Saturday, 1 September 2007

For Art's Sake?

"The truth is that 'culture' - the cultivation of creation - is natural;
it is native to the nature of Adam & Eve in the garden...
The fact is that God's grace can enter into the very juices of our artistic performance".

Calvin Seerveld - Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves.

Seeking to be involved in the arts can be a pretty sobering, 'reigning in' experience. This week, for example, I visited a joint exhibition by two local artists I know and found myself astonished at the creativity and synchronicity expressed in the works of mixed mediums. I then viewed a selection of 'holiday snaps' by one of the artists recently taken in France, and was just stunned at the acute and fascinating observations she had made of very common objects, capturing them so well and making you realize just how much you miss in the very fabric of the world which surrounds us. It is so clearly all about focus - about teaching ourselves to 'see' deeper and clearer, and using that perception to inspire how we employ our bodies and skills to convey that elegance.

If I'm honest, I'd say that my own failing is that I become too entwined in beauty and thereby depreciate the techniques required to capture things well, but that seems a small price to pay when we can engage in this 'dance' with creation, and hopefully, the one behind this work.

One of my favourite sculptures stands at the front of broadcasting house in London. Created by Eric Gill, it is commonly referred to as a depiction of Shakespeare's Prospero and Ariel from the Tempest, but there is no doubt more going on here. The sculpture depicts two figures - an elderly but kind 'father' stands behind a naked male child, who clearly has 'marks' in his hands and feet.
Both of them are standing on a globe and hidden away from our eyes, behind the back of the elder man, is a depiction of a beautiful woman.
The whole scene for me is a sublime depiction of John 3:16 - it provides a visual reference that encapsulates the 'glory' of what Christ was seeking to convey in that familiar statement, and it makes me really stop every time I see it, reminding me of something profound.

Good art always gives us a moment of pause ('selah', as it says in the Psalms). It's enriching because it allows us to see that all of life is connected to a richer, deeper reality.

It's great to be involved in this world, and even if we never quite reach the place of creating something that may cause others that moment of pause, I know that my own activity here has often conveyed that 'deeper truth' to at least one person - me!

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