Thursday, 26 January 2017

Great Masters? Painting in motion.

I was a little reluctant to write on this week's theme.  I have not studied art to a great extent.  Oh I have been to Tate Liverpool to see a Jackson Pollock exhibition and spent a couple of hours in The National Portrait Gallery on a weekend in London but static art is not really my thing.  I do not often seek it out.

I know a little of art history and particularly enjoyed two runs of a TV series, Italy Unpacked and Sicily Unpacked, in which Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli explore the culture and cuisine of those cultural paradises. Watching the series, I felt that art came to life in the telling of great stories and in fact one episode, set in Livorno was the inspiration for our Walking on Wyre project in 2014.  You see, they read a poem by Shelly, looking out at the view from the same piece of coastline about which the poem was written. Poetry is better read this way - in place.

I was uninspired by the movie Mr Turner, grumpy bugger but then standing painting stormy landscapes must have been a cold, lonely profession.  The Girl with the Pearl earing was more my cup of tea. I must confess to loving the portrait and being in complete awe of Vermeer. I was also thrilled to discover recently that Gustav Klimt completely changed his creative style after visiting Venice and Ravenna, where he fell in love with the golden mosaics.

In 1983, I travelled with a friend who was working in Glasgow and went off for a day to Pollock Park to see the Burrell Collection. I saw three Degas paintings and knew instantly that he was my kind of artist. He painted dancers in real life situations.  They were fastening their ballet shoes, sitting in the dressing room or practising at the barre.  I saw the reality and movement in his brushstrokes and pastels. I was sold.  On a later visit to Tate Liverpool, I encountered his statuette, Little Ballerina. She is delightful. The Old Masters are not for me.  I am a performance artist.  Although for almost 20 years, I didn't have chance to really dance, movement to music is my raison d'etre. Degas is the only artist who really understood how that feels.

Recently a friend told me that whenever she went to the ballet, she would experience physical pain just watching the performance and that since she started to sing with our opera chorus and take clarinet lessons that the pain has gone away.  I understood what she meant.  When my competitive dance career ended, I tried to watch the British Open Championships at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool.  It was the most painful experience of my life.  Watching others dance and not being able to share their joy was excruciating. I walked away in tears. I didn't go to watch for another twenty years... then one night...I had a dream.

In dreams

In the chasm of deep sorrow
In the bleakest, endless night
When the shadows crept beside me
And blackout curtains stole the light
When days were filled with tears
When laughter drained through time
And anguish filled each waking hour
Then only sleep was mine.

In dreams a shard came seeping
In dreams my soul walked free
The spirits of my brightness
Shone themselves on me.
I stood upon the balcony above The Empress floor
And music from the bandstand came to my ears once more.
Then a power from inside my very core
Filled me up and I began to lift, to fly,
to soar above the heads that waltzed below.
Beneath the high domed ceiling
I swirled between the chandeliers
What an amazing feeling
Freud said that flying dreams
are symptoms of depression.
Subconscious wish fulfilment:
They release us from suppression
Yet I believe that in my sleep I really travelled there
My soul was really flying,
really dancing through the air.

The setting of my night time flight
awoke me from my trance
for zombie like my life had been since I forgot to dance
It taught me that if you suppress  the will to be yourself
then it will rise in dreams
Your soul has wings to stretch,
it screams.

For dance was once my own true love,
and then my heart was free,
In dreams the shackles of my emptiness released
In dreams the love of life forgotten, rediscovered me.

Thank you for reading.  Adele