What a break. I could have stayed on for months.
The past few months has been hectic, and I promised myself a long, long week away. No phone, no social media only sun, sea, good food and a book. At the conclusion of Arts festival 22 I could not pack my bags fast enough. I could not wait to get out into the bundus for some well needed rest and relaxation on a quiet, tranquil hide away where I could just switch off.
Following a year of demanding working pace and contracting Covid I could myself in a sea facing hotel room and just let my hair down. (Although this is technically impossible with my hair type; it turns from as flat as a line to as rim rod like a beefeater at queen Elizabeth II table with the first smell of water!) but this how my hair is, and I am ready. All I could think of is swim, read, eat, and sleep. I am going on any excursions or nothing this is my week of detoxing.
I arrived at Fortino Napoleonico, Anacona via Ancona airport at 6pm on Sunday. As I stepped out of the taxi and the doorman reaching for my bags and said with a big smile ‘Buon giorno una donna, you are on holiday, no?’ pointing to the bags in my hand. I willingly hand it over whilst he led me to the front desk to pick up my room keys. The smell of fresh roses, jasmine and lilies filled my lungs as I stepped through my penthouse suite’s door. The moist sea breeze caressing my skin. As I passed the king-sized four poster bed, the motion of the ocean pulled me out onto the veranda. I could feel the tension -which hang so heavily on my shoulders- slowly slipping of my shoulders. Bliss.
Looking over the deep blue water I could not resist the call of the sea. Without a second thought I grabbed a bathrobe and ran across the warm golden sands and into the water. Moments later the cool water enveloping my body and the waves kissing my skin whilst keeping me afloat. My skin opened up her pores like a flower for morning dew. I knew then this is gonna be a heavenly week away. After 30 minutes in the water, I decided to go to bed and promised myself I will be back early morning. This set the routine for the next six days. The first night’s sleep was paradise, cool salty air keeping my skin comfy and the sound of the waves crashing on rocks was like a lullaby, smooth silky it soothed me to deep restful sleep.
Next morning, I got up at 7am quickly donned a swim costume and my body led me like a shepherd to an oasis. After a morning of frolicking in the water I had lunch at 12 pm followed by a stint on the sun lounger with a book. At 5pm I went down to the beach again for another dip and then get myself ready for dinner. With the smell of the cool night air, I would find a quiet spot on the terrace and have a leisurely meal, listening to. The bubbly conversations of the patrons scattered around me. So much laughter, love, and chatter; hearing them talking so lovingly “Cara, mamma Mia, Madonna, Bella Prego, made me feel quite at home.
I started to really take an interest in the Italian way of life and enjoying my daily ritual until Thursday lunch time. As usual I walked onto the terraced and found a quiet spot. As I pulled my chair up to sit, I received a message out of nowhere: ‘Are you still watching?’
When did TVs become so intelligent that it now asks the questions?
Paintings and short story by artist: Sarah Linda Cassels
Fig. 1 found picture on internet
23 June 2022
15:00 – 16pm
By Sarah Linda Cassels
I was invited by the creators of Escaping Gravity: Mike Stubbs (artist) and Ami Aubrey (director) to attend their event at Sheffield Doc Fest in Sheffield city centre. What a treat it was! From begining to end it did not disappoint. A spectacle for the eyes, thoughts for the mind and comfort to the soul this installation was.
The opening scene visual was monochrome, sound started off in slow motion this rhythm was mimicked through humanoid figures that appeared gradually and filling the screen. The movements of their bodies kept us transfixed as if they were worshipping until this robotic voice narrated words such as “we are the earth, split atom, we are matter”. These phrases married the visual on the screen, horizon at first appears vertical then horizontal and breaks up into fragments with this bright light been the source of this extravaganza, making you feel like you have entered the matrix! Yes- you feel part of this seance-like despotic world that screams imminent DANGER!!! Swallowed up by these approaching objects as if you are engulfed almost capsulated by it. The vivid oranges on screen combined by the increasingly fast tempo of music, lightning, and thunder, brings emotions of fear and helplessness, you feel trapped! And there is no way out. But then it suddenly stops. The colours on screen changes to monochrome once more and the humdrum of the spoken word ‘hammering, folding, scraping’ transports you to the monotony of human life, a calm prevails momentarily as these are familiar things to do as a human. Our need for consumption brought to the fore. But then the scene changes once more and these running figures appears caused by this menacing sound, there I eye closed as (a sign of ignorance or an attempt to shut out the danger). Knowing they need to get away from the fire, but there is nowhere to go to! (Made me feel like I has been left behind and I needed to run too!) Where are we going to?
