This Saturday I managed to drive myself the nearly 1.5hr drive out to a beautifully bushy conference centre where Riverstone (an arts gathering) was held this year.
(Just as a side note: this is the first time in I don’t know how long that I have driven myself somewhere I have not been before and that was this far from home and of that, I am pretty pleased with myself. For most people, not a big deal. For me, a step in a good direction. )
Conferences aren’t my thing at the moment; I don’t sleep well in other beds and being an introvert and I find constant crowds of people slightly overwhelming, but I did appreciate attending for the day. It was great to see how many others were there and enjoying it. It was also great to connect with some people I don’t get to see very often and meet some new people.
I had been asked to lead a workshop / discussion on health and art at Riverstone. I gave it the title of ‘Mystery: health, art & faith’ which was quite appropriate seeing as exactly how it would come together was a little bit of a mystery to me. I went with a few different things prepared with the idea of pulling it together once I was there and got a better idea about who was there. From the feedback I got, it seems that people did appreciate it, which is always nice to hear.
What I want to focus on though, is the sculpture that I took with me. It is a hanging sculpture made out of plaster called ‘Fragile. It’s the first time I’ve ever shown anything like this in such a public setting and I was slightly apprehensive but it did produce some interesting discussion which was my aim. The photos aren’t great. I have tried to enhance them to give a better idea of what it actually is (one day I hope to photograph it in a space with less behind it so that it is much easier to see).
As the creator of this piece I had fairly strong reasons for wanting to make it but it was great to hear what others saw in it. I asked them to sit with it for a while. To recognize their initial feelings towards it, but then to take some time to reflect and see what else it said to them.
I was pleased that some comments indicated people saw something of those feelings I had been trying to portray through it. But it was also very interesting to hear from those who saw something quite different.
It is this process that I really want to encourage here – that of taking time with art. Not just the time that it takes to make them, because they always take time, but to take time as the people who receive them. This act of receiving is our way of being able to participate with the artist and the work and possibly, hopefully, even others and the wider society. Often when we see art we give it an initial glance and that determines exactly what we think and how long we will stay with it. For good art though, there is always the depth for two or three or even many, many more glances.
Let yourself connect with art, even if your initial feeling is that you don’t like it. Let yourself to ‘see’ it. Allow yourself to ‘feel’ it too. Being able to see in this way takes time but each time you will hopefully be rewarded with something different.
It is this slow process where we allow ourselves to see into the art, project ourselves onto the art, that we might be able to begin to recognise our feelings – whether they seem directly related to the art or not. Art elicits feelings and sometimes it can take us a while to work out what our feelings are. Or they might change and even though the work has not changed, we have, and therefore we may be able to see and feel something new. Whatever happens, art is more than the initial glance.
See more images of 'Fragile' here.