Monday, August 08, 2016

Words and Art

Because of the disruptions of war, I missed out on the education that I should have been exposed to at that time.
So I had no idea until later in life that writing was so creative and such fun. And perhaps I would never have got started had I been told that I must understand grammar to be able to write.
When embarking on the business of words, it was to produce five copies of a book on my ideas about early American history when I was in America around 1970.
These books were each illustrated with my own lino-cut prints. But I was not concerned about the artwork but about the punctuation of the text.
So I consulted my life-long friend at Yale, Edmund S. Morgan, who happened to be America’s authority on the subject of the Founding Fathers and author of many key works on that period. Of all people, he should know the answers to my queries on punctuation. “There are no rules,” he said.
So in the early 1980s, when I came to write after a car accident that prevented me from continuing to sculpt large pieces of wood, I used words and sentences as I might see and create shapes in the chunks of trees that had become my chosen material.
That is, I would make words flow as my eye might follow patterns of wood and grain, and then, perhaps, stop to concentrate on detail. I was shaping ideas into words in a fluid kind of way.
The transitions and tangents in my life after flying aeroplanes in wartime, to designing in the theatre, to landscape painting, to sculpture, then writing and back to painting, have all been minimal.
It is ideas that count. And turning ideas into different forms of artistic expression seem to come to me like I breathe.
Those who would read my books, articles and blogs are most probably scornful of my use of language and its presentation. But I don’t care.
I just let ideas flow out in my visual art and writing, and that’s it – good or bad.
Ed Morgan was quite right. “There are no rules”.

Perhaps having had no education because of the war was not such a bad thing after all.W