Finding the poetic in the everyday
Noticing and attending are key tools in my poetic life. Noticing what I pass on the street or on the path to the beach, and taking time to attend to the whole and the detail. (By ‘attend’ I mean ‘pay attention’, preferring it without the money metaphor.)
As you’ll have seen in other blog posts, I often use my phone to assist in these processes - taking photos slows me down, and focuses the looking; the phone camera lets me frame what I’m seeing. One autumn day in London, I was walking and looking, phone in hand —
I was taking photos of leaves on paving slabs when a man spoke to me. I explained that I was planning to use these random fallings of leaves in the composition of my paintings. This opened up a short conversation in which I learnt the following from him:
He lays paving slabs for his living. He likes the natural ones like the ones we were standing on better than the manufactured slabs that are gradually taking over our streets. He notices the things that he finds when he lifts slabs - spiders, webs, insects, leaves. He paints too. He paints horses. He loves horses and to gamble on the races. He paints by tracing pictures of the horses. He learnt to paint when he was in prison. His teacher in prison was a very good marine artist. He still can recall the details of a painting by this artist, of Vancouver from the sea, and how it was so well painted that even the leaves of the trees on the shore were visible in the picture.
The whole and the detail, the amazing complexity of another person’s life, and the privilege and pleasure of being trusted to share it, if only briefly.
And eventually the noticing and attending spills over into making paintings—