Seven minutes to break your heart…..
There is something fundamental about masks. We have worn them throughout the ages and we wear them figuratively every day. The work of Damselfrau, working name of artist Magnhild Kennedy, is a stunning example of the power and beauty of the Mask.
In Visual Atelier 8, Damselfrau was asked:
It can be argued that the mask exists as an art object, as an investured pseudo personae, as a hiding space, as a symbolic representation, or even as a simple cultural adornment. With this multimodality of meaning in mind, is the mask as everything here stated, and more, or might it in your view, possess one quintessential overarching quality?
In reply she said: The main power is transformative. Most of all it’s simply just fundamentally human, isn’t it?
I also think some things exist past our ability to fully articulate them. A mask belongs there. A part of me wants to know the what and how of them… but then I step back, step back and allow the magic to be there free from dissection and cognitive comprehension. Much like ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, dissecting something magical robs it of its power and removes its mystery, it takes something wondrous and places it into the mundane.
For me, and it is very personal how creatives tackle this, the alchemy of creating stories and the writing process are in that same situation. I don’t want to dissect a story, I don’t want to disect why it has come to me, or why I am driven to create it; I simply want to be in the experience of creating it.
Damselfrau says something similar about her mask making, she says she doesn’t plan, she just remains present with the mask as it is made, following the journey the materials take her, not trying to plan or ‘design it’ as such.
In my stories, I specifically leave some of the aspects of character and motivation unexplained not only to the reader but to myself as the writer. As a reader and even as a the writer, its comforting to know, to ‘see behind the mask’ of a character. But by getting that insight into a character we categorize them, slip them into a box. Their magic leaks away. Stories and the characters in them need magic and power to make you love them, to have them resonate with their symbolic and archetypal lineage.
The other element of not fully explaining a character is that we are ostensibly hidden from ourselves. We don’t fully know why we do what we do and why we feel as we do, even if we think we do. When I write I don’t always look for answers so much as congruency, that sense that the flow of a character feels right to itself. I think a character can’t be fully revealed and consciously resolved to themselves. As we have our figurative masks in life they do too; they can be resolved to a satisfying level to the reader but not fully and most certainly not to themselves.
As a writer, I find the process of writing one that almost asks me to step into a character much like stepping into the mask, placing it on and looking through it, imbuing oneself with its world view and the world’s view of it.
Have a look at her work and see what you might wear ….. I have chosen some above that would easily part of Elsa’s world….
I am a great believer in the role of beauty to shift consciousness.
The impact of a breathtaking vista, the perfection of a fern frond as it unfolds, the prisms of light as they shine for the smallest moment through a drop of rain. Beauty acts on us like displays of the human spirt; which are profoundly moving, inspiring and highly charged. Beauty I feel, hits us as hard but deep under the surface. It’s like when you are in the presence of perfect form, when the mathematics align and the whole is at the same time so perfectly natural, something inside you aligns with it and starts to shift to that frequency.
Karin Weber writes:
Amid so many insecurities in the world today, Małgorzata Chodakowska uses the uncompromising nature of her works to arrive at a sense of a security. Her medium is wood. usually from uprooted trees. The wood grains from the tree trunks of basswood, pear. cherry and oak come alive and follow her as she removes layers of wood to reveal larger-than-life sized ﬁgures. neo-realistic nude ﬁgures. clad ﬁgures, and busts – a process whereby the wood seems to shed its skin. the wood itself appears to be turned inside out. The ﬁgures are a continuation of the growth of the trees themselves. sprouting ﬁrst from the earth and then ﬁnding themselves rooted within the artist and her dreams, expectations and demands. her self image and her personal experiences. Behind the daily passions which remain hidden for most of us. the artist reveals what really moves people. as she exposes the timeless beauty of the creation of a human being
Her works are a romantic phenomenon in our present time. a time in which countless artists reject beauty in the name of modernity and denounce it as a “bad habit”. And what a great mistake that is! After all, beauty is a most basic need for all of us. read more here
Naturally given what I write, I think love is a form of beauty and the body a form of art. In The Painted Heart and in the subsequent series of The Painted Sisters, the body as a canvas and a form of living art is explored. In The Bound Heart I touch on the dichotomy between nudity in art and in life, the grey zone of porn and eroticism. Chodakowska uses the human form often naked or clad in ‘the wet look’ to fully show form and shape. There is a deep seated sensuality that comes from nature, through the wood, and often encased in metal. Elemental as it shifts us into our own natures.
Tutt Arts writes:
Chodakowska lifts her craftsmanship in wood and bronze to the magical world of experience in which the balance between beauty and perfection delivers the most beautiful tension. Her angelic figures radiate an paradise type authority, intriguing and most irresistibly attractive. The suggestion of perfection, the challenging energy of an equally powerful as subdued seduction. Her work is obviously highly respected in nowadays top sculpture art market.
Chodakowska studied sculpture art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1985). She continued her study at the Art Academy in Vienna (1988). In 1991, Chodakowska completed her dissertation in Vienna (Bruno Gironkoli). She has been honored with the highly selective granted ‘Masterclass Award ☞’. Read more here.
