Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Art in times of trouble

That, or something similar was the title of a TV programme I watched tonight while I enjoyed a simple supper of omelette and chunky potato fries (rustic oven chips to my Brit audience).

It made me think about how I value my eyesight, and how driven my own world is by the visual image, especially since a friend of mine is losing his sight. I cannot imagine a more visually driven person. Whenever he calls me his first words are usually, ‘Jenny, you just MUST look at this website” He is so disappointed if he happens to catch me away from my PC screen so I can’t instantly respond with equal enthusiasm to what has inspired him, or my PC is on a go slow and I can't get to what he is looking at fast enough.

I cannot imagine how I would respond in the situation that someone said the awful words "You are going blind", but I know I would be angry. Angry that medical science couldn’t intervene to save my sight, but most of all angry that there was so much of the world that I HAVEN’T seen - from places in the UK to active volcanoes in Hawaii, and so many works of art only ever seen as tiny pictures in a book or at best, computer screen sized.

A few years ago, as a birthday treat, my (now estranged) husband took me to an art exhibition.Monet’s paintings were on show in London and such was the enthusiasm to see them, the gallery was open all night. We went in at 1am and for me, time stopped. I had never realised that the canvasses that were so familiar to me were so HUGE. A couple of years later, we visited Monet’s home at Giverny where those paintings were born, and I had the same sense of wonder, all over again.

The art programme I watched showed paintings from miners whose work created over 50 years ago reflected their toil in the mines and their lives above ground. Images of chimneys, yes, and big families, smoky pubs and things you would expect, but also a wonderful one of two men with their racing whippets.

It also showed the paintings that were stored in the same mines during the war while London was being bombed and discussed whether money spent on publicly owned art is a good social investment. In the news this week was the story about paintings previously owned by banks who were bailed out by the Government. Certainly we have the right to see those works, since our taxes saved them from being sold to pay off some of the debts. A free exhibition please.

I'm not putting links to any images in this post. If you have to go and look for them for yourselves, it might make you remember them better.

It was a very different image that inspired and lifted me today. I am helping with my sailing club’s junior training week. A dozen or so youngsters from as young as nine are learning to sail in the sheltered waters of Chichester Harbour. My job today was to drive the club's 21ft launch 'Sinbad' which acted as a ‘mother ship’ and I was helped by Fiona, the mother of two of the children.

She didn’t have a camera on board, but I got some shots on my mobile phone of Eve and Ralph as they zoomed past us in a lively breeze. I realised later that I had just missed the shot I really wanted because Eve turned her head to look at her sail. The sheer joy of achievement in her expression will stay with me for a very long time, as will the happy smiles of the ones who came alongside us with the instructor, and swapped places with others waiting their turn. Those smiles stuck, even after the inevitable upside-down moments.

It is ironic that today’s society is so evil thinking that I can’t share those pictures with you all and really need to delete them after I have transferred them on a memory stick for Fiona, just in case someone wonders why I have them on my phone. What a sad world that I can’t keep them and let them brighten a dark winter day in the future when creeping age and creaky bones have put an end to my own active sailing.


Anonymous said...

Jenny, maybe I live in a different world (well, I do actually *s*), but I don't understand why you have to delete those pictures?

Puzzled Xarah