I’ve been away from my blog for a bit and returned to learn Poetic Mapping has been included as one of 9 blogs deemed recommended reading by EKPHRASTIX ARTS: COMBINATORY ART IN MOTION who was nominated for the Reader Appreciation Award. I am of course, astonished. Thank you, Ekphrastic. More on this later.
I’m also uplifted as I’ve been suffering from the dreaded Writer’s Block! And the cause? Because this is my 100th WordPress blog. And when I came to write it a couple or three weeks back, I simply … couldn’t write anything!
The reason for the block – which came down on me like a ton of bricks – was because it was my 100th blog. I pondered and wondered about writing something important. I made notes about important and deep and very serious matters to write about in this my 100th blog. Ha!
I then pretended to myself that the cessation in my writing was due to:
- my husband’s erratic work schedule (disrupting my own)
- the British weather – it’s just stopped raining here in the UK after having done so almost continuously for most of the year, creating a pile-up of outdoor jobs. (I shouldn’t complain as many have lost their homes to flooding)
- I’m too ambitious creatively and so can’t stick to my timetable anyway
- various other excuses
All of the above points are concrete realities but writers and artists the world round will recognise these as excuses stemming from Writer’s Block (especially the one about the weather – I can’t write because of the weather? Come on!)
Anyway, I’ve just figured out what’s actually happened – I was daunted by the number 100. It came on top of a lot of other weighty stuff and was I suppose the last straw that broke the donkey’s back! In letting myself be overcome by the number, I prevented myself from just being me.
So, Yah! Boo! and Sucks! to the number 100. Hey, like my age, you’re just a number! I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself down and I’m starting all over again and if that statement reminds you of anything, they’re song lyrics:
Nothing’s impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start all over again.
I can hear you humming the tune. In case you don’t know or have forgotten, the song’s by Jerome Kern and it’s from the 1936 film Swingtime which starred the great dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It might seem like just a catchy tune, but I think the message is profound. If everybody took the advice, the world would be a more positive place to live in.
Not that I’ve been staring blankly into space awaiting inspiration since my last blog; I’m all but through a writing-related course – started a year ago but attempted only in fits and starts till now – and I’ve been making a garden, basically from scratch. An English Garden. An English Cottage Garden. An Artist’s Garden. I’m going to be trying out some new drawing exercises on the garden, gleaned from a fabulous book that came my way – It’s called Expressive Drawing and is subbied A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within. It’s by Stephen Aimone, artists and educator: http://aimoneartservices.com
I’ll be reviewing this book in due course, meanwhile watch out for some garden-based artworks in future months.
Or maybe I could say to look out for some ekphrastic artworks in future months, for, getting back to this Reader Appreciation Award thingy, I was intrigued by the word ekphrastic and looked it up.
Academia is littered with scholars of Ekphrasis. I have no hope of defining it at that level. I thus present here a few facts and brief thoughts with links to my sources so as to avoid being sued for plagiarism.
Ekphrasis – being Greek – has its origins in Ancient Greece. Ancient as in Plato and Aristotle. And Rhetoric. Literally, Ek means out and phrastic means speak. In Ancient Rhetoric, Ekphrasis was a taught skill used to bring the experience of an object – an aesthetic object, like say a sculpture – to a listener or reader through highly-detailed descriptive writing – speaking out about it. It was a way of giving voice to a mute piece of art. Description not just in terms of the object’s surface appearance, but of its essence.
Time re-shapes this meaning. Ekphrasis was revived in the Romantic period – this exemplified for example by Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn.
I’m thinking: is it art criticism? And that an issue in ekphrasis would be the question of subjectivity – can the describer of an art object divorce himself from his description? Should he/she? (Which drags all the philosophies and psychologies of the ages into the debating arena – and pardon the pun.)
- Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone
- The above bit of Keats’ Ode is his description of some images carved into said grecian urn. He’s referring to the urn’s muteness, which happily enables me to introduce the art form of music and a more modern definition and use of Ekphrasis – as a tool to describe an object from any of the arts, and also to use one art form to describe an aspect of another – music to describe paintings for instance, Mussorgsky’s piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition is an example, and artists who produced works that it can be argued, attempt to visually describe or correspond with music. This use of ekphrasis began with early 20th century artists like Kandinsky and Kupka.
- We are in the Quantum Age (I assert.) The boundaries between space and time, matter and energy continue to shift and therefore it can be argued that any contemporary artwork must be ekphrastic to be true to reality.
- Thus my (tiny) ekphrastic artist’s garden. (With stone urn even!) It’s remodelled into rectangular raised beds formed by (new) railway sleepers, accessed by gravel paths (architecture, sculpture, colour, texture). I’ve sectioned each bed into one foot (or 30 cms) squares (as near as I can get) American square foot garden-style. To make it more informal, I’m planting out each pseudo-square with the aid of a cane circle slightly bigger than the square. And so whatever is planted into these is planted irregularly and with an eye to colour, texture, pattern, shape, rhythm, sound and perfume.
- Squares, rectangles, circles, music, light and shadow, height, width, texture, pattern, colour and tint. The ultimate son-et-lumiere art object fusing all the senses. And as you can turn most of my plants into food or drink, my art is edible, nourishing body as well as soul!
- Over the period of my 100 blogs I’ve met artists of all kinds and been fed and stimulated by their work, enthusiasm, and good wishes. I’ve flagrantly stolen their ideas and will continue to do so. Thank you for your genius generosity and support. I look forward to my 200th blog and to all the artists I have yet to meet.
- And not forgetting the walkers.
- Ekphrastic Origins: The Shield of Achilles (ekphrastixarts.com)
- Poetry Website Engages with Visual Artworks from Kahlo to Vermeer (prweb.com)
- Ekphrastic Moments: Animalinside (ekphrastixarts.com)
- Ekphrastic Opportunities (ekphrastixarts.com)
- Day 23 NaPoWriMo Ekphrastic Prompt (quillfyre.wordpress.com)