We transported into a deep-sea experience with this Antony Gormley installation of Domain Field (2003) and Lost Horizon I (2008), you feel part of the work but simultaneously outside of it, occupying two realms. Occupying one and having your seeing your traces in the near distant future contemplating what it is you will find. It’s this floating, sinking feeling that feels poignant and attaches an urgency to the work and its message, Act now!
Towards the end the tempo changes once more and the opening scene is repeated in reverse, but the bodies are disintegrating in some way. The singing is quite soothing and melodic as if at a funeral but also act as a warning regarding our apathy to change and not just survive but to be active within our living.
The emotions provoke are both contrary and agreeable to the title of the work escaping means to run from, gravity is the pull of nature. We are all in this sinking ship that is like an airbus but in deep seas and we have nowhere to run to!
It made me ask myself where do I go from here, what do we as a collective do to stop this sinking feeling and retrace our steps and rectify our mistakes? Can we even do something to change.
Diane von Furstenberg
image courtesy of DVF.
“Feel like a woman. Wear a dress!” was an advertising tagline used to advertise Diane Von Furstenberg’s iconic 1973 wrap dress.
Writing as art and art as writing
Renee Gladmann: Architectural Prose; 2017
Emma Bolland and Rachel Smith (02/09/22)
rhizome, also called creeping rootstalk, horizontal underground plant stem capable of producing the shoot and root systems of a new plant. Rhizomes are used to store starches and proteins and enable plants to perennate (survive an annual unfavourable season) underground. In addition, those modified stems allow the parent plant to propagatevegetatively (asexually), and some plants, such as poplars and various bamboos, rely heavily on rhizomes for that purpose. In plants such as water lilies and many ferns, the rhizome is the only stem of the plant. In such cases, only the leaves and flowers are readily visible.
Claire Coalbrook states: ‘ Rather than a linear development or progression, a rhizomatic text is composed of multiple points of entry. A rhizome is a lateral, decentred, proliferating, and interconnected web of relations and is therefore unlike the hierarchical (root, branch, offshoots) model of a tree‘ My understanding of this is that roots have as many and different shoots which arises from a singular topic but which may sprout in many lateral directions still connected and informing of the main body.
Writing as an art form is as much a repetition of lines and points. When drawing, every interval in the drawing is a bridge. A developing child, from the age of 18 months the eye follows the hand but once they reach about 2 years the eyes guide the hand. Suggesting to me that the movements of the body are followed, traced, or copied even, by the conscious mind. As a child’s ability to express themselves verbally are still developing the brain (or thought) overrides the intellect and extends into the motor neurons to enact the meaning of the thought. It is at this stage they become aware of being separated from their mother and this emotion becomes a signifier of the push and pull that separation causes. This is also the same time they start to walk and develop language and start to draw.
A trace or scribble / doodle can transform a separating gap into a bridging space, and this is also a character of drawing whereby it connects two points to create something else. If, like Freud states that ‘the external world is perceived as a projection of one’s own body’ means the person’s internal thoughts than become written word or image and is so projected onto lines and spaces, adding onomatopoeia to these drawings brings together the body, gesture, and sound in the same moment, which is an affirmation to Renee Gladmann’s argument. Gladmann writes in the Architectural Prose ‘I saw it as the extending from my body, thru my hand … and left a record behind’ pretty much like Smith Says in her quote:
‘a drawing is tracing
a drawing is mapping
a drawing is thinking’.
If a drawing is all the above then writing can be considered as art. Writing contains some elements of art. It contains lines, composition, light and breathing space which are important elements of drawing too.
