Tuesday, March 08, 2016

WHERE TO NEXT?

Hundreds of times in my life I seem to come to a crossroad with signs pointing in all directions and I stand there bewildered: which is the right road? Which one is my road?

Usually the befuddlement doesn't last very long simply because it's impossible to stand there gaping indefinitely at the signs. You have to keep walking. So I keep on walking in the same direction I was going when the crossroads appeared. But I still am not sure that I'm on the right road - please don't ask me to define 'right road'. All I know is that I would know if it was the right one for me.

Here I am again at crossroad number umpteen and it's to do with my artist-life which is to say, my life per se. For me, there's no separation between being and making stuff which may be called art. It's not a job or hobby or ambition but simply a characteristic, like my height or eye-colour or fingerprint. When I say I don't know if I'm on the right road, I don't mean that I'm wondering if I should be doing something else, like plumbing, or horticulture, or brain surgery. I'm not completely bonkers, there's reality, there are limitations. The art-making thing is a gift I was born with and that's that. The crossroads puzzle is about what to do with that gift which is the same thing as saying: what to do with my life? What shape should I give it?

Anyway, ruminating in this fashion I decided to put together a kind of retrospective catalogue of my paintings in the hope that the past trajectory can point the way to whatever my future (whatever's left of it!) may be. Like the photobooks of old drawings and of bookworks I made a while back, only one copy is being printed for my own use, but there's an online link that I can share.

25 comments:

marja-leena said...

What a wonderful way to show a retrospective of your work, Natalie, and surely quite the effort to put together! All looks superb, congratulations! Hope you find those new directions you seek.

Dick said...

Exactly as Marja-Leena says! And it seems that I'm confronting change too, with the poetry voice gone quiet. I'll wait until this teaching jag is over & then contemplate what might come next.

Vincent said...

Thank you for the gift of the paintings, showing them as in a gallery, where they may be enjoyed but not possessed. A remarkable collection in myriad styles, full of warmth and love of life, bursting with that inbuilt talent you speak of, & of course the dedication, hard work &c

I’m glad you call it a characteristic like eye colour or fingerprint. This tells that you don’t feel in danger of losing it.

In terms of your question, the asking is the important thing of course. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” From within or without: they come to the same thing.

Yesterday we started watching Sir Kenneth Clark’s TV series from 1969 called Civilisation. He said that art is civilisation's truest (most honest) manifestation, and compared it with barbarism, covering a period from before the Greek classical age up to the reign of Charlemagne & including the Byzantine Empire. Why is civilization important? That is the question he asks. But I think we can look beyond that question too.

If your artistic ability is simply a characteristic like eye colour or fingerpirint, is there any question to ask? “I’m at a crossroads. What am I to do with my eye colour?” Let the eyes go on seeing, that would be one answer.

Tom said...

Hullo Dear Natalie; You say that if you were on the right road you would know. This implies that you do not know and are therefore on the wrong road, which might be the right road to perdition. I should definitely take up brain surgery! :)

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Marja-Leena, thanks. It is indeed useful for me to see some of my past work in this collected manner, as if it belonged to someone else, so I can be more objective. This is the fourth photobook I've made with the Bonusprint software and I'm happy with this technology.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dick, thanks for you response. It would be good to hear your impressions of this return to teaching - maybe there's a blog post/essay/poem simmering subconsciously day by day?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Vincent, thank you. Of course I have no intention of giving up art-making anymore than I would change my eye colour (not even with coloured lenses, as some film stars do!)

My question is concerned with what vessel the innate gift needs to be poured into, if I can put it in such an inadequate way. The gift that destiny entrusts to us at birth is not something concrete, but more like a specific perfume which needs to be distilled and placed into some sort of container. I risk getting lost in this verbal fantasy so I'll just say that the 'right road' for me consists in finding this 'container'.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Tom, lucky for medicine and patients that I'm not a brain surgeon!
I hope and trust I'm not on the road to perdition...it doesn't look like that, but then what does that road look like?

