Second commission finished in 2022 and I am working on another, along with one for an up coming Gallery at the Station in Richmond, along with at least one new painting. I do feel busy and I am working quite hard right now.
I might want to say that I still don't feel properly employed despite my busyness for all my normal reasons, mainly lack of income. But I have to say that I have had a couple of revelations this last week or two that have made me a little more defensive of my role as an artist.
I was drawn to a book called Walking on Water: reflections on Faith and art by Madeleine l' Engle and I have learned some salient lessons. It starts with a quotation form Aristotle. 'That which is impossible and probable is better than that which is possible and improbable.' Can you fall into that, Aristotle says it is better to have hope, belief, or just an feeling that something impossible might happen than to have no, hope or belief in something possible. It is the belief in the impossible that gives us hope, and hope allows us to face the impossible.
Over the last few years I have lived on the hope of surviving financially by my art. A total impossibility, and one that I felt was probable enough to keep going. My husband and I have not been without food or roof in that time, but it would an exaggeration to say my art had anything to do with it. I have been able to sustain my art and build up an audience, even people who have been prepared to spend what I see as considerable amounts of hard earned cash to take something I have created home.
Celebrating my beautiful homeland has been a purpose, giving people pleasure has been a purpose, glorifying God by glorifying his creation has been a purpose. However in light of the Aristotle quote I have finally discovered my real role as an artist. It is to give hope; to open little cracks of probable impossibility, to enable a generation who believe more in the coldness of imposable than in the warmth of the probable.
L' Engle has also taught me that I am a servant of the art work, it comes to us and says 'Here I am serve me' , in serving we give birth to something that is outside of ourselves. Art empowers faith in the impossible, she says 'Faith is for that which lies on the other side of reason. Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities, and sudden startling joy.' What an amazing job to have! She also says we have to get out of the way the work has to lead us not us lead the work. And we have to work every day. She admits to her guilt for working when she did not earn any money from her writing but she still worked. So I feel I have been given permission to work to stop feeling guilty (though I know I still will) and to be a faithful servant to the art that comes to me.
Glass came to me I did not run to it but it is here and this bowl has had a history. I started it expecting it to be an English garden, a couple had asked for first refusal so I could not sell it to the lady who wanted a present for a friends birthday present. I started the bowl before the vase that went to its owner recently, as a sixtieth birthday present bought by a close friend for the occasion. The words were so precious the lady buying the vase wanted the same words as were on the vase and I explained them in the last blog.
The couple who wanted first refusal on this bowl decided they would like a cornfield with mice rather than an English garden, I was not sure how that would work but I thing it has worked wonderfully. I have taken lots of photographs of it for evidence of what can be done if anyone else wants something as a commemorative piece.
The way this bowl links to everything I have said about art opening the door to hope and belief is that the lady who said she wanted first refusal has just been baptised and is going to keep this bowl as a commemorative piece of the looking through chink in the wall of impossibility to see the probability that there is more than this life.