What have I learned from this is that there is real tension between the intellectual and the creative process. Writing if it is an extension of the body, as argued by Gladmann, is the visualisation of thoughts and the act of the writing is determined by these thoughts, this means there is a difference between formal writing and subconscious writing. (What do I mean? Your thoughts are not necessarily a deed or action as it is dormant within your thinking processes.) This thought can be activated consciously by making them known in the form of lines and points. These lines and points do not necessarily have to have an acknowledged format. (In the case of toddlers who draw the world around them and then rely on the verbal connotations of these scribbles to accompany the drawings to make sense of what they are trying to say. Although there are toddlers who can draw images that does not need translating due to their artistic talent, does not mean they are able to write a story, but they can still tell the story.) If writing is drawing or mapping or tracing and drawing through the body is the physicality of this thinking process, then drawing or writing’s sole purpose is to make something invisible and abstract seen; meaning the thought becomes seen, an object subjected to internalisation. In other words, the thought becomes a material object within the consciousness still void of meaning outside its appearance.
Rene Magritte: This is not a pipe; 1929
This brings me to Rene Magritte’s painting “Ceci n’est pas un pipe”, translated “this is not a pipe”, describing the power of an image. Magritte strove to explore the ambiguity of thought and image. He argued that the painting was a pipe, it looked like a pipe, but was not a pipe as much as it was a thought. Although the lines drawn on paper assimilates that of a pipe it does not contain the functions of a pipe which we have been taught by socialisation to contain tobacco, being hot and smoky. Instead, it is made from lines and points replicated on a paper or canvas. It looks like a pipe but cannot be as such as it is a mere thought. Magritte followed the thinking of Michel Foucault who believed that everything we learn is measured by standards we come to know through the socialisation processes. My understanding of this school of thought is society set the rules of association and from a young age we are taught to follow the known routes with its concise and pre-set methods of measurement. Our accomplishments are therefore measured by the aforesaid, set of rules, including language, writing, and reading.
Western society reads and writes from left to right, with a recognisable alphabet. Like drawings all these letters contain lines and points. Meaning an image is made up of lines and points but structured in 2D form. Having different ways of bringing across the same message is then a conscious act to convey a thought. Using the example by Magritte, “This is not a pipe”, the image is that of a pipe, but the words associated with the painting are contrary. The image itself is a fact, on its own merit it is not posing a negative nor positive statement, it just is. The image and the words side by side suggests these two realities. This indicates the power a formalised sentence has on an image. If both the image and the words were separated, it will just be an image of a pipe or an image of a constructed sentence telling you this is not a pipe, which it will be true of course. Both the work of Gladman and Magritte follow the conscripted requirements of language and writing but are structured differently. Magritte’s work has the formal, conscious elements of writing and painting and Gladmann’s work may not be immediately recognisable as writing or drawing but it follows the same painterly requirements when making art. There is evidence of light and shade within the structural rise and fall of her hand across the spatial field. The starting point sweeps across the page and appears as a continuous reading from left to write. There is little differentiation from left or right as the drawing feels circular and reads either way. Attention is placed by adding contrast through the way she handles her brush or pen; some areas are darker in places, be it because of repetition of line or increased pressure on the page but it affords the effects of tonal ratios. The composition is strategically placed in a way that it feels like layering of paint by building the plane up like a wall, brick by brick, to highlight certain elements and obscure some to add interest and hold the attention of the viewer. A lot of consideration is placed on negative space, and this makes it easier for your eye to travel across the page and have a different take on the image each time your eye returns to a particular point. This element of unpredictability evokes lightness and flow throughout the artwork. Through consideration of every element of composition you can conclude that these are decisive drawings, every line and point has been fully considered. They are not just scribblings across a page, but well thought out compositions.
In conclusion writing as drawing may be as considered and planned as formal writing but offers another take on things, making way for the subconscious mind. If writing is as much a struggle as art and proceeds from the same faculties as writing, language syntax, that is imperative to narration then surely writing is art and art is writing. The structural context has little consequence to the narrative. If you can read a drawing and read the same image as words and it is internalised as such then it has the same purpose; writing is art and art is writing and writing as art is an amalgamation of the two.
Renee Gladmann, Architectural Prose; 2017
Renee Magritte, The Treachery of Images; 1929
Foucault, Discourse and Power
Instinctive drawing whilst listening to reading of Poetry by Emma Bolland, during a workshop by E. Bolland and R. Smith; 2021
Deep listening, Response to reading of Anne Frank’s Diary
Response Collage to deep listening drawings
Deep listening exercise
Drawing with sound
Instinctive drawing whilst listening to reading of Poetry by Emma Bolland, during a workshop by E. Bolland and R. Smith
Deep listening, Response to reading of Anne Frank’s Diary
Response collage to deep listening drawings