As I've tried explaining in my reply to Vincent, it's not that I'm on the 'wrong' road but just that I'm looking for a particular turning, a side-road, which is hard to find and I don't have a map.

Catalyst said...

I have just been through your portfolio and I am gob-smacked at your creativity and your talent. I am thrilled that I have come to know you, Natalie.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Bruce, I'm very grateful for your appreciation. Don't know what more to say!

Hattie said...

Why aren't you famous?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

But I am, Hattie! Just not WORLD famous!

Hattie said...

Well the world had better get with it, then.

Hedgerows said...

Stunning, beautiful and touching work in the portfolio, you inspire me Natalie, even if you're going through a crossroad moment yourself. I really appreciate you sharing this too, though, as i go through them often and it's good to know t's not just me. All those different roads beckoning, but which one to take? I look forward to seeing where you go on your journey

Fire Bird said...

Oh I did enjoy looking at this! Good to meet you recently too!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Phil, thanks very much. Putting past work together in this form is certainly helpful to see where I was/am or what may be ahead. Of course it would be nice if the work was displayed on physical gallery walls but this is a good substitute.
I look forward to following the progress of your own beautiful work.


Fire Bird, thank you. Meeting you was a pleasure for me too, let me know next time you're in London and come over?

Jonz said...

Seeing your work over such a long period of time is a treat, and controlled by you no less. I like following you both in the physical sense of your self-portraits and in the art sense of what and how you paint. You have such specific eye, and I guess the fun of a "retrospective" is seeing it develop and change over time. I feel like I've been to a big show of your work. It's really wonderful Natalie, thank you.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Jonathan, I'm really happy to have your response and hope you can see some of the work "live" one of these days. Meanwhile why not do an online retrospective in this format of some of your photos? I'll send you the link to the company ho produces these photobooks, if you haven't already got it.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

"who" not "ho" !

Davoh said...

Heh. Natalie, life's journey is full of highways, byeways, crossroads and deadends (if you find one, reverse direction, find a crossroad) .. heh. 'tis the journey that's interesting.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Heh Davoh-to-whom-I've-been talking a few stories up from this floor a few seconds ago. Glad you're visiting my online home. Yes, I agree the journey's the point, not the destination. But I was only talking above about the specific crossroads that come up in my work as artist.That's a different sort of journey.

Davoh said...

Natalie, the concept of 'right' turns has always fascinated me since the British/American "right/left" divide along the roads/highway design systems.
Consider this.

Once upon a time - in not so ancient history - tracks through the forests and countryside were narrow.

Most people walked.

Horses were rare, and owned by (jumping a few years)- Barons.

Think about it. most people are 'dexter' handed.

IF self was riding a horse along a narrow track through a forest or marsh - where would i keep my weapon?
If was carrying a sword - would it be 'easier' to grab it from the 'dexter' or 'sinister' side ????

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Depends on whether you're right-handed or left-handed.

And if there where several people walking along the same narrow trak, would they move aside for you on horseback? Or would you give them the 'right' of way?

vegetablej said...

What a beautiful and personal body of work. I find a lot of it really sculptural. Have you thought of going more into 3 or more D?

One of my favourites is the Sonata for Apples and Chairs. Even the title sounds like a poem. Thank you for this most personal, strong and vibrant look at your life and work. It absolutely sings.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

vegetablej (interesting alias -do I know you by another name?) Many thanks for your appreciation. Yes I've done quite a lot of 3-D work in my life, not sculpture as such, but constructions, boxes, bookworks etc. Some of them are in another of these photobooks which can be seen online. Here's the link:

http://www.bonusprint.co.uk/share-online-photo-book/5f079b08-6c9a-40ec-a3c1-3f326080c59b

If you're interested, there's another one with some of my drawings:

http://www.bonusprint.co.uk/share-online-photo-book/0968843b-6bc1-4f79-87ab-c2ade1ff9b0e