moment of original sin, the petals themselves died. “From his slack hand the garland wreathed for Eve / Down dropped and all the faded roses shed.” (Paradise Lost, Book IX, lines 892-893).

Assembling individual images from dozens, occasionally hundreds, of separate photographs, Phillips has employed his extraordinary photographic technique to embrace the range of colours, light, dense detail and masked allusions that reference the 17th century Vanitas paintings created by Dutch and English masters from Milton’s time.

To accompany these prints, Phillips travelled to the Greek region of Arcadia to create a panorama of the vast opencast coal mine that occupies the site of the lost village of Anthochori (flower village). For Milton, Arcadia was a fabled land of abundance celebrated in his masqueArcades. For other 17th century writers and painters, including Poussin, Arcadia – and its loss – evoked a bygone Golden Age. Phillips image, Anthochori, reveals our brutality towards this legendary home of Pan and worldly Paradise Lost.

Phillips has additionally printed Sonnet 19 on blind emboss on black paper, as an accompaniment to the print Orb, which references Milton’s own descriptions of blindness and inner vision.

These prints are included in the Vanitas exhibition at Milton’s Cottage and are available for sale from Milton’s Cottage and londonprintstudio.  All proceeds from print sales will go towards Paradise Maintain’d – a new endowment fund to protect and preserve Milton’s Cottage in perpetuity.

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