So, well, I'm in the middle of a very challenging week away. The most positive thing I can say is that I'm finding out a lot about myself, both good and bad, the ways in which I've grown kinder or more resilient with age and the ways in which, oh dear, I haven't grown at all. Getting to know yourself better is never wasted, I suppose.
Amidst this difficult time, a break for art. The balm of beauty, of aesthetic pleasure and surprise. A welcome move away from the domain of words - for the challenging stuff is all about words. The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts is a dream come true. Based on the collection of wealthy patrons of the arts Robert and Lisa Sainsbury and encompassing ancient and modern works from most parts of the world, what unites it is a clear aesthetic. "...works of art", Robert Sainsbury once said, "...have appealed to me irrespective of period or style... my personal reaction to any work of art is mainly sensual. Intuition largely taking the place of intellect." This is very evident in the collection, and I love it! It gives permission to look first at form and colour, to compare, contrast and connect first on that basis. It doesn't make you less interested in facts, in history or context, but it does open the field of perception in hugely satisfying ways.
Though it feels like a refuge from the horror words have been opening up for me, none of this seems irrelevant to the rest of the week's experience because the collection is overwhelmingly figurative and, feeling at such a loss, so undermined, I find myself drinking in human shapes, depictions of the personhood I have felt slipping away in a situation where I just don't know what to do. I look and look at all these figures, all these faces, from near and far, from down the ages and much closer to my own time, faces in every state of peace and war, private and public, broken and whole, decaying and only half born, and I recognise myself and am strangely comforted.
What a fascinating collection of faces in art! I enjoy reading about your reactions and feelings about these.
I hope your week will turn out to be worthwhile and helpful for you in many ways.
I love this collage so much. A reminder of how human we are, each unique and precious even if not made of gold!!
Such closely observed faces, each with their own viewpoint on the universe.
What a wonderful collage of portraits - a tribute to the best of the human spirit, amid all the stories of strife and war! There was a fascinating exhibition about ten years ago at the British Museum, London, of portraits from Roman Egypt, faces painted on the covering of mummies. Walking into the exhibition was like coming face to face with individuals of c. 100 and 200 AD. You can see some of them if you google "Roman Egypt mummy portraits" - Search Images. They're like one on your collage - second row, second on the right.
Hope you manage to surface soon into better things.
Jean, hope your week smooths out and you come out the other side of your ordeal feeling it was worth it. Your face photos are fascinating. Thank you for sharing.
oh dear Jean, where are you? writing/ meditation retreat comes to mind... hang in there and tell us all about it afterwards. The faces are great. I find them comforting too.
Interesting what you say about words. I've always been a word junkie of a sort but this year my Mum died and I've not been getting on well with words at all. Somehow they're all wrong...and there are so many of them...and they've all been used so much. Find myself much happier just looking at leaves or something.
I didn't want to leave these photos on the blog for long, for copyright reasons. They can still be accessed through the post above.
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