a new book by Garry Kennard

with a preface by Paul Broks

The drawings in this book were prompted by the final lines of the last canto of Dante’s Divine Comedy. These words describe the vision that Dante experiences at end of his journey through hell, purgatory and paradise. They tell of his witnessing the creative power at the heart of creation. In this he sees a great circling of reflected spheres and rainbows and, somehow, the human image within it all.

Could a vision like this be made visible with a pen and some paper? Starting with simple circling marks on a blank page Kennard began to see what would appear if he worked without plan or previous sketches, reacting to and developing the marks as they appeared.

The result is an extraordinary sequence of images, some highly disturbing, some tinged with humour and affection. These have been paired with quotations from Dante’s text, sometimes making distinct resonances, at other times creating discords.

The structure of the book echoes Dante’s in that it contains one hundred images (the number of cantos in the Divine Comedy) and is divided into three parts (as in hell, purgatory and paradise). It does not illustrate the original text in any direct way but sets up a parallel visual and emotional experience of a powerful and utterly unique kind.

For I therein, methought, in its own hue
Beheld our image painted: steadfastly
I therefore por’d upon the view.

The book is available to buy at £18 (plus £3 postage and packing)

Please contact Garry Kennard at


Comments on Circlings

In his introduction I think Paul Broks describes the book as “entrancing” – which nails it perfectly. The strange, dream-like drawings and beautifully counterpoised quotations from Dante are quietly mesmerizing. Huge congratulations on a magnificently original and deeply satisfying piece of work. The interplay of word and image reminded me frequently of Blake; and the slightly austere finely-worked drawings occasionally called to mind some of the works on paper that I saw recently in the “Young Rembrandt” exhibition at the Ashmolean. High praise indeed! I loved the minimalism and restraint of the images, quietly working a huge set of variations within very tightly defined parameters. And the “narrative” provided by the Divine Comedy intensified the sense of gradual progression through their wholly unworldly mental space.

Colin Ludlow. Writer and TV producer


The book works incredibly well. As you know, there are real problems “illustrating” the DC, especially Paradiso, given the cosmic abstraction. The most effective visual relations of Inferno are to my mind the least literal, eg. Rauschenberg and Phillips. Of the earlier ‘illustrators”, Botticelli’s drawn abstractions in the Paradiso are the most notable concept. And there is Blake of course. Your sense of half-seen shapes/figures emerging and sinking in the circling chaos is novel and effective. I particularly liked the later ones in the Paradiso with their central glare.

Professor Martin Kemp. Emeritus Professor of the History of Art
Trinity College, Oxford


As I went through the book, looking for the resonances between the left and right pages and digesting the more obvious connections, I found myself constantly challenged to rethink everything.  With your work I found myself really arguing with the material. How would I have reacted to that text? With what sort of drawing would I have responded to it?   I expected to relax and enjoy the book.  I ended up thinking about the deeper significances evoked.  I like Paul’s remark that the drawings seem to have ‘thought themselves into shape’. I just wanted to join in! So thank you for a beautiful book.  I will continue to enjoy it and share it with others. And all the time I will be thinking that now I understand much better the drives that inspired your highly personal study of art and the brain. Congratulations and best wishes.

John Onians, FSA, Professor Emeritus of World Art at the University of East Anglia


I received your book ‘Circlings’ today. Many thanks. An excellent publication, it resonated deeply.

Richard Bright. Editor ‘Interalia’ magazine.


I’ll treasure the book.  It looks good and feels good. The design scheme, which you clearly explain, works a treat. I think it was a crucial decision to re-write Cary. Your style is far better than his and clarity is of the essence. The final sequence, approximately a visual diminuendo, is quite emotional, as Vinnie Jones would say. I bet Dante was merging with Beatrice.

Mark Adams. Photographer


Your book arrived and I‘ve spent some time with it, with great satisfaction. It’s very all encompassing – rose windows, mandalas, geometry’s joys, but also your figure drawing is a lovely surprise. The book sits on the big kitchen table and gets looked at again and  again.  It warrants coming back to, it gets richer each time. 

Emily Young. Sculptor


Circlings – its such a lovely book and I enjoyed looking at your drawings and reading it, with its links between dream and image, waking, imagination, magic and myth while responding to Dante’s Divine Comedy.  I liked yours and Paul’s texts too. 

Kate Dicker. Painter and printmaker


It’s absolutely gorgeous! I couldn’t really imagine it, and didn’t realise it would be a (physically) big book, but the size, and beautiful simplicity of the layout, makes it a wonderful object even without studying each image. And when you do so much leaps out – I have seen many of them before but never really looked at them for long enough for them to come alive and reveal themselves.

Rita Carter. Writer.


A quick note to let you know that the book arrived today and I think it works beautifully. Proud to be a part of it. 

Paul Broks. Neuropsychologist and author


Well what a triumph – I got dizzy looking at all the circlings. What a huge amount of work. It is such a pleasure to look through it slowly, page by page. Very contemplative. I will delve into it more over the next few weeks. Congratulations.

Susan Aldworth. Artist. 


I have jotted down a few impressions and won’t attempt to make them coherent but will just pass them on. I loved your focus on the ‘circlings’, the sphere used throughout with all its associations of earth, sun/vision, time, eternity, the planetary sense of them interlocking, the effect of a rose stained glass window without colour, light within darkness that reveals itself with longer/closer looking;  the figures often immensely expressive, faces and eyes, expressions of anguish and joy, the human figure alone and figures coupled or overlapping, the sense that the context is spherical/abstract but it holds the human – love being ‘the prime mover ‘as in Dante’s work. Finally the vision, the intense spheres of light, and finally the wheeling fragments of the light the poet’s imagination cannot quite reach in its entirety. It was a great experience, Garry, thank you, and congratulations on a very serious enterprise.  

Caroline Maldonado. Poet and translator.

Published in 2020 by

GV Art Limited

4 Bramber Court, London, W14 9PW (postal only)

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