“Waiting to be free” (20×20″, acrylic on canvas) is currently part of the Landfall Exhibition at the Otago Art Society. This exhibition is a fusion of the worlds of art and literature. Landfall is a literary journal published by Otago University Press since 1947 that showcases New Zealand poets, writers and artists. Artists were invited to create an artwork inspired by content in a past issue of the magazine. We also had to provide a statement about our inspiration.
This is my statement:
LANDFALL 93, March 1970
An advertisement on the inside cover for “The Beatles’ Illustrated Lyrics as seen by Alan Aldridge and selected artists” was the first thing that caught my attention. The idea of creating a work inspired by a Beatles’ song seemed full of possibility. “Blackbird”, with its theme of taking brokenness and finding freedom, was my song of choice, but an image eluded me.
Putting that idea on hold, I went through the issue again, stopping at a short story by John Monteith titled “Story for a Chair for my Room”. It told of a woman leaving a relationship and walking away from her home into the evening. Inspiration grew out of the imagery in her story – “Outside the effect of the dark was enveloping so that beneath the hood of her duffle coat she seemed to have double protection against the world.” “She moved between shadow and indefinite yellow light…” Walking through the park, she stopped at the pavilion to smoke a cigarette and noticed a bird flying high in the sky. “As she stood excitedly and looked directly overhead she became aware of the many many birds, so high, each flying so very straight north-east.”
I realised my inspiration had come full circle. The words of “Blackbird” could be echoing the theme of this woman’s story. Birds feature symbolically in both, even to her finding a sparrow with a broken wing along her path. The words of the song and the words of the story morphed into the inspiration for this painting and left me wondering… how long had she waited to be free, as she flew into the light of the dark black night?
As usual the inspiration and the art that emerged was a journey. Even though the painting portrays the woman in the story, the theme also feels very personal. That desire to be free from all that holds us back… waiting for that moment…
Yours always in art,