Giving Expression?

Do we believe art, in all its myriad forms, is only and exclusively the domain of ‘artists’? What makes art, ‘art’? Is it the recognition of what’s produced as having an aesthetic ‘value’, accompanied by a rising price tag as more works are produced? And the artists themselves, what of them? They become ‘names’, public property along with their ‘works’. An acquaintance of mine paints and draws and sticks it on their wall, sometimes framed, often not. Who’s to say these pieces will, one day, become valued as have the doodles of some of our greats? Not forgetting among the artists; dramatists, actors, dancers, photographers, performers of all kinds. And then there are the great and wonderous writers and poets giving their expression; pouring out their lifeblood as others do, to express that which is revealed unbidden and inexplicably.

Yesterday afternoon I heard myself say, ‘I’ve just done an honest half-days work.’! Given we are closed to guests at the moment we have made a start on painting rooms in the Hall of Pure Offerings. Putting on work clothes doing physical work, getting dirty, getting tired and hungry causes me to feel I’ve actually ‘done something’. Right there. There is something to show for it. No sooner had I spoken, ironically by the way, of my ‘honest half-days work’ than somebody quipped ‘all forms of work are honest’! Quite so too. No glory or acclaim, no applause for giving simple creative expression to – tending plants for example. It is, of course, the ‘how’ more than the ‘what’ that is significant. We would say it’s about ‘attitude of mind’ which is private and personal and known only within our being. Quite often this knowledge is hidden even to ourselves. Only when the flower arrangement, for example, brings a welling of joy is an expression made manifest to the ‘artist’. And their public!

One of the many memories that have surfaced since Rev. Myfanwy’s death on the 2nd of July is a conversation we had while she was staying in Cornwall, 2001. ‘Gosh’! I exclaimed a bit frustrated, ‘I’ve done nothing all-day’. The Reverend replied, ‘you have been talking on the phone non-stop, that’s not nothing. That’s tiring too’. Clearly, there was nothing to show, nothing produced, nothing to put one’s hand on. Nothing to see or stand back and admire or for anybody else to appreciate either. But she saw through that. I’ve always remembered that exchange. Giving expression comes in many forms, including listening to the words and expressions of others.

Out and beyond.
what impels us
to give expression?

Why pick up a pen
or brush or
rise from a chair!

Could it be
the veil lifts
briefly.

Each of us
driven to
give expression.

Through living
nothing
special!

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2 thoughts on “Giving Expression?”

  1. All too easy, in this kind of no-man’s-land that life in a suspended state of animation is, at the moment, to feel one does so little, has nothing to show for the day… Thank you for this, a useful reminder of what a great French writer, Montaigne, said, in essence: “you say you have done nothing… you have lived!”

  2. I remember years ago watching a French documentary on some Pacific islanders coming into a rather dangerous harbor and beginning to unload the days ‘catch’, and the voice-over announcer breathlessly whispering that these simple ‘natives’ didn’t even have a word in their language for ‘work’.
    The word and meaning of work are part of the industrialization process. We’ve imposed it on ourselves and have required pay, we always assign value. My wife Linda used to like the saying that we are human beings not human doings.
    Well, enough of that I’d better get back too…:)

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