I grew up liking Constable’s paintings. Constable, that very English painter, beloved of the makers of chocolate boxes.
Later, when I was looking at this painting, The Vale Of Dedham, I noticed a small figure in the foreground. Probably a figure of a woman, but too indistinct to be sure. The figure is seated on the ground, intent on something in its hands. By the figure there is a cooking pot on a trestle of branches. And close by is a rough shelter.
In the distance, life is being lived. There are two boats, nice houses, a village and a church tower. But right up close is a poor person, on the margins, hanging on to the edge. What connections does this person have? How much interaction with other human beings does this person have access to? Of course, the figure has few responsibilities other than to forage for enough to keep alive. But what happens when clothes wear through, when shoes wear out, when winter comes?