Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

Art is as important to the human psyche and physical body as air is, as oxygen, as water. And alas, because it's not something we can quantify reliably, we tend to think art is a luxury. Art is not a luxury. The artist is so necessary in our lives. The artist explains to us, or at least asks the questions which must be asked.
Maya Angelou

Sometimes I get so much more than I expect out of a quote like this.  I liked the quote, I thought it spoke in defence of the arts, of giving the arts a place that makes them important to the everyday; not just to special occasions; like an essential household good, not simply a luxury item. And so I chose to think and ponder about it.

I thought first of all I should go check out the author - and discovered a wonderful woman. I guess each country has its wonderful women who inspire and encourage and who act as beacons; but they don't always cross over to other countries, other cultures, and I had definitely missed Maya Angelou on my way through. As I read through her website, I wanted to go out and buy all her books and read her words and poems and biography. So...looks like its off to the book shop for me when I get the chance.

We are facing a Federal budget here in Australia that will be very tight and very tough. We have had a lot of natural disasters that destroyed infrastructure, crops, homes and businesses and the Government has commitments to help rebuild. We also kept our economy going thru the GFC; but are about to pay the price I think. And I worry that the first and easiest of cuts will be to the arts - performing, visual and literary I expect. What a shame that the short-term political cycle cannot see how we need the arts to add beauty to our lives; to inspire and give people a sense of living being worth so much more than dollars in and dollars out. The arts can help explain the world in ways that economics can't - they help express ideas and concerns and moments of pure beauty.

Sigh. Perhaps I'll be proven wrong...

I probably won't get to see the Federal Budget (we usually watch it, tragic I know) as we expect to be back in Umbakumba on Groote Eylandt (more soon!) where there is no TV, no mobile coverage and no email. That kind of explains a bit  of silence from us in the last little while. We are home for 3 days over Easter and it is bliss just being back in our quiet, beautiful place.

Detail - Monet's waterlilies in L'Orangerie, Paris.
I think Claude Monet understood the importance of the arts. My favourite of all the arts in Paris is the basement in Musee de L'Orangerie. Custom-built circular walls to house four massive waterlily panels painted by  Monet as a gift to the nation after the horror of the First World War. He gave the gift because after all the ugliness, death and despair, his country needed something beautiful; something to remind them of beauty and to give them hope.

We still need such things today, every day.


  1. budget.... politics.... {shudder}

    hope you have a peaceful creative easter xx

  2. Ronnie - an exquisitely expressed shudder! Yes, hoping for a quiet and creative few days at home - after we've sorted the weeds and the house.

  3. Monet's gift is powerful. Even with budgets what they are many places (ours is under siege I fear) artists will continue to give.

    I once watched a woman make the most beautiful arrangement of bark, moss, sticks, stones and shells on her picnic table at a campground. Nothing but what nature provided yet she gave the gift of art. I'll never for get it.

  4. It is interesting that the most oppressed people in history have a rich artistic tradition. There are so many inspiring Jewish and Russian musicians, writers, and painters. My point is that you can't legislate this out of people. Art will survive.

  5. L'Orangerie does it for me every time. I'll never forget my first visit there, not knowing what I was about to experience. Some amazing artwork rose out of the Haiti earthquake when people had nothing. I'm hopeful it will emerge in other stricken areas.

  6. i think about what a culture is known by: all the arts, sciences perhaps, and what is always cut, the arts always go first. we can hold the book of kells (for example) but what do we know of the local politics of the time. the local sports stars? what do we care? sigh.

  7. Ain't that the truth - in reference to your comment "We still need such things today, every day." Art can provide so much joy and comfort.....

  8. Yes the arts speak of and to the soul, & so they endure.
    Thank-you, Fiona, for making me aware of the Musee de l'Orangerie. I didn't know of it, but it is definitely on our list now.

  9. Leslie - yes it was a powerful gift and you are right that art is there to be made and given freely (should we wish) - no matter who's running the country

    Jo - good point - it will survive which is grand; I'd love it thrive as well!
    OH Annie - it's a stunning and breathtaking place isn't it? I just sat in silent awe and wonder the first time I saw it (I was in my early 20s) and was equally enthralled in 2008. I expect much beauty will rise from these disasters...

    V- So true! Art remains and continues whilst so much other stuff disappears; just a shame we have to work so hard to get it there in the first place!

    K- Yes today and every day...

    Amanda - It's a special place - just the basement; altho there are masters throughout the gallery the basement is simply stunning. Enjoy!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.