"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; "And round about the prow she wrote..."

The Lady of Shalott by J W Waterhouse.
When I am not busy doing prep for a writing project I tend to spend some of my evenings in quiet contemplation of other art forms in order to boost my creativity. Sometimes I watch a ballet DVD, sometimes I read a book of poetry or quotations.  Often I just ponder on a piece of art work by one of my favorite artists; this could be a modern artist such as Anne Sudworth or Victoria Frances; or one of the Romantic Pre-Raphaelite artists I so much admire.

Tonight it is The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse. I love this painting, not only for its own sake and for the beautiful poem it represents, but for the very personal memory it evokes. Some years ago when I was in Scotland, I wrote a love message for my soldier friend on the prow of his rowing boat, using red nail polish. He had already returned to barracks and I wanted to leave him a little reminder of our time together. He loved it.  This picture, together with the line in Tennyson's poem "And round about the prow she wrote 'The Lady of Shalott' " reminds me of that moment.  

It seems strange to me now to realize that so many of the prints that are framed in my home are actually very subtle reminders of events that happened years ago.  I am not a big one for keeping photographs out on display, yet it seems that my subconscious found a way to record moments of my life for me anyway, through the fine art prints I chose to hang in my house.  It isn't just the Lady of Shalott that has a special meaning for me, but other prints I own too like The Meeting on the Turret Stair by Frederick Burton; La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Sir Frank Dicksee;  The End of the Song and The Accolade both by Edmund Blair Leighton. All these prints have hung in my bedroom for years and each one seems to represent a  special moment from my past. 

How very wonderful it is that Art can speak to us in such a manner, even when we are too stubborn or too busy to hear it. How amazing it is that the subconscious can find such delicate and tenuous ways to hold onto a memory, keeping it safe, allowing us to relive it again when the time is right.

I have discovered that there is truth to the saying  'A picture paints a thousand words' .   It makes me wonder why we are drawn to some paintings and not others; Rosetti  moves me while Picasso leaves me cold.  Pictures speak directly to our subconscience; this is the reason why mood boards are so effective in creativity.  The artwork you choose to surround yourself with isn't there by a happy accident.  It is there because on a deep level it expresses something about you.  Either it reminds you of something or it influences and enlivens you in some way.

Pondering on a piece of art is a fantastic way to feel more inspired.  You needn't buy large expensive prints; you can pick up inexpensive greetings cards with fine art images, or calendars, or books of the collected works of a particular artist you admire. Or search an artist's name on Pintrest tonight.  It is great for a writer to immerse themselves in a completely different form of artistry and creativity. I recommend viewing art cards etc by the soft shadowy light of candle flames or small lamps as this really helps to bring the artwork to life.

I always try to make a night of artistic pondering into a fun event - it is like a date with the artist!  Tonight as I ponder The Lady of Shalott and write this blog post, I am playing the beautiful music of Laura Wright 'The Last Rose of Summer' , enjoying a glass of white wine and burning a cinnamon and mulled wine scented candle.  It is dark and rainy outside. Inside the candles glow on the tragic tear filled eyes of Elaine as she sits in the boat, mourning her lost lover Lancelot and the life she will never have with him. All the romantic prints around my room have also come to life in the candle glow; memories playing out upon the walls; love sonnets hidden in the sound of  the brush strokes of long ago...

"Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat
And round about the prow she wrote..."
Ahhh, but that's my secret! ;-)

"There she weaves by night and day; a magic web of colours gay..."
Quotations taken from The Lady of Shalott by Alfred ,Lord Tennyson 

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