'Naked Clay is an intimate response to the paintings of Lucian Freud—"the great amplifier of twentieth century figurative art," as the critic Sebastian Smee has written. With an astonishing touch for individual paintings, and for the connections between seeing and touching, Hill begins his own process of amplification with poems arising out of the "Flemish" portraits and life-studies of Freud's early work, those exacting acts of surveillance that made such an impression on London half a century ago. The poems then move, in keeping with Freud's shift of style, into the matters of flesh, nakedness and performance with which the painter is still confronting viewers.
'Of Freud's "late style", the painter Frank Auerbach wrote that it has "no safety net of manner." This might be said of Hill's engagement with Freud's incomparably candid treatment of his ailing mother, his naked daughters, his male and female friends, each of them tenderly and shockingly rendered in all their "creatureliness". The poems are as urgent as the paintings, and taken together they constitute an essay on the ambiguous gifts from a painter of such mortal, material presences.
'Barry Hill has created a unique space for the senses and the intellect to be prompted, explored and disturbed.' (From the publisher's website.)