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Monday, 31 January 2011

The Pigeons 1957

'At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is.' T.S Eliot, Burnt Norton

This is about living for the moment, this point here, this moment of dancing and joy. Barcelona already feels like a distant memory but these lines from Eliot's Burnt Norton were with me as I walked the streets. I met an odd man named Mino Bambino who gave me some simple, yet important advice; 'past is tears, future is fears, live for now'. As he said it I remembered Eliot and how he had written it with such great eloquence and with so much more magic than Mino Bambino. It is this painting by Picasso: The Pigeons, Les Pigeons, Els Colomins, which captures this wisdom for me.

In the Museu Picasso Picasso's pigeon painting was displayed with photographs of Picasso on a balcony surprising pigeons from some branches. The photograph captures the pigeons in flight and a mischievous glee in Picasso's eyes. The painting was itself a window in a room filled with ceramics and light. Those Mediterranean years, and then, finally, there is the sea and the birds looking out. Art is all about our associations, our stories and emotions. When I saw this painting I mapped a set of stories on to it which are now inextricably a part of the fabric of the canvas.

First I saw my own surprised joy at discovering that it was canaries making the music in the trees in the park:

And then, my own pigeon story which happened a few days later, when I stumbled upon this square in which the pigeons appeared to levitate, shifting with the secret forces of crumbs and kindness laid out on stone:

And finally of course, there is the Barcelona sea, and me looking out:

I wonder if I have done what T.S Eliot and Mino Bambino asked me not to. Am I locking memory and past all in to the moment? But these memories are so much about moments, about flights and liberations, that I don't feel guilty for doing it.


  1. "Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind/Cannot bear much reality"

  2. i enjoyed this one. nice interplay.