Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Signalling the end of summer

Art proposals 

There's never just one deadline, there are several and they arrive at the same time. Augh. It's been a mad rush to submit art proposals. I've done two now, and one more to go. Sometimes when a proposal of mine is turned down, I feel as though I had busted my gut for nothing. But then I think of it this way: an artist doesn't lose as much money when a proposal is turned down as, say, the amount of money architects lose when they don't secure the tender for a project. And if I just keep at it, someone will give me a chance eventually. I'm a believer!

Two poems about the end of summer

I would like to share with you two poems by two very different New Zealand writers. The first, March and Mrs Simpson by Brian Turner, combines the atmosphere of cool early autumn nights with the author's favourite pastime, fishing. "Mrs Simpson" (I had to google it) is the name of a trout fly, those colour feathery things to lure fish at the ends of fishing lines. "The King was lured by the latter" refers, of course, to the incident where King Edward VIII abdicated his throne to marry a Mrs Wallis Simpson. "Ida" refers to the Ida Valley in Central Otago.

March and Mrs Simpson
by Brian Turner

March, and all of a dewy, brisk sudden
the nights have drawn in, and all
that I know by name has finished flowering
weeks ago, so it's autumnal,

though the Ida's mostly still dry
and the dam's as low as it gets
and slummy. The trout sulk by day
and don't begin to move

before eleven. But after that, stars
brilliant and perky above, I toss up
between tying on a Hamill's Killer,
a Fuzzy Wuzzy, a Woolly Bugger

or a Mrs Simpson. The King
was lured by the latter, so Mrs Simpson
it is. And ten minutes later I feel
the tug that says, Works every time.

The second poem is Bidding the lover goodbye by CK Stead. I just love this poem so much. Goodbye, summer!

Bidding the lover goodbye
by CK Stead

Pampas heads
in wind
against the sun
are white flame
at the sky's blue altar.

They are the plumes of horsemen
riding away
over the hill.

Farewell summer!
There will never be another like you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Poem of the week: Achilles

Carol Ann Duffy is doing her British Poet Laureate thing again. She's hit the news after penning her latest poem titled Achilles. It's about David Beckham's heel injury. I think it's remarkable that a poet can make headlines with a new poem, the way a filmmaker might do with a new project. Perhaps news coverage comes with the Poet Laureate package.

Myth's river - where his mother dipped him, fished him, a slippery golden boy flowed on, his name on its lips.
Without him, it was prophesied, they would not take Troy.
Women hid him, concealed him in girls' sarongs; days of sweetmeats, spices, silver songs...
But when Odysseus came, with an athlete's build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd's roar,
And it was sport, not war, his charmed foot on the ball...
But then his heel, his heel, his heel...
I like how the word "heel" has become a cry at the end, evoking a rocking motion as well. This sounds a bit obvious, but what makes this poem enjoyable for me is the rhythm and internal rhymes (build, shield, battlefield; roar, sport, war...) - and here you can listen to Duffy herself reciting it.

See also: Carol Ann Duffy's Politics

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Working on the Bend series

Once I get these paintings framed, they will be on sale at the Baradene College art exhibition, from 7 to 9 May 2010. The Bend paintings (Bend I, II, III & IV) are playful riffs on certain motifs that crop up in my larger works, so they were fun to do. Sorta like improv solos. I like having a sense of rhythm and musicality in my work.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thinking about thinking

According to Geoff Dyer, DH Lawrence said he preferred painting to writing because it costs the soul far less.

I think of my own writing as filtering what comes into my head and sorting or rearranging the drawers of my mind.

Writing is difficult but it feels intuitive because even when I don't yet know how a piece will take form, I know that the nugget is already within me; I just have to chip away at it.

Painting, on the other hand, is a process of opening myself to new ways of thinking and doing. For eg, an idea may require me to go about making things in ways I am not used to. Another eg is that all my paintings are visual puzzles that I have to solve. In this sense, I find painting to be more demanding than writing sometimes. It forces me to step out of my comfort zone.

I'm not sure whether I agree with DH Lawrence. Writing tends to act as a friend who lets me pour out my troubles, counsels me and makes me feel less useless. Whereas Painting raps my knuckles and tells me to get on with it. This also helps me feel less useless. If I were completely honest, I would say that I like writing more than I do painting, but I most definitely need both.

I wrote a poem about cabbage trees this morning. I was supposed to be painting.

Above image: Cabbage trees in Whakatane, taken in 2008.