David Inshaw

The Badminton Game


Not on display

David Inshaw born 1943
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1524 × 1835 mm
frame: 1734 × 2045 × 103 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1980

Display caption

This painting, which was originally titled after a poem by Thomas Hardy, is one of a number influenced by the landscape of Wiltshire and in particular by houses and gardens in Devizes. Inshaw has written 'my main aim was to produce a picture that held a moment in time, but unlike a photograph, which only records an event. I thought a painting could give a more universal, deeper meaning to that moment by composing one instant from lots of different unrelated moments.' He has written of 'the mystery and wonder I felt all around me in this magic place'. Provisional as supplied to British Airports Authority May 1990

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscribed on reverse ‘DAVID INSHAW/2 LANSDOWNE TERRACE/DEVIZES/WILTSHIRE’ AND ‘“REMEMBERING MINE THE LOSS IS, NOT THE BLAME.” 1973’ on 2 wood battens attached to top stretcher
Oil on cotton canvas, 60 × 72 1/2 (152.4 × 183.5)
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1981
Prov: Purchased by the Friends of the Tate Gallery from the Waddington Galleries
Exh: Summer Studio, ICA, July–August 1973 (VE/43C as ‘Remembering mine the loss is, not the blame’); John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 9, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, June–September 1974 (47); Patrick Heron, David Inshaw, John Hoskin, Festival Gallery, Bath, May–June 1975 (Inshaw I); David Inshaw: Paintings, Collages, Pastels and Drawings, Waddington Galleries, September–October 1975 (works not listed, repr.in colour); Paintings and Drawings by the Brotherhood of Ruralists, Festival Gallery, Bath, June 1977; The Brotherhood of Ruralists, Fine Art Society, Edinburgh, August–September 1977 (no catalogue) and subsequently at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery and Southampton University; David Inshaw: Paintings and Drawings, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1977; David Inshaw, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, April–June 1978 (21, as ‘The Badminton Game’); The Ruralists, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, April–May 1981 (72); Camden Arts Centre, August–September 1981 (72)
Lit: Edward Lucie Smith, ‘Realism Rules! O.K.?’, Art and Artists, XI, September 1976, p.10
Repr: Apollo, CII, p.297

The painting now known as ‘The Badminton Game’ was originally called ‘Remembering mine the loss is, not the blame’, a title taken from a poem by Thomas Hardy:

She, To Him

When you shall see me in the toils of Time,
My lauded beauties carried off from me,
My eyes no longer stars as in their prime,
My name forgot of Maiden Fair and Free;

When, in your being, heart concedes to mind,
And judgment, though you scarce its process know,
Recalls the excellencies I once enshrined,
And you are irked that they have withered so:

Remembering mine the loss is, not the blame,
That Sportsman Time but rears his brood to kill,
Knowing me in my soul the very same—
Once who would die to spare you touch of ill—
Will you not grant to old affection's claim
The hand of friendship down Life's sunless hill?

David Inshaw has written about the painting as follows:

'It was the first picture I made that had a Devizes “feel” about it, although the elements that go to make up the picture relate to some things that went on before I moved to Devizes in the autumn of 1971. I had moved to Devizes for a number of reasons, to get away from Bristol, a place I love, but the art school where I taught seemed to be taking more and more of my time, and students were continually calling on Alf [Stockham] and I.

'I had got to know the Downs and the Vale of Pewsey by visits to Avebury and Stonehenge, and Marlborough for fish and chips on many evenings. We thought they were the best in the country. The shop has changed hands recently, so I suppose the quality of the F and C will have changed.

'I fell in love with the Downs and the Vale on my first visit. I felt as if history had been condensed to a moment by walking in the landscape about Devizes. The symbols and evidence of man, distant past all around me, gave me reassurance and confidence to develop the ideas that had just begun in me over the previous two years. I had made a number of pictures using the garden as a theme. I had also become very interested in the photographic image, and had started to take photographs of my own. I don't know why gardens, my great grandfather was a gardener, and I feel happy surrounded by trees. Trees inspire me very much, and fill me with wonder.

'I think my main aim was to produce a picture that held a moment in time, but unlike a photograph, which only records an event. I thought a painting could give a more universal deeper meaning to that moment, by composing one instant from a lot of different unrelated moments. I thought, as I only wanted an instant in time, it would take me a long time to paint this picture, so that everything is very carefully composed.

'For some time I had thought of painting as a way of bringing order to the chaos I saw about me and felt inside me. The more chaos I felt, the more order I desired in the pictures I made. I had been living in Devizes for nine months when I began the picture, and had got to know and understand the place a little. I was excited by the warm red brick of the Georgian houses in the town, against the early morning spring skies. I had to be up early to go and teach in Bristol, and usually left Devizes at 7.30, and came back to late evening skies. This, with the trees and gardens I could see from the house, gave the colour scheme for the picture.

'While I was making the drawings for this picture, I had in mind a favourite picture in the National Gallery called “The Combat of Love and Chastity” [14th Century Florentine School], which I have loved for many years. It has, to my mind, the quality I was seeking to bring to my own work. It is the moment held in time, as if you are aware of before and after, as if a film had stopped on a single frame, and you are aware, in that instant, of the emotion of all time. This is very difficult to explain. It's what I still try to do now, because I think it is everything in painting pictures, and I look for it always. To isolate in time and space things that would normally disappear under the awful impact of other values. I wanted to pin down a moment, make it go on living, I wanted to be particular and yet general. I wanted to be excessive and yet modest. I wanted the picture to contain all my feelings and thoughts, happy thoughts as well as sad, full of waking dreams and erotic fancies. I wanted the painting to be of this world and of the world of daydreams.

'All the while I was working on this picture, workmen were in the house, and everywhere was very uncomfortable and cold. I worked in one tiny room at the top of the house three or four days a week, drawing and redrawing the composition for the painting until everything seemed to be in its correct order. Everything in the picture is taken from near my house in Devizes and rearranged into its right place. I changed everything I used in the picture in order to increase the mystery and wonder I felt all around me in this magic place.

'I was very much in love with the two girls, and I tried to paint them beautifully and in strong sunlight, so they would know how much I loved them, as if they were being blessed by the sun in the clear, early morning air. The sky has patches of “mackerel” sky which forecast rain and hence foreboding, but it's a very hopeful picture and only slightly disquieting because I was discovering all about Wiltshire (but not so much about women).'

Inshaw made a small study in oil for this picture (no.20 in his 1978 Brighton exhibition) and three pencil drawings (nos.50 and 51 in the same exhibition, and a further one not in the exhibition which is owned by the Sunderland Art Gallery).

'The Badminton Game’ is one of several pictures painted soon after his move to Wiltshire which were inspired partly by his discovery of Thomas Hardy. The others include ‘She did not turn’ 1974 and ‘Presentiment’ 1973–8.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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