ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings
ICARUS DAEDALUS & THE MINOTAUR - LEVIN DOWN
Dimensions: 116.5 X 137.4
Oil on linen
Daedalus conceived to escape from the Labyrinth in Crete with his son, Icarus, by constructing wings and then flying to safety. He built the wings from feathers and wax, and before the two set off he warned Icarus not to fly too low lest his wings touch the waves and get wet, and not too high lest the sun melt the wax. But the young Icarus, overwhelmed by the thrill of flying, did not heed his father’s warning, and flew too close to the sun whereupon the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea. Daedalus escaped to Sicily and Icarus’ body was carried ashore by the current to an island then without a name. Heracles came across the body and recognized it, giving it burial where today there still stands a small rock promontory jutting out into the Aegean Sea, and naming the island and the sea around it after the fallen Icarus.
Levin Down in West Sussex is easy to spot. As you come over the ridge at Goodwood racecourse it stands alone as a hill covered in natural scrubby grassland. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest; indeed the reason that Levin has so much of its wildlife value still intact is hinted at in the name, which is derived from ‘Leave-Alone Hill’, meaning that the land was too steep for the plough or other intensive agriculture.