The imprint of the supernatural upon nature would be of special importance to the loose knit and somewhat haphazard grouping of British artists and writers known as the Neo-Romantics (and as Dr David Mellor has described in his 1987 exhibition and survey volume, A Paradise Lost: The Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain,1935–55, Neo-Romanticism also extended to film and photography, and even Nigel Kneale’s television drama series Quatermass). A precursor to the Neo-Romantic sensibility can be found in the art and writings of Paul Nash.
Nash maintains a poised course between the known world and the worlds of the subconscious, the mystical and the supernatural. His concerns are first and foremost those of how, as an artist, he approaches questions of artistic interpretation. But there is often – as for Forster – the presence of other-worldly strangeness and the mysterious. Writing for Country Life magazine in May 1937, Nash addresses the notion of inanimate natural forms possessing, in particular from the Surrealist point of view, their own sentience: “Here, therefore, is an immense background for research and speculation upon the mystery and mysticism of the ‘living inanimate’.” He adds later: “Now it will be obvious to the least observant that a number of forms in Nature have apparently accidental resemblances to human or animal features. Such oddities seem to me only interesting in a quaint way, and are popularly, and quite rightly, mostly attributed to the Devil. To attain personal distinction, an object must show in its lineaments a veritable personality of its own. It may be a stone which looks like a bloodhound, as the Avebury megalith; but it must not have only an amusingly canine look: it must be a thing which is an embodiment, and most surely possesses power.”