Over the last month i’ve been asked several times about inspiration and where it comes from- ironically in the midst of interviews and talking about process you find yourself increasingly separated from that flow from which inspiration comes.
These last few days in Paris have been a welcome opportunity to reforge the link with “The Flow”. A chance trip to the wonderful english language book shop Shakespeare and Co revealed an evening signing by ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’ regular Greg Proops, his book ‘The Smartest Book In The World’ was a great reminder that inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere being a compendium of interesting titbits including “a section on poetry”. His vibrant talk in the Parisienne sun, shouted over the enigmatic chiming of The Notre Dame Bells and many Police sirens, was testament to the fact that passion and curiosity enthusiastically followed leads to inspiration in this case a great book.
When answering the inevitable “Inspiration” question I often talk about visiting art galleries and museums and whilst I have had the good fortune of having a few meetings at London’s National Gallery over the last few weeks, I found that my head was not zoned-in enough to be satisfyingly inspired- i’ve been on work mode for too long perhaps? Yesterday was different the actress and I strolled along Jardin des Plantes cameras in hand and photographed frogs and flowers with iphone mounted macro lenses and strolled lazily from cafe to cafe (and yes ok a starbucks – don’t care I wanted a mocha) in this frame of mind we visited The Maison de Victor Hugo and The Picasso National Museum. I was gratefully reminded that galleries, museums (and gardens) are great places for inspiration but often not in ways you might expect…
At The Picasso National Museum I was struck by Picasso’s process – here is an artist who has done everything – naturalism, cubism, sculpture, ceramics and print- in my ignorance I had no idea, I always thought Picasso was solely responsible for putting eyes on cheeks like the Weeping Woman with her face a muddle of tears. I was astounded that this artist who I associated with broad strokes and bright colours was also able to render beautifully realistic scenes and that his more abstract work was a result of rejecting the “boring” naturalism that did little to challenge the viewer- I was left with the reaffirmation that great artists explore their whole craft with passion and determination and, like sharks, never stop swimming.
At Le Maison De Victor Hugo there was a beautifully insightful exhibit that juxtaposed Victor Hugo’s drawings (who knew!) with those of poet Louis Soutter despite them being active decades apart. What struck me here was the story of Soutter- he came to drawing late in life, as more of a hobby thatdeveloped as friends started to provide increasingly better drawing materials- as his health (and finances) waned he was placed in a home and made to sell his violin to help cover costs yet still he drew. As he lost the ability to hold a pencil he started to create images by dipping his hands in car grease and making the images with his fingers! He had passion, his art was his passion and he worked against all odds. Too often as artists we proclaim the world is against usand stopping us creating our Art… Makes you think.
Soutter’s body of work also struck me because even the simplest of doodles were “complete”, considered pieces of work that made me think of the countless abandoned doodles I make on a daily basis in margins and between poems… Why not treat them as I would any written piece and finish them! Why not treat all creative endeavours seriously working to completion, exploring the craft, all crafts to their, full extent and working no matter what. Why not?