The full title of the chapter I’ve just read is “Artist in Residence: The Small Intestine” … but I thought that might turn people off in the title line for this post. It’s a chapter from a wonderful book I’ve occasionally dipped into over the years, Body Eloquence by Nancy Mellon and Ashley Ramsden. Each chapter is devoted to a different organ in our body and its function, physically and soulfully. This evening I’ve been immersed in the small intestine – perhaps a phrase you don’t hear every day.
For those of us for whom this part of the body brings strong impulses, artistry is everything. Beauty makes our hearts sing. Artistic expression of natural phenomena can be more “real” than the thing in its external form. Ashley thus retells a Chinese folktale about master painter, Wang-fo. The emperor has been brought up in solitude in palatial surroundings, including the majestic paintings of Wang-fo. Thus, when he’s shown the outside world for the first time at age 16, he feels overwhelming disgust at the harshness of reality compared with the beauty of master Wang-fo’s paintings. This is precisely my experience of daily life. So much beauty is there to be savoured in grand things and in the rich delights of in the inner life. Thus, the external world often seems so jarring. I can admire the ingenuity of some built environments, but much of it seems so very lacklustre to me. A fair question might be, “Who said you were entitled to an unending array of beauty?” Indeed, that’s a realistic rebuke, but the counter question comes easily, “Why have most authorities and individuals made beauty such a low priority?”
Nancy and Ashley comment that “many artists swing between poles of intense creativity and of self-destruction”. Fortunately, they suggest a solution – “Our creativity transforms us. Time opens up as destructive impulses become grist and fodder for making something beautiful. Hysteria, addiction and depression can turn into creative genius that completely surprises our darker impulses.” Let it be so, dear sensitive friends. Shall we make mosaics on the footpaths? Murals on our walls? Crochet-bomb parliament house? Well I’ve written a little blog post about it. And the creative outburst has been healing. Crocheting tomorrow.
Many thanks to you Zoe for opening up this forum for our creative expression.