Although my installation is going to be on display at Cromford Mill during the Discovery Days Festival (26th Oct – 3rd Nov), which is scary yet exciting in equal measures, I have to admit to a certain lack of inspiration with regards to anything new. Whether this is because I had everthing mapped out i.e. Foundation course followed by Degree and suddenly that’s finished, or whether it is just a natural hiatus I don’t know…
During my recent visit to the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield however, I happened across these words by John Ruskin, the nineteenth century art critic, watercolourist, philanthropist and social thinker.
“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, philosophy and religion all in one.”
This really made me think about what it means to be an artist – to see something, whether that be the natural world around us, a social injustice, a concept or whatever, and about the way we try to portray it, the way we get our thoughts or our message across in a way that others can understand.
Next to the quote above was another by Ruskin:
… found myself lying on the bank of a cart-road in the sand, with no prospect whatever but that small aspen tree against the blue sky. Languidly, but not idly, I began to draw it; and as I drew, the languor passed away: the beautiful lines insisted on being traced,—without weariness. More and more beautiful they became, as each rose out of the rest, and took its place in the air. With wonder increasing every instant, I saw that they “composed” themselves, by finer laws than any known of men. At last, the tree was there, and everything that I had thought before about trees, nowhere.
This quote has inspired me to get out and really see, not just look, at what’s around me. It also reminded me of the beauty of drawing and how, when you are really focused on your subject, everthing else fades into insignificance…you begin to see.