Meg Cowell is a photographic artist based in Melbourne, Australia, who submerges clothes and photographs them.
Symbolically she is interested in the transformative power of feminine clothes, inspired by fairy tales, children’s stories and also literature like Ophelia. The idea that the down trodden, or ordinary girl’s transformation into a princess is shown through the gown / change in fashion.
Her symbolism really attracted me while writing The Bound Heart, where the heroine Olive Thompson finds a path to independence through art embroidery and fashion.
The role of sewing and embroidery in Victorian times were often roads of liberation for women who had to support themselves at the loss or abandonment of a husband. This role has often been denigrated or undervalued. However, women took this field of work and used it to quietly build independent lives (seamstress) and to establish themselves as artists (art embroidery).
It was also an area of real activism. The great debate around the corset, was used in women’s literature at the time to represent the corseted nature of women in society. Novelists had their female character express some of her radicalism through dress, as in the New Woman by stepping away from expected dress patterns. The releasing of the corset and the rise of suffragettes can’t be seen separately when women and her clothing are so closely linked.
This relationship to clothes and their ability express our position in society, and also act as a vehicle to transform our place in society and our view of ourselves is still very present.
Have a look at the video’s below of Meg’s work, they are amazingly beautiful and quietly powerful.
All writers have a muse and I think they are all hard task masters. My muses (and there are more than one and they do gang up on me!) tend to make me write things I think I shouldn’t. I tried to steer them in other directions and they marched off and refused to talk to me until I went back and wrote what I was given. When I do this, invariably the answer to why a character or a plot turn needed to be a certain way becomes apparent. I’ve now come to a point where I slide my mental head shaking aside and push forward to see where we land.
The consequence of all of that muse following is that I find myself writing in a somewhat less defined landscape of romance than I had intended. I write what would be best termed Victorian historical that has a somewhat gothic eroticism or perhaps borderline dark romanticism (I’m way to romantic and hopeful to fall fully in either category). Hopelessly Devoted 2 Books reviewed my first book, The Veiled Heart, released in July this year saying “This story is very unlike anything else on the market at the moment! Yes, it’s certainly erotic, and yes, it’s a historical romance…but it’s so much more than either of those things!”
I think it’s the Victorianism which lends itself to presenting a more troubled character and different strata’s of society. It’s a time when we really started to build the foundation of our modern society, issues back then reflect our current issues and the mass of sexuality rippling under the surface of a corseted façade is a wonderful landscape to explore the social and value constructs we still carry.
Aside from the churning society, the gothic curiosities and eroticism, The Veiled Heart is a deep, rich story of true love. I think it’s a very romantic read. I have a snippet below to give you a feel for it. Also if you’re interested in staying in touch about my next release called The Bound Heart, a book about the unravelling of a Victorian bookbinder come shibari rope master, sign up for my newsletter below.
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Snippet from the beginning of The Veiled Heart
Miriam couldn’t say how long it was before he lifted from her and tapped his cane on the cab roof.
She should move but she couldn’t even open her eyes; and really, how could anyone expect her to? The cab must be full of feathers. She’d clawed up angel wings in that white cloud of bliss and she was still floating back down to the bench. Back to a life that would now look entirely different.
Gentle hands worked to straighten her skirts. There was no impetus to move. The firm but gentle administrations, adjusting her skirt, stroking her arm, small murmurs, were melting her on the inside with the soft kindness of it all. Even out of courtesy. She wanted to say something, give something back.
“Thank you; that was most enlightening.” Heat immediately rushed up her face at the absurd whisper.
Idiot; she was keeping her eyes closed, perhaps for the rest of her life.
The video is called advice to the young, but if you are in anyway creatively driven it’s a good listen.
Marina, says something that I’ve heard for writing as well. She says about performance art: “do what scares you.” As a writer we often hear “write what scares you”. I don’t think many peolpe would expect that to apply to romance as a genre but it does.
I don’t think I have really chosen anything yet that presses a lot of my buttons but I feel myself working towards that. Yet things still challange me as I write. I find that writing the conflict in the story can involve a lot of getting up and walking around and forcing myself back behind the keys and forging through the tension and getting it on the page. I can be known to leave a conflict and start a new story in the misplaced hope the tension will ease… it doesn’t, lol.
To write you are connected to your characters, and in a way you channel and translate their experiences into words. The biggest faux par as a writer is to under cut the depth of the character’s experience because it is too uncomfortable to wade through it with them as their biographer.
Thematically, I am attracted to stories and characters that reflect emotional and personal courage and exploring the release of old wounds through acts of deep intimacy. They are areas we can easily talk about academically and nod our heads at their importance when living a meaningful life. However, it would be interesting to see on reflection if that is how we have actually lived our life. We are not given many opportunities to demonstrate emotional courage and to undertake and embrace acts of deep intimacy. In reality we may only ever have a few occasions in our life that demand we step up right then and there and be in the moment with courage and vulnerability.
I find both of these areas very challenging. And have fail more than once. I have also succeeded.
