Connecting with the World

A piece of art, like a book, can be a thing of beauty in and of itself, yet it can be a vehicle of transformation when it helps us connect with the world in a different way, when it helps us appreciate something in a new way. Then, the piece of art becomes a bridge that helps us see our world differently, perhaps even to see our life differently.

For instance, when I discovered that Thomas Hennell’s painting Weeding Onions was created in the middle of WWII, it made me think much more about the earth, the soil that nurtures and sustains us, providing food – simple, yet indispensable onions- year in and year out despite whatever the madness of human history. The abundant earth giving indiscriminately, to both good and bad; the soil to which we return, which we tend, to which we belong, and in connection with which we just might find our humanity

Time: It’s really important to take time to experience a piece of art – to really engage with it, letting it seep into our consciousness, deeper than the intellect, to our feelings and intuitions. It just might be that it resonates with us, and has some kind of message or outlook or perspective we can embrace. When I went to the see the art installations at Salisbury Cathedral, just before they were closed for the second lockdown, I was deeply moved by Mark Wallinger’s installation Threshold to the Kingdom. I let myself experience what came – tears flowing down my cheeks behind my mask (!). Later I wrote a piece about it:

Attention! To be receptive to what a work of art may have to ‘say’ to us we just need to attend to it. It’s that simple. Just stay awhile. If you see a sculpture for instance, linger, walk around it, look up close, look from afar. Let your imagination wander. When we attend to art, when we give it time, when we allow ourselves to engage with it as an experience, we invite it to disclose itself to us – sometimes in surprising ways. Here’s what I thought about when I lingered in front of a sculpture in Salisbury:

%d bloggers like this: