My Internet friend, and artist, Tangerine Meg, has just posted a blog listing different apologetics for Art, mentioning, among other things, the apparent dichotomy between Art and Science. That the dichotomy is just that, an apparency; that Art and Science are just two different routes to understanding the world.
It’s true that there’d be no scientific progress without imagination. What d’you think propelled Archimedes from his bath to run naked through the streets shouting, “Eureka!”? And he did have it – Archimedes Principle (which I can to this day recite by heart only because when I was 13 I was made to write it out 500 times by my science teacher for failing to do my Physics homework).
Likewise, there’d be no art if it failed to progress beyond the idea: an idea comes into being through the development of technique. Both Art and Science are about problem-solving.
I am reminded of my very first art project at university. We were sent out onto the streets of the city to make drawings to translate into one huge drawing – a work of art in black and white. We were to go out and …”activate a space.” I didn’t have a clue as to how to activate a space, so I went out and did some drawings. I do recall being chased off a piece of land belonging to British Rail by a very angry official – I escaped by climbing up the side of a multi-storey car park, clutching a small section of abandoned rusty rail while shouting, “I’m an art student!” at the official as he accused me of theft of British Rail property. I used the rail in my second project, which was to develop a piece of sculpture from the spaces I’d activated (drawings). It never occurred to me at the time that I could have developed a project around the car park climbing incident.
The sculpture was hopeless and fell apart, as did British Rail, some years later. During the process of the first project, however – the large black and white drawing – I found myself going back to the departmental art shop time and again in frustration, in search of something to make blacker blacks. My professor came up behind me on one of those occasions and said something to the effect that black was black you know and maybe my problem was one of contrast. That was a Eureka! moment for me, though luckily it didn’t inspire me to run up and down a (British) rail track naked, shouting in Greek. That was the last time I trespassed on railway property, too.
I am back from my Walkabout as you see. I’m transitioning through a big change in my life. More on that another time. And I’m picking up where I left off with my Eco Collographs, but with an especial aim. More on that, also, another time. The above are from a series of prints of Purple Sage. For the first time, I made prints on both sides of the paper. As I’d noticed that the colour seeps through the paper during the printing process, I wanted to make use of that aspect. The first two images here are of prints made on one side of the paper and mirror images of each other. The third image is a shot of the other side, on which there is a ghosting of the print on the reverse. Oh and these prints are longer at each side – too big for the scanner. So I’m back to contrast – a way of adding dimension and many other things. In fact, contrast is going to play a big part in developing these works into something meaningful, what may be called Works of Art.
I wondered if there was a subliminal reason I was drawn to the Purple Sage and went to my delightful copy of Flowers and Flower Lore: Revd Hilderic Friend. I found the following about sage in the Plant Augury section of his Introduction:
“… a farmer recently informed me that the same plant [sage] would thrive or decline as the master’s business prospered or failed. He asserted that it was perfectly true, for at one time he was doing badly, and the Sage began to wither; but as soon as the tide turned the plant began to thrive again. This curious association of plants with the weal and woe of individuals and nations is widespread, …”
My tide is turning, I hope. I will soon be in a more settled position in which to give better form to my ideas. Like Archimedes and his Principle.
Flower and Flowerlore, in the chapter entitled The Magic Wand, makes mention of Red Sage. Apparently it will afford “… sight of one’s future husband. On Midsummer’s Eve, just at sunset, three, five, or seven, young women are to go into a garden in which there is no other person, and each gather a sprig of Red Sage. Then going into a room by themselves, they must set a stool in the middle of the room, and on it a clean basin full of Rose-water, into which the sprigs of sage are to be put. When certain other operations have been gone through, it is thought that the lover of each will appear at midnight.”
I already have a husband and am keeping him, but all ye young maidens out there, take note. It’s a great pity that the Revd Friend wasn’t more specific about those “… certain other operations …” that have to be gone through during the ritual for the apparitions to be brought forth. If any of you reading this have the rest of the spell, do let me know and I’ll pass it on to the world’s maidens.
The latin name for sage is Salvia – salve. It is a healing plant. I have sent away for some Red Sage, in the form of tea. Apparently, there are properties in Red Sage which lower cholesterol and as mine is sky high – despite the fact I’ve been a vegetarian for about 25 years – and I won’t take statins, it’s worth a shot.
And so you see that my colourful Internet friend Tangerine Meg writes true – Art is a way of understanding the world and Art and Science are not dichotomies, but intertwined. The practice of both Art and Science is an activity that leads to uses to humankind on all levels.
Have you had a Eureka! moment? What did it lead to? I’d like to hear about it.