Last night I sat down to watch ‘Anselm Kiefer/ Imagining the Future’, part of the ‘Imagine’ series for the BBC. I knew a little about Kiefer’s work and have discussed him in brief with students over the past few years. However, the programme brought home to me the sheer ferocity of one man’s creative spirit. Painter, sculptor and installation artist, Kiefer has filled his world with paintings like churches, caves, caverns and tunnels deep beneath green French fields; life-size planes crashing into fields of dead sunflowers and swimming pools filled with mysterious floating continents.
A Kiefer painting for me is rather like a patch of land. He adds and adds to its surface, encrusting it with paint, dirt, sand, lead, scrap metal, ash, straw and clay; then he takes away, digging back into it as if he were uncovering the past and the traces left behind by time and experience.
Sometimes I feel my own creative energy inside myself – sometimes it feels like it won’t fit and it’s uncomfortable and I have to find ways to disperse it – it has to fit around my life, my life shapes it. As I was watching, my little boy H escaped from bed. He asked me what the programme was about. I told him it was about an artist just like him and he cuddled closer to watch. I told him the gentlemen we were watching was like him too in that he is unable to stop making. Every day H brings home from school bags of paper filled with drawings and sculptures, visual representations of the stories going off like fireworks in his head. I posed him the question that in 65 years’ time would he like Kiefer, still unable to stop? Would H’s creativity continue as a force to shape his life, would his life shape it or would it melt away like his childhood? The Kiefer film left me in awe, it left me quiet and thoughtful, but mostly it left me reassured. Our creativity, however it manifests itself, is a force just like gravity. When it moves inside me, it’s OK: there is nothing to fear.
I am now the proud owner of this beautiful painting by Mary Jane Orley. There are few objects that I’ve bought that have seemed such a thoroughly good idea and that have ended up giving me so much pleasure. The painting is called ‘Encounter’ and formed part of Mary Jane’s beautiful show at The Gate House Gallery in Guernsey last month. It is now hanging in my front room above a rarely used television and it shines out across the room and throughout the house, a beacon of the positive and beautiful, a shimmering blast of colour and energy; it quite simply uplifts me. It felt good buying it. I am often saddened when so many people sniff at actually putting their hand in their pocket and buying art. There is at times a mistrust towards what artists do and many feel that spending a few hundred pounds on a piece of art that will last a lifetime and beyond is a huge expenditure whilst feeling quite comfortable paying thousands for a television that will be obsolete in a few short years.
This summer our television goes away but the painting stays put. It will share my lifetime and no doubt many others. I can look into it and see anything I want – it takes me on a journey beneath the sea and through the clouds. I can actually go there. There are few television sets that can boast the same. This painting is a Mary Jane Orley energy injection and I am so very, very glad I get to enjoy it every day.
Raw, spellbinding, elegant: this book is a fairytale enthusiast’s dream. Based on the Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson, it leads us down dark corridors and through secret mazes to a place between waking and sleeping. I loved it so and the bright red cherries on the cake are the wonderful illustrations by David Roberts.
I have been looking for ideas for a Christmas exhibition based on angels. The other day I noticed one had been looking in at my window. My husband’s grandmother has a lovely saying hanging in the kitchen of her wonderfully busy Norfolk home… ‘Be kind to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.’
The goldfish bowl sculpture studio Falmouth College of Arts June 2000 was the setting for my favourite piece of the graduating class of 2000’s Fine Art degree show. Laid out across the painted floor, my friend Pete Root’s miniature metal city glittered in the light; built entirely from metal tacks carefully laid one against another: it was a magical sight. Figurative and abstract at the same time, tiny, sprawling, mysterious, dark and extremely beautiful, I will never forget it. Pete was a lovely person, extremely funny and very, very talented. He helped me sell my first painting and I admired him not only as an artist but as a person too. Pete and his beautiful girlfriend and fellow artist Mary Thompson were tragically killed in Thailand whilst cycling around the world earlier this year. Their lives were brave and spectacular and their memory and the inspiration they gave and give to so many lives on.