All posts filed under: inspiration

neon pink sunset | edge of evening

Last night: wonder & knowledge

Running round the nature reserve listening to an interview with Mary Ruefle. Swans on the path with their two nearly grown cygnets, brown feathers still in clumps on their wings. Ruefle the wisest and most thought-provoking of companions. She prefers wonder to knowledge. With wonder, she says, you dwell; once you know something you move on. She would prefer to dwell. Tall daisies — ox-eye? — are fading on their stems. The sky is quilted with clouds. Later this quilt will glow neon pink as the sun drops behind the trees. Ruefle recalls the moment her life changed: age thirteen, lying in the basement of her parents’ house, a cast on her leg, hearing Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ read by her older sister or perhaps reading it to herself from her sister’s college poetry anthology. Whichever way, heard or read, she can still see her sister standing at an ironing board. Later she talks about technology, about how she believes in her right to personal privacy and in the right to decide where she wants to direct her …

Agnes Martin by Gianfranco Gorgoni, 1974 | edge of evening

Agnes Martin

I lived in the present, which was that part of the future you could see. The past floated above my head, like the sun and the moon, visible but never reachable. from ‘Landscape’ by Louise Glück, in the collection Averno   Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not just in the eye. It is in the mind. It is our positive response to life.Agnes Martin, 1989 My paintings have neither objects nor space or time nor anything — no forms. They are light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness, breaking down form.Agnes Martin, 1966 Last Saturday we took the train to London & walked from Waterloo along the South Bank to the Tate to see the beautiful and lucid works in the Agnes Martin exhibition. I’d read that her work doesn’t reproduce well, and now I agree: the subtleties of texture and tiny variations in colour were invisible in the books and prints they were selling outside the exhibition. I think it’s the imperfections in her quest for perfection that make her work so captivating. Now she’s looking down on …

On running

      But now it seems possible that the truth about getting older is that there are fewer and fewer things to make fun of until finally there is nothing you are sure you will never be. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill Ikeep coming back to this line from Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation which seems true to me in oh-so-many ways. The present feels so permanent, and we live in it like it has the solidity of a house when really it’s a flimsy tent. In many ways that’s a terrifying thought,  but it’s a liberating one as well. Because, as Offill suggests, it’s true that we never know what is going to happen to us next in smaller, funnier ways too. Ways that mean that it’s best never to laugh at anyone because one day, not so very long from now, you may be them. I thought running was a suburban affliction of the thirty-something parent. Something highly contagious, like chicken pox, that I’d rather I didn’t catch. I didn’t know that this was …

Making friends with reality

In a way, work is like a love affair. It demands commitment, absorption, and care. The difference is that it is a love affair with oneself, or at least with one’s creative abilities, and with an abstract world of ideas. Learning to Work, Virginia Valian People have a conception, however implicit and unarticulated, of who they ‘really’ are, which I am calling true self and others may call identity […] Some people […] cannot point to a period in their lives in which they were able to act in accord with their true selves. Such people may thus have particular difficulty in trusting their perceptions of their true selves. They impugn their motivation, for example, by thinking, “if it’s so hard for me I must not want to do it.” […] My claim is that people are not wrong about their true selves. A related claim is that to encourage someone to doubt his or her true self is to do them the gravest psychological disservice.Solving a Work Problem, Virginia Valian In planning each weekly …

Risking failure more minor

“Difficultly then, whether of life or of craft, is not a hindrance to an artist.[…] Just as geological pressure transforms ocean sediment to limestone, the pressure of an artist’s concentration goes into the making of any fully realized work. Much of beauty, both in art and in life, is a balancing of the lines of forward-flowing desire with those of resistance — a gnarled tree, the flow of a statue’s draped cloth.” “Leaving the refuge of silence demands the willingness to be seen, to be judged. It demands that we turn away from our desires to please, to fit in, to spare the feelings of those we love, and also from our desire to create a shapeliness that does not reflect how awkward, unfinished, and ambivalent actual experience is. For the writer, the person of public speech, it demands risking the fates of Mandelstam or Horace, Sor Juana or Christopher Smart. Or more likely, risking failure more minor: boredom, triviality, confusion. Risking seeing that we are lesser beings than we had hoped.” Nine Gates: Entering …

