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Saturday, 1 January 2011

A final highlight from 2010

2010 was the year I started writing about Art. It has always been my dream to be a writer, although I often I doubt my capability. This year I discovered that in Art I can find an inspiration that appears to make my writing possible. This was an experiment in creative writing inspired by individual works of art after I went to see the amazing Tate Britain show about Chris Ofili. Ofili's old work made me cry, as I had studied it for so long but never had the chance to see it in the flesh. I needed a little more time with the new paintings as they were so different to what I knew.

1.1 Dance in Shadow

I am overwhelmed by the darkness; the darkness which swirls about me and sweeps around me in to oblivion. The lunar eclipse has extinguished all colour. There exists no memory of it, no trace in this waste land. How can I imagine, in this waste land?

‘Now the paintings talk, and I listen’ he says. I listen, I want to hear. Like holding a seashell to your ear; I soak up sunny colours like guava nectar and drink of that deep, deep, voidless blackness. Purple and yellow and orange in its dark, mysterious orbit. The colour lingers on. It lingers on but is swamped by palm fronds of darkness and absent trees that tower and sway above someone, somewhere.

Softly, for a moment, I believe it will take me there. Like light breaking through the sweeping rush of dark leaves as I sit and wait the colour begins creeping out. An orange-rind sunset-seeping of oil from between leafy fingers I hold up to the light, to see if my fingers will glow. I keep hearing English tunes and try to blot them out. I could have danced all night. I’ll be seeing you. Striking discordant with the steely rhythms of colour.

This is the closest I have ever come to Trinidad. Perhaps it is the closest I will ever be.

Have I forgotten the lovers? The lovers who dance in the mango glow. The lovers who dance in shadow.

They are everything; sweeping onto the canvas in a rush of black and waltzing out in the whispery traces of light. Feetless; as if dancing on midnight air. What dance have they strayed from? What cruel lights have chased them away?

And she; the smile that tangos across her lips is her only distinguishable feature. And he; touched by her purple-passion-fruit vibrancy would be otherwise lost in the dark. She draws him to her with that bright arm.

I wonder if he will kiss her? I stop looking, close my eyes and listen. The colour persists; a sketchy map on my eyelids. The imprint of her papaya tinged aura, which marks out her unclasped waist and the swooping bell of her skirt, shimmers before me. They are forbidden lips that wait and their dance is banished to leafy shadows.

Here, in this vegetative glade, in the pitch of night, I am the only intruder. They swirl and sweep, tracing the endless patterns of their dance. I witness all, but the secret is safe with me.

In the gallery shop I buy a postcard of my trip to Trinidad. I forget to buy a stamp.


  1. I for one am glad you began writing about Art in 2010 and I wish you every success in writing more in 2011 as I learn something new with each and every post you write, even if the art itself is not to my taste. Your writing challenges me and I hope you write many more posts of such high quality. You make me want to run out and buy more Art books so I can study in greater depth. When the public library opens after the Bank Hol i shall reserve a copy of Kafka on the Shore. A very Happy New Year to you Frangipan.

  2. i enjoyed your poetic interpretation. i wish that more art critique was done in this fashion.
    so often the reveiwer spends too much time on
    "facts" or historical context. the personal response is always more rewarding.keep it up.
    happy new year!

  3. I have started the creative writing course with OU. My current "short story" was of a couple who went to see the Gauguin exhibition and were "changed". Wish I had read your rich evocations before I sent my pallid words off for assessment. Happy New Year.

  4. Thank you for all your lovely comments, and a Happy New Year to you all too. I'm glad you like this, as I was a little nervous about posting it. Chillsider your story sounds really interesting, I would like to see it! Art definitely has stories and emotions within it, we just have to find them!

  5. Your best yet Frangipani? I agree with Dolly I want More Art Gallery trips. I got Kafka on the Shore from Guardian Books and I an now dying to finish it, and perhaps discuss it.
    You can write and touch emotions.