I have been ridiculously premature in choosing my Word of the Year for 2022. My soul has suddenly hit fast-forward and decided to shine a torch on Christmas when it should be narrowing its beam to illuminate the coming month. Thus the far-distant change of year has been occupying my mind, which I’ll admit is far from being an unhappy train of thought.
I’ve decided next year needs to be a year of Renaissance and so I’m choosing that as my word. Whilst the root of the word (from the French) refers to rebirth, it appeals to me even more for the association with the flourishing of culture and learning during the Italian Renaissance. I have a growing feeling that what I need next year is for life to become warmer and richer, with access to stimulating and expansive ideas. Where rebirth suggests spring with sharp green shoots pushing through the dark winter soil, renaissance is a festival of burgundy and gold, trees heavy with fruit, rich velvets and damasks, the air throbbing with the music of mandolins. If renaissance is a rebirth, then it is the rebirth of maturity, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen it to guide my path in 2022.
Staying with an arty theme, over the Bank Holiday weekend there was an exhibition of work by local artists in the The Forum at Norwich and a friend had suggested a visit. I love a good art exhibition and whilst I criticise with abandon, it is always in the knowledge that the very worst item on display is a hundred times better than anything I could produce, even if I devoted the rest of my life to art. The exhibition was very interesting, with a pleasing variety of styles and levels of maturity. I enjoyed playing a game with myself guessing which artists were younger and which were older, although I’m not entirely sure this was to do with actual age so much as the amount of experience they had in their art. I associate artists in their early years with works of passion, experimentation, breaking boundaries. More established artists, who have many years of experience behind them, create with a defter touch and a confidence in what they are conveying, though that may be at the cost of the raw abandon of creativity. The best retain the passion of youth and combine it with the technical expertise of age.
There were works I loved in the exhibition and others that I disliked. Some artists didn’t gel with me at all, which doesn’t mean their art was in any way substandard or unworthy, and definitely reveals more about my aging, middle-class standards than it does about their exhuberant enthusiasm for their subjects. Some artists had a definite theme in the works they had chosen to display, and others seemed to be up for anything at all which was definitely interesting. I found that I was more drawn to the abstract works than the landscapes and portraits, although there were stand-out items in every genre. There was a very clever artist who had worked with commercially available stickers, layering them like paint to create an image. One artist had produced a series of related works, all of which had pictures of bums collaged into them which was… challenging. The main subject of each work did not lead one to expect a random bum or five so it was definitely rather odd. Given that the point of art is sometimes cited as the desire to arouse curiosity, to get people to stop and consider and explore their own approach to the universe, the bum pictures were definitely successful.
I saw five (or two, depending on how you look at it) works that I would happily have bought and hung on my walls, but luckily I’m guarding my money closely for the next couple of months. One picture was of a large vase of flowers and I was particularly drawn to the colour choices, which were slightly at odds with my usual taste. The background combination of a warm-toned pink and a citrus green initially jarred, yet as I studied the picture the whole effect made me feel very happy and I think it would be great to have such a joyful item in my life. The other four formed a set, although any one would have been lovely on its own. These were tiny abstracts in shades of blue and white, with a feel of swirling seas about them. They were neat and calm, and so very much in line the things I usually opt for that they could have been painted especially for me.
My friend very kindly bought me two cards as souvenirs of the exhibition. My choice included one which depicted a work by Corrin Tulk, titled “Renaissance”. This was a perfect piece of serendipity and of course it had to come home with me, if only in miniature greeting card form.
Our visit was perfectly rounded off by coffee and quite the most delicious cheese scones in John Lewis, meandering home via a couple of shops to view Paperblanks’ Day at a Time planners which my friend uses to journal.
All in all, I’m awarding this outing top marks for entertainment on a bank holiday weekend.