On seeing an art work

And then I stop and stare.

There is a painting above the old fireplace. I don’t know what it is but it seems to be something made especially for me. It is a muted landscape and at the top is a shining gold sun. Some of the gold seems to have worn off, giving the sun a distressed look. The sun is poking into the border of the painting, which isn’t framed.

coymoonI stand and stare.

There is a good chance that my mouth is gaping wide open. I’m having trouble breathing and my heart is thumping hugely. I keep standing there staring.

After a while I look around and realize that everyone is nearby too busy eating drinking and talking to pay much attention to me. That’s fortunate because I must look really dumb.
I look away from the painting. I look back. I can’t help it. I seem to need to keep looking at this beautiful thing. I understand it. It is speaking to me. I have no idea what it is saying but still I understand it. This is really stupid, but I can’t stop looking.
I feel someone standing close beside me. I look and it’s Avril.

“You seem to be enjoying the art,” she says.
At first my voice doesn’t work. I close my open mouth and I open it again in an attempt to speak like some demented goldfish. “That painting, it’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it’s only small, but I like it too. It’s made by painting with beeswax, with the color in the wax.”
“Small but perfect. It’s amazing. I need to buy it. How do I buy it?”

This painting could not be expressed in poetry. I have never found that to be the case before. I ventured into the scary (for me) area of prose and plotting and it became the inspiration for a novel. Girl meets boy artist, who is a Las Cruces nice guy over here as part of the exchange — not the actual artist, Susan Hutton, as I have taken some licence with the facts. 

~ Jan Sullivan

 

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The Writing in Art

Way back in September our club meet moved to the local gallery to take in some of their collaborative exhibition with Las Cruces, New Mexico. Unfortunately, our web site wasn’t all she could be at the time but now, after some remedial action, she’s getting back to action. 


 

Writers can be nervous when invited to put aside their prose and, having engaged with an art exhibition, come up with some short and sharp words, rich with glorious, vigorous and from-the-heart meaning.

Bundaberg Writers’ Club asked precisely that of members. Let’s be honest here, some people needed convincing. So we dragged those few along to BRAG and to WBHDII, and you know, it wasn’t so bad!

Man, can those artworks speak.

And one writer was heard to comment, with a little squeak in the voice, how much galleries had changed.

Bonus.

Since responding to art is an exercise in seeing through another’s point of view, here’s a few words from a member/traveller who sees Bundaberg daily from a different angle; he lives on the river, just downwater from BRAG.

John Regan has sailed the world a time or two and is well familiar with Woody Island, and the light. His immediate connection, and reaction, was to Trevor Spohr’s piece.

Central section Woody Island Girl

Central section
Woody Island Girl

 

Woody Island Girl

Woody Island Girl
a beacon in the dark
passage through the shallows
history leaves its mark

sailing through the strait by night
we keep a lookout for the light
eased the sheets, now running free
her bowsprit plunging through the sea

 

 

 

 

You can just about hear the swash and buckle. And taste the salt on your lips.

If you’re wondering what it’s really like ‘messing about in boats’ on the Burnett, then wonder no longer. Here’s a quick picture of life on the river from John Regan…

 

 

pelican‘Pelicans are the paddle boats on the Burnett River. Despite their absurd beaks and big round eyes they have an air of dignity as they cruise through the shallows. The beak plunges like a sword into the water and comes up with its prey struggling inside the pouch like a hyperactive Adam’s apple. Two or three gulps and the hapless fish is swallowed whole and the pelican continues on its sedate way.

As the tide falls, a tribe of pelicans come to rest on a mudbank near my boat, always on the lookout for prey. They have much better manners than seagulls and rarely squabble among themselves. They even tolerate the presence of shags on their territory but seagulls appear to be intimidated by the beak and sheer bulk of a pelican.

A family of seahawks that nests in the nearby mangroves present the only real competition for pelicans although they tend to keep their distance. While the pelican fishes in the shallows the hawk circles high in the air and dive-bombs his prey.

Then there are the ibis, curlews, willy wagtails and magpies trying to make a living on the riverbank. Considering all this competition among species, life on the river is remarkably harmonious unless you happen to be a fish, a crab or a worm. Crocodiles have not been seen in the river for many years although a large one inhabits the Mary River, not far away. The only real pest as far as humans are concerned is a little bird that looks like a cross between a sparrow and a swallow. Their unpleasant habit is to perch on the guardrails of my yacht and shit on my deck.’

River