Sunday, 3 February 2013

Monty, where does the road take us ?

Monty,

I see you have returned to France.

Your film reminded me of my visits to Paris as an art student between 1981-83. It is a city that cannot fail to make an impression with its wide open streets, avenues of trees, the river and public gardens. I particularly remember Versailles with its long canal. At that time I was not aware of having a particular interest in gardens, but the gardens at Versailles were astonishing. I saw them in early morning light, when there were not that many people there. I also remember being intrigued by the garden at the Musee Rodin. Strangely for an art student, it was not the sculpture that caught my attention but the garden with pyramid shaped topiary.

Perhaps what I was responding to was the sense of order, balance and harmony.

It almost feels as though I was meant to visit, and that the encounters I had which were sensually intense, were pre-ordained.

There is one incident, which has great significance only to me perhaps, but which was of such depth that it has stayed with me these last 30 years.

I remember walking from our digs in the Rue du Fauconnier to Notre Dame. It was a few weeks before Christmas, and there was a choir rehearsing. I sat for a long time just absorbing the atmosphere which helped to get me beyond the streams of other tourists and the constant photography of this amazing Gothic building.

I sat and watched a woman arranging flowers on a stand beside the altar, as she was doing so she dropped a rose on the step, I continued to watch as she stepped back and forth looking at the arrangement and almost crushing the rose underfoot. I am a timid person and had very little french, but I felt compelled to get up and show her the fallen blossom. What happened next had an impact on me which she perhaps would never have realised. She picked up the rose, thanked me, smiled and handed it to me.

Such a simple act of kindness, but it had a profound effect, to the point of touching something inside me that I hardly knew was there. I wept, I could not stop, and at that time I just could not work out why.

I never asked or wanted to become involved in spiritual matters, but I did have a sense of something outside of ourselves which I was trying to discover through making drawings and paintings. I suppose the immense grandeur of Paris and its association with art and artists, with revolution and oppression, its history which is tangible, all had its effect upon an impressionable mind.

So where am I now Monty ? I am here in my humble dwelling with coal tip and floods. I realise that I have been influenced by those gardens of 30 years ago. What I have is not Versailles, but to be honest I never wanted anything other than a studio and enough food to survive, I never imagined having even a small garden...but here it is, and here in this hotch potch valley town with its mix of architectural styles and terraces like teeth grimacing from the dark hills, I make a small garden and paint small paintings of the things that captivate me still.









There are days here that still make me sing.

Paul

12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Anne, thank you for your encouragement. x

      Delete
  2. Thanks. I recognize this story. Are these moments of epiphany what we live for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure whether we live for those moments, or those moments live for us. It is like they wait for us, they capture something inside us that cannot be found on the hectic surface of superficiality. It is a good question, and thank you for asking it.

      Delete
  3. What a powerful vignette on your life. Weeping is a strange phenomenon. We weep when we are happy sometimes or in ecstasy. We weep when we are distressed in ourselves. We weep out of empathy for others we know. We weep for those we don't know or for the world. The connection between them all seems to be that when we weep we open ourselves.

    I watched the programme, too, and also went to Versailles when I was very young. Nothing I saw moved or intrigued me. It all felt very laid out in front of you. I think partly that was a consequence of all those birds eye views.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charles, Thank you... yes when we weep we open ourselves. So much of the time we keep things locked up. As for weeping for the world, it causes so much pain to see the tragic and evil things that are happening to people and the environment, that I find I have to switch off, it is overwhelming. Sometimes I weep and other times I feel so angry with our foolishness, my foolishness.

      Versailles was overpowering, but I think that what captured me was the early morning light, with a mist rising from the canal. Later as the sun got higher and more and more people arrived the experience changed. I hold on to the golden memories perhaps !

      Delete
  4. Has anyone told you that this blue text on your background when viewed on the phone gives a real three dimensional illusion?

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a powerful blog. I have had such moments. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I truly believe that it is a universal human experience.

      Delete
  6. Thank you for another beautiful blog. Those small moments are indeed precious. I believe it is when we connect with each other directly and not with our usual masks on. Then it is utterly extraordinary how amazing we truly are underneath all that clutter! What would life be like if we could connect like that all the time? I look forward to your blogs. Little bits of inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Eleanor. Your comment has got me thinking, I believe there is a part of us that is made for those connections, but there is the complication of conscience, guilt, fear, lust, prejudice etc which is the clutter and seems to be so much a part of us as well. Perhaps those moments are windows to the possibility of life without the clutter which is why they are so beautiful and even painful.

      Delete