A child’s way of seeing

Posted on June 6, 2010

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One of the advantages of my new job at the Belconnen Arts Centre is being able to see and interact with artists of different types. The Centre’s Director actually introduced me to one painter who is also a volunteer at the Centre, as having an arts practice of my own as a writer. I have to admit to being somewhat embarrassed by that description as I do not consider myself an ‘artist’ as such. I am nowhere near being at that level.

The Centre currently has an exhibition entitled Earth Connections, as a celebration of Earth Day. One of the exhibits is a an electronic piece, a looping slide-show of images of a river. I was able to speak to the artist, Karen Williams yesterday. She explained that the images all came from one small stretch of the Molonglo River. As we talked, I began seeing things in what she was showing me. While still images, they were all of movement, either water in movement or reeds flattened by flood waters. Images of things started to appear to me as they had appeared to the artist. This wavering line of froth and bubbles looks somewhat like the head and neck of a swan. That particular bubble in the midst of a ripple is an eye peeking out at you.

As we spoke, I was struck by the fact that as a kid I used to look at things and see images within them, such as faces in whorls on a piece of polished wood. As an older adult, I seemed to have lost that form of observation. It was a salutary reminder that as a writer, I need to look not just at the immediate surface but what is within that surface or below it and what occupies negative space around an object. That form of looking at things then informs, influences and inspires.

I am inspired to head out, journal in hand, looking at things, seeing what I can find within them and taking notes about it, further extending my writing practice.

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