Tag Archives: art

Metamorphosis through art and journaling

It’s always a huge privilege to talk to artists about their work. I find it brings their creations to life for me in a way I don’t know that I’d get just by viewing their work in a gallery. I love to understand their process, the questions they begin with, the choices they make and how these present themselves.

Creating art is vital to our humanity, though often in our utilitarian, materialistic worldview it is more convenient, or more practical, to believe otherwise. However I am a fan of art and artists.

As a journal writer I like to reflect on what art has given me whenever I have encountered it. A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed a fabulous conversation with Swindon-based multi-media artist Jill Carter. Her collection Curious Narratives contains drawings, found items, photographs, stitched dolls, journals and items to wear, chronicling her time travelling in Italy, in search of the mythical Sybils, the prophetic women of the Classical world.

The Sybils

Jill’s Sybils, depicted here in pen and ink, are left to right a doll, a healer and a donor. It feels like these are symbols of her process and motivation.

I am intrigued by what dolls, and stitching, mean to Jill. Both are central to her work. Jill tells me that dolls signify our childlike creativity and expression, but she also considers them to be the story keepers, representing ritual and spiritual healing, like religious icons.

After working in social settings Jill describes feeling overwhelmed by people’s stories and how she felt herself being drawn to stitching dolls. I wonder whether this is about containment, holding in that which we cannot process or resolve. It’s like praying, transferring our pain onto an inanimate approximation of ourselves, in the hope of transformation. And the thought occurs to me that this could be why some people find dolls creepy – the artificial, frozen features are the repositories of unidentified fear and suffering.

After the stitching comes the healing. This feels like integration, and is akin for me to journaling. Once we are healed, once we have that clarity, then we can give. It is a metamorphosis of sorts.

Where are you on the journey from stitching to giving? How does your journal and your process help you heal?

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Filed under Art, Creative process, Journal Writing, Reflection

David Bowie is… a creative genius

I’ve written about Bowie before on this blog, and I make no apology for doing so again. For precisely one week ago I visited the David Bowie is exhibition at London’s V&A and was once again transported by his words and music.

David Bowie again

The things that most stand out for me from this exciting showcase of Bowie’s work through sound, video, personal diaries, notes and costume, is the musician’s constant assertion that there is no authorial voice in his creations. Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke and other of his performance personae seem deliberately to negate the identity of the performer. And looking at his most recent album cover there is no image at all of Bowie, just a plain white square over the photo.

There is something important in this negation of the authorial voice. Something which gives greater life and vibrancy to the musical and artistic creation perhaps. Or which simply causes the fans to scream more loudly, so difficult to tolerate is the idea that the person performing is simply a beautiful and tantalising illusion.

The next important thing is Bowie’s approach to song-writing, his chopping up of words and phrases and random rearrangement of them, or his ability to capture lyrics in their entirety, in one take on the page, so the words we read are the words we hear. Surrealist chance or surreal imagination? A combination of the two.

Self-negation, illusion, chance and imagination. A potent mix. A vibrant creative recipe.

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Filed under Creative process

What is art?

I’ve been reading the biography of Marion Milner, and I have been fascinated by some of her observations about art and writing and awareness.

So I was very excited to do a little experiment of my own on my family trip to Paris this weekend.

We hadn’t especially planned to visit the Louvre, I favoured the Musee d’Orsay instead, but when my son expressed an interest in going to see the Mona Lisa, that’s where we decided to head. And I with my resolution to widen my awareness, to allow my attention to be drawn rather than thinking hard about what should be drawing it. For I had learned, whether from Milner or elsewhere, that true art has the power to move us, to make something happen to our inner reality, to make us stop and take notice.

However our first stop was the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre – a perfect place to begin to get a feel for the city – with accordion music in green leafy squares and locals sipping on cool glasses of pale pink wine or tiny cups of treacly espresso.

And there, just beyond La Place du Tertre, sits La Biscuiterie de Montmartre, with the most astonishing of window displays.

Macaroons

Macaroons. With their pastel glossiness, eye-catching arrangement and tempting packages. Heart-stoppingly pretty, and telling of a craft and a dedication generations old.

So there it happened. My attention was drawn, quite accidentally, quite delightfully. By a plate of macaroons. Was this art?

Perhaps. The dusty works of the Louvre had to work doubly hard after this.

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Filed under Perception