You realise you have so much to explore when there’s an art gallery in the same building as you walk by every day, and you never even knew. It makes me think about how much I walk by every day without realising how much I miss by not opening that door, reading that sign, asking in that reception. I guess it’s for my own good. With my FOMO I wouldn’t be able to cope with that insight on an everyday basis. But still. There is so much to do. So little time to do it. But on the other hand, I’ll be here for while.
The art gallery I went to the other day was Courtauld Gallery, and I went there with people from the Culture Experience Award at King’s. There, I tried free-writing for the first time. Well, to be honest, it was free-writing on purpose for the first time. I often free-right. With the downsides of grammar mistakes and questionable spelling, I find it in some way therapeutic to just through the words down on a piece of paper. I usually don’t do that when I sketch though, which we also tried out in the gallery. I guess, when I paint, I’m kind of a perfectionist in that sense. I need to get rid of that and realise there can be art anyways. For example, I looked at a painting by Leon Kussoff, thinking every line from the pencil almost looked alive. But not perfect or organised in any way. After looking at it up close, I took a few steps back and realised I had been looking at the chin of a face. A messy, but somehow alive, face.
I walked around in the gallery by myself for quite a long time after that. I tried some more free-writing, looking at ‘Antibes’ by Monet, and just tried to breath in the calmness and inspiration of my surrounding. It’s been so long since I took my time in a gallery. I guess that’s my kind of alone-time. I looked at the exhibition ‘Rodin and Dance: The Essence of Movement’, looked at the interior of the gallery, walked through the rooms several times. And then the gallery was closing for the day, so I walked to the tube station feeling somehow different than before the gallery visit. And I still feel like I need to come back there many times, just to be able to take it all in. The expressions of a gallery can be somewhat overwhelming, in a good way, I think. I guess I was overwhelmed.
Walking to the tube station, I realised it was easier to see art in every corner I passed. Usually, when I paint myself, I end up see colours clearer afterwards. It’s almost like the different shades in the trees goes from ignored to very much reflected on, all of a sudden. What I didn’t even thought of walking from the tube station, became very clear going back the same way. Just by looking and reflecting on art in a gallery for a couple of hours. I think that is amazing. And I think it’s sad how many people misses out on that, believing art ‘is just art’. How I miss out on it myself every time I walk by a building I don’t know is… an art gallery for example. Because art clears the mind in some sense, making you more susceptible to impressions. Or… It does that to me at least. But maybe not everyone wants that. In the end, it’s not only beautiful colours and feelings you’ll become susceptible to, but the ugly feelings too. You can’t really choose, I guess. Looking at the girl in Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’, I didn’t feel joy at all. But still though… I think it’s worth it. Being exposed to your own feelings through art. It’s cool that you can feel by observing. Walking by a building and realise that you can get in touch by another level of awareness afterwards, just by going inside for a little while. Just by walking through the door in a corner of Somerset house.
We started looking at this painting for our first free-writing. The concept is basically to put down the pencil on the paper and write constantly for 10 minutes. No stopping allowed; just keep on writing down what you’re thinking. I wrote about the first thing I thought about, which often turns out to be narratives about the subjects in the picture. Since I’ve managed not to lose the paper I wrote on, I’m just gonna copy my free-writing here. It’s for me to remember it, I guess:
He built the boat in March. It wasn’t really a master piece, but it didn’t take in any water and aesthetically, it did look like something her brother had when they were young. Simon would appreciate it once he was old enough and were able to handle by himself, without any support from his older sisters. In addition, some knowledge in swimming would probably be good, considering Sam’s capacity in ever building anything that lasted. The kitchen, fixing the oven, building this boat, building this family… It all came together but eventually fell apart when Sam got involved. Never would he build anything that eventually turned into pieces again. Never would he be able to fix, or be the one to blame, for this family puzzle he had created but also lost the most important piece from. Simon took a hold of her dress while they stood there, together, looking at the boat that Simon built this March. Then, the ice was still keeping the waves from dancing, and the grass in the end of the lake from joining in. By the end of April, he was not even there to put it to place in the water. He wasn’t there to fix the last thing he broke, and she wasn’t sure how she could feel both angry and happy about that wooden boat that would probably give Simon a swimming lesson sooner or later, and even if Simon wanted it or not.
Yeah, kind of sad, I don’t know why. Afterwards, we read the text next to the painting. ‘The Seine Banks at Argentueil’ by Édouard Manet was partly painted en plain air, the people in the painting is Manet’s wife and child and it’s a ‘joyful’ painting.
When even the ceiling amazes you, you know it’s a crazy good art gallery.
In this room, you find many portraits of royalties from the 16th and 17th century. The Habsburg fellah Philip III stood right behind me here, reminding me that I had to study the 30 years war when I got home. Thanks, Phil.
The painting I wrote about earlier; ‘Head of Seedo’ by Leon Kussoff. I think it was both one of the ugliest and most mesmerising paintings I saw in the gallery that day.
Another of the rooms in the gallery, which has a lot of beautiful objects too. That’s another reason I want go back there soon again; it was almost too much to take in during one evening.
We were supposed to do free-writing on our own after the Award Session. I don’t know why I fell for this painting, but I think it was the colours. (It’s ‘Antibes’ by Claude Monet). And the fact that nature is often something I get inspired by. To remember, I’m just going to write down my free-writing to this one too:
If this was the last sight I’d see in this world, I would both feel so lonely and so full of life in the same breath. There was nothing spectacular about it really, no brilliant view that I hadn’t seen before. But maybe it was that; the familiar sight of mountains somewhere in the distance, and a calm moment of loneliness even though the birds almost could be heard and the wind almost could be felt. How could this view feel like the most mesmerising thing I ever seen? Was it the fact that I was able to disconnect from arguing, questioning and other souls but mine? Did I try to give this tree a meaning while sitting on a wooden bench in a gallery, writing on a piece of paper (the hundred written paper that day)? Maybe.
A small part of the exhibition in the gallery right now; ‘Rodin and Dance: The Essence of Movement’.
Before the dark fell, I manage to crawl behind the curtains of the gallery to capture the view of Somerset house. Now I’ve discovered about 2 % of the building. 98 % to go!