In the Stillness of Time
Nicola McCartney ‘Galleries' Magazine
Philip Ciolina’s aptly titled autumnal exhibition of rose studies ,’In the Stillness of Time’
was inspired by T.S Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton and documents the flower from bud to bare and
petal-less, reminding us of the seasons and cycle of life.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Ciolina has always worked on a small scale, creating
an intimacy between subject and viewer and this helps contribute to the sense of isolation
and melancholy found in works such as Autumn Rose , conveying nature’s fragility and decay.
Using mixed-media and transparent layers of paper , reminiscent of petals themselves, his light
touch is just about discernible, as if not wanting to interfere with time’s inevitable toll but merely to
document it. Vases and window sills, hint at man’s hand of death for nature, ominously loom
in pale muted shadows while also reminding us of the joy flora and fauna provides and how we
celebrate it. This complex dichotomy of life and death is exemplified in the juxtaposition between
titles such as ‘Room at Dusk’ and ‘Night Rose’ with the more sprightly ‘Morning Light’ and
‘Into the First World’. ‘In the Stillness of Time’ is a visual poetics of mortality.
Suzanne Dean, Creative Director, Random House Publishers/Vintage Classics
‘Choosing from the magnificent array of talent on display was gruelling but I always had in mind
the need to marry my selection with the evocative work of Robert Frost. Frost was an amazing poet
who we had decided could be a really interesting commission for the winner of this part of the competition.
Philip Ciolina’s work has a poignancy , profundity and powerful sense of place and I wanted to find an artist
that could capture some of this to adorn the book cover.’
The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition
VINTAGE CLASSICS PRIZE FOR COVER ART for ‘The White Rose’
Frank Whitford , Art Critic, Sunday Times, Culture
‘Delicate, exquisite, evanescent, suggestive; these words are brought in mind by Ciolina’s
painting of a white rose. It almost isn’t there at all.
The continuous drawing, re drawing and layering\of translucent white on white, and off-whites,
creates an almost ghostly image. Ciolina explains; “With a rose, there is a mysterious and unpredictable
moment when it is fully open and has nothing more to reveal. The layers are unfurled.
There is a stillness and silence before the inevitability of collapse and decay.
This rose did not belong to those of early summer, but was discovered later in the year, a survivor on a
bush next to a neglected building Vintage, (part of Random House) knew what they wanted.
The painting is going straight onto the cover of a collection of Robert Frost’s poems.