As simplistic as it sounds, the ways in which we experience life can often be the same as the ways in which we experience art; through emotion, depth, layers, movement, scale, texture, contrast and colour - to name a few. It is not just our experience of nature, but our reflection and documentation of and response to that experience which can create a common pool from which we can know ourselves, each other and the world we are part of.
A few years ago, while searching for a visual thread of a common humanity, I created a series of paintings inspired by nature-related music from different cultures. Using the different rhythms and sounds to make marks and add colour, I listened to South Asian and European music I was familiar with, as well as Japanese music which I had not heard before. Although I could identify different moods the paintings lent themselves to, I couldn’t pinpoint a specific human thread. Ultimately, it seemed to me that what united the paintings was that they were a visual response to an engagement with a creative experience.
In my recent series of paintings, 'Inside the Great Circle' I explored the mid-point of movement in natural phenomena such as Stillness and Speed, Ascending and Descending, and Flow and Ebb. It was challenging to try and capture the essence of this, and using some kind of animation in the future might be an option. What I did have a sense of though, was a sense of belonging. By tracing the physical movement through my own creative gestures, I was enacting, recreating and living the phenomena simultaneously. This is what creativity offers us, through language, visuals, ideas and real and imagined experience; we have the opportunity to be part of a greater whole.
As human beings, on one level we are also matter, moving through time and space in our own life cycles. As we move, we notice things, give them a name and become aware of how they are also situated and so our stories about them emerge. These stories are as much about ourselves and the things we have named. However there are times when I don't notice or choose to ignore things as they make me uneasy, which may well be those very things that other people take account of. Perhaps looking for comfort and risk in this common pool of creative and life experience, we can find overlap and a sense of community.
Published on 4 January 2021