Duncan ShanksWanderer

Wanderer – Winterreise

A song cycle by Franz Schubert to 24 poems by Wilhelm Muller

In the first part of the cycle the singer sees his distress at his lost love mirrored in the winter landscape, while the second part takes his mind into the darker world of dreams and nightmares.

For years I have been haunted by Schubert’s song cycle. Written at the end of his short life, the composer found in Muller’s sequence of poems, words and images which echoed his own movement and from them created his last and greatest song cycle.

I too recognised in Muller’s portrayal of a man in a winter landscape, images which I had been drawing for years as I wandered through my own landscape, but it was only in the last year that I made the connection between these images and the song cycle.

I have always found a single painting inadequate to express my ideas on the transient natural world around me and have preferred to show a sequence of related paintings around the central theme, like a musical set of variations or as in this group, a song cycle. The was never my intention to illustrate poems Schubert’s music has coloured many of my winter paintings and I find myself taking on the persona of the solitary wanderer, drawing him in the landscapes that he might have seen on his travels in sun and snowfall.

Nature and music have been my lifelong passions. Combining them and finding equivalents in paint for them is my continuing challenge and thrill.