Sunday, 21 October 2007

The Engaging Vision

"Beauty reaches far beyond art, music and literature, for it is characteristic of the natural world – creation. For beauty, like truth and like goodness, has its origin in God. So we mustn’t think of beauty as merely belonging to objects in the world, as if beauty were a quality like size or yellowness: beauty is in the relationship between the object and the person who comes into contact with it. The world is 'haunted' by the presence of God and we are the ones who register that presence. In John Ruskin’s expression, we are touched by the sublime, and our reaction is to be moved and thrilled by it". Peter Mullen on beauty.

In his extensive study of the subject of beauty, Umberto Eco noted that 'something beautiful is something that would make us happy, but it inherently remains beautiful even if it continues to belong to someone else'. I value that truth every time I find myself engaging with one of life's rich marvels (there's a great deal to unpack in that thought).

Yesterday, a friend invited me to accompany them on a trip to visit a superb local example of a cultivated country garden. The autumn colours were at their very best, and I found myself feasting on the dazzling visual array that nature exudes in this season, which kept my camera very busy.

Today, I had the opportunity to create some new work with a local model, and I found myself again amazed at how light and form merged in such a serene manner that I encountered moments where I was physically shaking from the sheer grace, joy and elegance of what was unfolding before me. At such times, it becomes the most natural thing in the world to allow such a 'breath' to inhabit, to guide your artistry, to encounter and touch a reality higher than us which makes us so truly wealthy.

In His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to look at the creation and to learn much about how God cares for us, furnishing us not just with the requirements of our physical existence, but with an understanding that allows us to satiate a much deeper and crucial need - an encounter and a union to the one who gives all of life vital place and significance.

Beauty is ultimately about recognising the image of the one who is found in every moment that grants us such a taste of that wonder.

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