35 Saltoun Street, Glasgow, photographed at dusk (see here)
Now that the clocks have gone back, the sky is already beginning to look different at dusk. Maybe it's my imagination, but a train journey to London early yesterday evening as the light was fading was definitely much more atmospheric than it would have been at the same time last week. The sky was more richly coloured with gold and violet, the shadows were longer, and the depths darker; this is the hour for a walk or bus or train journey through towns and cities, past houses and flats where the lights are on but the curtains not yet closed.
The glimpses of softly lit interiors and scenes of domesticity are immensely reassuring and intriguing which is why I love the painting below, by Avril Paton, who spent six months painting 35 Saltoun Street as she saw it at dusk just after snow had fallen one January evening. This incredibly popular painting is large and fascinating, and really needs to be seen at the Kelvingrove to be appreciated fully. Every window, every room contains a story so it's like an adult version of the Richard Scarry book my brother and I adored when we were little. People stand for ages looking at the painting, postcards and reproductions fly off the shelves, and yet the cognoscenti dismiss it probably because of its 'humble particularity', as Ian Jack puts in.
Windows in the West (1993) Avril Paton (in Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow)
Of course, it's exactly this humble particularity that appeals to so many who also enjoy looking into bright, warm, cosy, snug dwellings on 'softly dark, and darkly pure' walks and journeys. It has universal appeal: who hasn't wondered what's going on inside the rooms seen for a moment, imagined blessed contentment and mini dramas, and wanted to swap places if only for an evening?
This is the hour.
[The post title is from the poem by Byron]