Calm Things

[T]he goal is to create a world, a window, a threshold. The goal is to get at something real, pared down, honest, to make a connection, a place in which souls can meet. To make something honest, I have learned, create an illusion. Calm Things by Shawna Lemay For the past six months my evening routine has been made a million times more wonderful by a nightly visit to the poet Shawna Lemay’s blog, Calm Things. I find that transition hard, the shift from nagging about tooth brushing, changing the littlest one, warming milk and singing songs, to being alone for an hour before B gets home. There’s so much action, so much adrenalin, & often more than a little frustration in that last half an hour of my day with children. Frustration that someone won’t put their pyjamas on, or someone else has forgotten that they need to practice the clarinet, or someone else has lost the special toy they can’t sleep without. And then someone is calling me back because they’re thirsty & …

Judith Kerr: ‘You have to make a plan for the day’

“Radio Times: You’re 91. What’s the secret to a long and successful working life? Judith Kerr: You have to make a plan for the day. I get started at 10.30am. At lunchtime, I have a Martini Rosso on ice which keeps me awake in the afternoon. In the evening, I go for an hour’s walk along the Thames. It helps me to think. When I get home, I have a whisky. I’ve done more work since Tom [Judith’s husband, Quatermass screenwriter Thomas Nigel Kneale] died eight years ago than I did before because otherwise there’s this emptiness.” We read a fair number of Mog stories round here, and I keep thinking that T must nearly be ready for When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (which the Radio Times reveals might be adapted by the BBC), so I was really excited to see this year’s Christmas Radio Times cover. But then, just as my brother & I used to as children, T disappeared with it & spent many happy hours poring over the Christmas TV listings. She …

Solitude

“It is in a house that one is alone. Not outside it, but inside. Outside, in the garden, there are birds and cats. […] One does not find solitude, one creates it. Solitude is created alone. I have created it. Because I decided that here was where I should be alone, that I would be alone to write books. It happened this way. I was alone in this house. I shut myself in — of course, I was afraid. And then I began to love it. This house became the house of writing. My books come from this house. From this light as well, and from the garden. From the light reflecting off the pond. It has taken me twenty years to write what I just said.” Marguerite Duras, Writing Still thinking about these words, which I first read a few weeks ago in a car full of sleeping children. Yes, we create our own solitude. Or — and how to stop doing this? — we prevent our own solitude. Of course, I was afraid, …

To wrest a few precise scraps from the void

  “To write: to try meticulously to retain something, to cause something to survive; to wrest a few precise scraps from the void as it grows, to leave somewhere a furrow, a trace, a mark or a few signs.” George Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces I‘ve been looking back through my notebooks for a piece I’m trying to write. Again & again, I’m startled by things that I’d completely forgotten. Rhythms and routines that once seemed they would last forever. A page from 21 February 2010, when the Moose was five days old: ‘How blissfully happy I am, day & night — B talks about what they’ll be like in a couple of years & I cry that now ever has to finish.’ And, beneath it, the quote from George Perec. Two days later: ‘And how it has rained this whole first week of his life & at night as though we are under a tin roof as the comforting heartbeat of drops leaks through the guttering.’ 2 March 2010: ‘The second week …

Barbara Hepworth

  “Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic. For ten years I had passed by with my shopping bags not knowing what lay behind the twenty foot wall…Here was a studio, a yard and garden, where I could work in open air and space.” from Barbara Hepworth — A Pictorial Autobiography Back to St Ives & our magical visit to the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden one late-autumn morning. The light was amazing: winter sun low in the sky, filtering through the foliage and burnishing the bronze. The shadows of leaves playing on stone. And then B showed me the shadows the sculptures cast on other elements of themselves.   Hepworth bought Trewyn Studio in 1949 and lived and worked there from 1950 until her death in 1975. The studio leads directly into the garden, which she gradually filled with her work. The parish church & sea are just visible over the garden wall. And, everywhere you look: green & Hepworth’s sculptures. Bamboo, palm trees; a rose, fuchsias, Japanese anemones; a small pond; …