‘The title of this project has been adapted from a poem by the French writer Jean Follain.
Follain’s use of language, his sense of the miniature, the modesty of his subjects, and the relationship of his poems to memory have influenced its general outline – A project that asks you to think about colour as the material of art.
‘A small painting of seven apples by Paul Cézanne arrived in England in 1918. It sat in the hedge at the bottom of the farm lane leading up to Charleston, while the economist Maynard Keynes, who had acquired it from the sale of Edgar Degas’s collection in Paris, carried the rest of his luggage up to the house. Duncan Grant ran down to fetch it. From then on at Charleston, where Keynes left the Cézanne for a period, and then in Roger Fry’s studio, where it also lodged for a while, it became the object of intense scrutiny. ‘What can six apples not be?’ Woolf asked, miscounting the apples in her amazement at the attention this small painting attracted. She wanted to understand its power, for as her diary entry records, the apples seemed to get redder and rounder and greener, while the other paintings in the room seemed to recede, to pale into insignificance.’
(Frances Spalding, Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision. National Portrait Gallery Publications, 2014.)
By starting out from one of thirty (30) poems/pieces of writing selected for you to study (by John Berger, Charles Baudelaire, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Bowles, Geraldine Connolly, Jean Follain, John Glenday, Geoffrey Hill, Michel Houellebecq, Kathleen Jamie, Jane Kenyon, Hester Knibbe, Michael Longley, Mary Oliver, Francis Ponge, Marion Poschmann, Rainer Marie Rilke, Edith Södergran, Katherine Towers, Natasha Trethewey and Virginia Woolf) we would like you to study the question, what is colour? within the context of a fluid understanding of the landscapes of language and technology, and in particular, the visual and critical languages of fine art … … and make an artwork out of your discoveries, the only stipulation is that it starts out from your response to one of the pieces of writing provided.’
(from ‘What is colour – without Language?’ The third of three first semester Fine Art studio projects; General Foundation in Art & Design, DJCAD, University of Dundee.)
And complementing my reference to comments that Geoffrey Hill made in an interview:
‘In my view, difficult poetry is the most democratic, because you are doing your audience the honour of supposing that they are intelligent human beings. So much of the populist poetry of today treats people as if they were fools.’
And Hill continued …
‘We are difficult. Human beings are difficult. We’re difficult to ourselves, we’re difficult to each other. And we are mysteries to ourselves, we are mysteries to each other. One encounters in any ordinary day far more real difficulty than one confronts in the most ‘intellectual’ piece of work. Why is it believed that poetry, prose, painting, music should be less than we are? Why does music, why does poetry have to address in simplified terms, when if such simplification were applied to a description of our own inner selves we would find it demeaning? I think art has a right—not an obligation—to be difficult if it wishes.’
… further related arguments may be found in this article by Rebecca Watt – https://www.pnreview.co.uk/cgi-bin/scribe?item_id=10090 – taken from PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, January – February 2018.
‘You must change your life’ was the injunction that the Greek torso issued to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. A torso without a head.
The head – of the Greek God Apollo, severed from its body and lying on one side – is seen elsewhere, held between the hands of a blind man in Jusepe de Ribera’s painting, In Sense of Touch.
The painting was made in Naples in 1652. The poem composed in Paris and first published in 1918.
Rilke would live in Paris for twelve years, and in 1902 he became the friend, and for a time the secretary, of the sculptor Auguste Rodin. His writing during this time (1907-1908) was not about his own abstract ideas and moods, but instead about actual things outside of himself, a type of poetry he referred to as Dinggedichte (thing poems) – for example, an encounter with a panther in a zoo enclosure; children on a merry-go-round; the broken sculpture of a male figure in the Louvre Museum. The poem, ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’, is ekphrastic – a vivid description of a visual work of art, in this case, a statue without a head, without arms or legs, without genitals – and it asks us to consider why the poet ‘sees it’ as more real, in this, its damaged condition.
Both the photograph of the statue in the Louvre’s collection, and Rilke’s poem, are ‘documents’. And this ‘document’ – in addition to studying the subject of sculpture – is the other subject of this, the second project.
(from ‘What is Sculpture?’ The second of three first semester Fine Art studio projects; General Foundation in Art & Design, DJCAD, University of Dundee.)
Brambles, thousands to a soul, march on the English aorta – and others of that species – intent on crusade in the moist arch of her cut grass. Aye, revelation in the food bank at suppertime: isolation, Fentanyl analogues, bevvy, et cetera.
The second wound: The land moved away starting to turn in the orient of sky. And as the land moved away so too a sour melody turned without light into the wound your lance made in the canvas; the Verfremdungseffekt of a supermarket trolley, contactless payment, dry cleaning, flies, et cetera.
In the sky about the wound that your lance made in the flesh, the ur-psalm of a goldfinch spread the sweet shelter of a lime tree on the bleached grass; a teenage girl slept peacefully-foetal in a space between Lenor and Comfort on the bottom tray of a shelving unit in the Household Cleaning aisle. I ask, are we all too late? Have I seen your face before? I need help from time to time: Yes, I said, we would need the guns by next spring.
L. your discovery was more than just the hole, more than just nothing.
Collecting sticks in the wood, I went over to where he was found by a dog walker, where they fly-tipped his body; over here,
This is where the officers danced the Scottish dawn.
Friday 5 January, 2018. The Hirsel, Riemore Estate, Dunkeld. Snow fell over everything. Voices grew quieter and fewer. I was no longer ashamed of my love for you. On the far hill the snow came on again, but softly, as I watched the blue numbers huddle neon deep in the weather, perhaps six hundred of a flock surrounded by brilliant light; an immense protecting veil of steam inside which were ten thousand and more eyes. You needed to be somewhere. I cleared the windscreen and windows with a flat five centimetre square piece of Plockton oak and turned the key in the ignition.
The fifth wound: A rabbit arched its back. A blossom-killing fog hung over everything. I watched a woman in grey sweats turn slowly away from a memorial of flowers that were tied to a fence. She stepped over a puddle and walked towards the other end of the car park and a spirit-blue Fiat; towards where sickly bushes rusted behind the fence, the ground around them a poisonous blush of deep red. A train went by. She pulled the key to the car from a clutch bag and a silver bullet fell to the ground – a Cyber Colours avocado lip balm.
Woven into the fence behind her car were thin strings of human guts; cold viscera; wet human guts starting to dry in the gentle breeze. The rest had been bagged by early morning, and hastily stored in a chest freezer in the Coated Fish aisle before the red mud had had a chance to harden on it; before he had had a chance to harden on her:
The night bled outwith her; her room, saturated in a porcelain silence that flowed and flowed like starlight coming into truth in the white-washed air at the end of her bed: linseed, yellow ochre, plaster of Paris, carmine and hawthorn, taking form;
Daisy, dandelion, smooth meadow-grass, orchard grasses … pitiless small birds flitted around the wooden kirk, and to everything later, et cetera.
BASP UK – Outdoor Emergency First Aid
Highland, to plant limes beside the spring, to purify and sweeten the water.
Shaun Prescott, The Town (Brow Books, 2017)
The world, as wide as your sides, but masked by fashion and comfort.
‘Twice five, twice five, twice five …’
Vine black – rushlight.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Ivan the Terrible and Ivan the Fool. Translated by Daniel Weissbort (Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1979)