I love to hear of a local artist taking their work to a wider world so I was genuinely pleased to hear that Sean Vicary’s short film ‘Lament’, is now showing in London at the Standpoint Gallery with several others in (Un)Natural Narratives. Lament, was originally shown in Cardigan, at the Small World Theatre, and I wrote about it at the time for the Tivyside. Even now two years later I have a clear memory of moments within the film which made me catch my breath, or provoked a yearning for something, perhaps a lost landscape or perhaps simply a vanished youth, a lost part of the self.
The film was made as a collaborative piece with musician Ceri Rhys Matthews, and is an evocative and beautifully crafted animation, lifted to an even more affecting experience by the haunting musical element. Sean Vicary explains that he was inspired to make it in part to capture how deeply his early years of living on the borders of England and Wales in Shropshire had affected him. His awareness of a far away land beyond the hills clearly coloured his childhood dreams, and though it was later in life that he moved to Wales, his awareness of its proximity and its call had been with him throughout his growing years. An early Welsh poem Canu Heledd, offered him a profound insight into the land where he was brought up. The poem tells the story of the defeat in the 7th century of the Welsh king Cynddylan, and the fall of Powys. It describes a ruined land, a slaughtered royal house and the rich Powys lowlands lost forever to Wales, and thereafter recognised as a part of Shropshire The film itself has a poetic structure, with a rhythmic thread and repetitive symbolic visual language. Its theme could be likened to Dylan Thomas’s Fern Hill, where the adult poet looks back and both celebrates and grieves his lost youth. The visual impact of Lament lies in its combination of images of the natural environment, with the use of animation to depict the fragility of life, and the gradual decay that occurs inexorably around us. The lament, is the wail that comes across time from the ancient poet, and equally from the bereaved in any age. The whirling trees, the uplifted totems, the dancing skeleton and the throbbing core, or heart, all speak of the ‘unbearable lightness of being’ and the inevitable aptness of the aphorism ‘in the midst of life we are in death’.