Some inspiration can’t be bought online. However…
If you drop by Dancing Beastie from time to time, you might perhaps have noticed a slowly-growing column of images tucked down at the bottom of the right-hand side of the page. It goes by the catchy headline, ‘Inspiring me this month’.
Here is where I put links to books and music that have captured the spirit of the moment for me. I began it in October 2012, fresh from a week’s art course in Venice, when I was bubbling over with enthusiasm for La Serenissima and her cultural treasures. The first link I put on my ‘inspirations’ column was, therefore, to a CD of the sort of resonant choral music I had heard during High Mass in St. Mark’s Basilica; a CD which I listened to over and over again in the following weeks.
Back home in Scotland, the year was mellowing into a golden autumn, a season for cooking up comforting dishes and sharing firelit evenings with those you love. Some friends visiting from south-west England brought with them the perfect cookbook to inspire me for the shortening days, which again I wanted to share here.
Gradually, the column of inspirations grew, a mixture of the reading and listening that breathed life into each month or which best encapsulated my current interests. Oddly enough, however, I don’t think that I have ever mentioned it in a post. Perhaps I felt that reviews were best left to more experienced critics; certainly I felt that it was not up to me to try to persuade anyone else to see the world through my eyes. If anyone wanted to follow one of the links, fine: if not, fine.
On reflection, I think that this attitude was rather disingenuous. What is a blog, after all, if not an attempt to show others the world through your own eyes? From now on, then, when I add an item to that list, I will say a bit about it and try to explain why I find it inspiring.
So, the book on Winifred Nicholson which I have belatedly added, for example: it was published for an exhibition of her work at the National Gallery of Scotland in 2003, but I have been re-reading it because of the bluebells, which made me remember her vision of the colour spectrum and of the special qualities of violet. For her, she explained, ‘ “Violet is the colour of highest tension, the colour only visible in its beauty at moments of high vitality and clearest sunlight…It calls to a colour beyond itself on the scale, a colour that our eyes cannot see, although we know that it is there by the power of its ultraviolet rays. Maybe we shall see this colour some day when we have trained our eyes more precisely.” ‘ (W. Nicholson quoted in Winifred Nicholson in Scotland, Alice Strang, NGS, Edinburgh 2003.)
Occasionally there are gaps in my ‘inspirations’ list, sometimes lasting several months. This does not necessarily mean that inspiration has been lacking completely in those periods; although there have been patches of mental inertia, of course. More often, however, it means that my main inspiration at the time has been either nature itself – in which case the blog posts are my outlet – or my faith, which is intangible and un-pinnable. The word ‘inspiration’ itself derives from the Latin ‘to breathe into’: the breath of the Holy Spirit is not something you can buy from online bookshops! So I might sometimes refer to a book on the subject which is helping me along, but I shall not be proselytizing here.
There is something beginning next week, however, which I am very excited about and which you can acquire online. Remember that art course in Venice which I mentioned? It was run by an artist friend of mine, Rachel Hazell, and she is about to begin a brand new course of papery inspiration and guidance for aspiring bookbinders and artists – through the internet! There will be daily tutorials and plenty of interaction with other like-minded souls. I have cleared a desk and got my linen thread and washi tape and paper ephemera ready. I have warned my family that as of next week I am, for at least one hour (preferably more) every day, I am Otherwise Engaged.
It starts on Monday. I can’t wait. And I think I can already guess the subject of next month’s inspiration.
My introduction to Rachel’s book art courses – and to the delights of ancient Innerpeffray Library – can be found in ‘They say that life’s the thing…but I prefer books’.