Art is precious to me. As far back as I can remember, I have been under its delicious spell. Whether it be painting, literature, drawing, poetry, sculpture, theatre, photography, dance or music, art – in all its forms – has inspired, encouraged and enriched my life. I can still recall as a young boy, marveling at the magical illustrations by Sir John Tenniel that adorned Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. I remember my extraordinary delight when reading C.S. Lewis’s allegorical fantasy, “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” and I remember being profoundly moved by the stirring and beautiful hymns that I sang as a schoolboy in the English schools and churches. Right from the beginning, I was enchanted by creative expression, and today, as I write this, I can’t imagine my life deprived of art. When I have needed consolation for disappointment and sorrow, when I’ve needed a spark to motivate my footsteps forward, and when I have needed a balm to heal my fears and anxieties – art has been my medicine. Many times in my life, I have used the transforming strategy of creativity as a defense against despair. Oscar Wilde wrote: “It is through … art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.”
I have always felt a certain reverence when entering art galleries, museums, theatres, concert halls and libraries, for in these places, something noble is revealed about the human spirit. Man’s psyche drops its fragile mask for a moment and allows itself to be seen naked by way of visions, representations, words, melodies, images and performances – be they disturbing or beautiful – that disclose the emotional inner landscape of the human condition. In these places, we are stimulated to dream, to question, to speculate and to ponder, and our imagination is asked to soar above the humdrum existence of our daily lives. Hopefully, when touched by man’s expression, a revolution occurs within us and our better nature becomes inspired. Art is the response of the living to life. It is, therefore, the record left by civilization. I am at my happiest and most-consumed when lost in the act of creating. And when writing, I am always searching to connect with some elusive transcendent beauty – a certain “beyondness”. To quote Oscar Wilde again, “Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, and creeds follow on another like the withered leaves of autumn; but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons and a possession for all eternity.”
In today’s society, our lives move at breakneck speed, and the pressures of modern living weigh heavy upon us – can even cripple us. But, if we are wise, we can choose to take refuge and to restore ourselves in the sanctuary of art. Let me finish with the words of writer Saul Bellow: “Art – the fresh feeling, new harmony, the transforming magic which by means of myth brings back the scattered distracted soul from its modern chaos – art, not politics, is the remedy”.
“A work of art is the trace of a magnificent struggle”
– Robert Henri
Thanks for stopping by.
For future reading on the healing power of art, please investigate these following fine books:
Writers On The Art of Writing – by Nancy Crampton; The Art Spirit – by Robert Henri; Creation, Artists, Gods and Origins – by Peter Conrad; and The Quotable Artist – by Peggy Hadden.