I admire my characters willingness to undertake those acts. What it means that I write them I am not sure…..
Another wonderful Russian Photographer. Kareva Margo. Along with the traditional areas of photographic work (wedding, portraits and commercial etc), she has a passion for bringing fantasy and fairytale to life. Images of princesses and witches with shamanic symbolism and rich colours draw you into the images and set your imagination wandering. Many of her photos contain animals and express a connection with them, a communion or shared nature.
When I saw her work, it had the feel of the images I am getting for some new storys I am panning for 2016. A moodiness that has the feel of the other world, of deeper layers and meaning. A sense that we are connected with a world past the veil of ordinary sight and sometimes that veil lifts….
Here is a link to Margo’s work. http://kareva-margo.ru/#portfolio
My name is Margarita Karev.
I live in Ekaterniburge (Russia)
The main directions of my business:
• The organization and carrying out of photos abroad
• Individual staged photo shoots
• Wedding photography
• Art projects
• advertising photography
I work with a great team of professionals (stylists and designers) who help me to realize any of your fantasies to life 🙂
This is just wonderful to watch. I guess it is the unfolding and evolution on what we saw was beauty.. as well as the evolution of art as the vehicle for that expression.
I just have to share this amazing human being. The wonderful world-wide-web bumped me into the work of Ray Collins, Photographer. Incredibly beautiful photography of the sea. Interestingly he is colour blind and said that it has most likely made him more aware of shape, movement and light. You can see that in his work, the architectural forms that are reminiscent of Henry Moore. The shades of light we might see in glass blowing. Nice video below introducing him and his work.
Henri Rousseau’s paintings animated. Just beautiful!!
The official Video of Son Lux song “Easy”
Sharing a wonderful video via Nicolette Hugo.. puts me in mind of Jamie…the bookbinder in The Bound Heart.
“Some beautiful suspension bondage…poetry in motion” Nicolette Hugo
I have a love of art where we can feel the humanity of the artist, their expression of self in the world around them, their spirit. I feel that Daniel’s work has those qualities. Each piece draws me in and shows me clues to a dialog, almost like I am a voyeur in his inner landscape. For me, his work dances between the logical, digital expression of words and concrete thoughts and the analogical of feelings and currents moving underneath the surface. As the viewer I have a puzzle of pieces that tug at the mind and the heart simultaneously to solve it.
As I sink into a piece and start drawing out a story, it is almost more a reflection of me in a way. What I see and what I think it means. I could ask Dan and find out what he was expressing was something quite different but I know that he would think my journey with his art equally valid.
I think once a piece of art is created and set into the world, much like a child steps into the world, the art starts to create a life of its own. A relationship with their viewer that can be quite unique from the one it has with the artist who created it.
This piece intrigued my hungry romance writer’s mind. Even now my eyes rove over it looking for clues, did he leave? Was there someone else? Was it for money … a job? Are we at the cross roads right now deciding to turn that corner, to take that path or not?
I have nothing to say, I have nothing to say is a heart beat all over the background, it tells us so much actually needs to be said. It reminds me of being in that moment, at the irreversible cross road of the heart….
WOW… That’s just one!! Each has a journey you sink into.
Here is a sample for Daniel’s latest 2 Collage series
Elsa: What is Art Beats about?
Dan: Art Beats is where art imitates life and is seen as a direct extension of bodily functions and diverse human feelings, an essential component/organ of our existence, hence the analogy between Art and Heart.
Elsa: How about Dan around the world ?
Dan: Dan around the World, are pictures that I have taken on some of my trips which are integrated in a mix media collage. Together they form association of random words and sentences juxtaposed together in meaning to create & represent capsules of my traveler’s imagination
Elsa: What are some of your favorite materials:
Dan: My favorite media is varied at the moment: brown paper, newspaper, pages of books, prints of all kinds, written words found on the street, torn posters + my own pics + acrylics, gold leaf, varnish, sprays, inks, glue
Dan around the World
You can find Dan’s earlier work Variations + Portraits, here: http://www.neoimages.net/artistportfolio.aspx?pid=1582
He is also on Instagram at danlefrt
Art by Dan ( exhibition introduction)
Daniel Lefort’s eclectic works of paper and acrylic tones come together with the sleekness of a blade, the wisp of a brush and sometimes even the crackling of Styrofoam! His technique of layering color and textile gives a unique depth to his pieces. Originally from France, Lefort now resides in Quebec, where he has spent the last twenty years cultivating his unique brand of talent. His premier collection depicting abstract and figurative themes on post cards later became available for purchase. This series of invented portraits integrates vibrant colors, cut-outs, script and sporadic bits of green. A summon to create led this self-inspired artist to discover and delve into new forms. An artist of varied genre, Lefort uses, in a parallel fashion, two styles. His abstract pieces integrate both paper and script under a display of detailed color. Sensitive to the creative approach of de Stael, Rothko, and Féron, Daniel Lefort’s paintings are full abstraction in naïve figuration. Their contours reinforce this impression. However, his forte doesn’t stop there. It pursues intricate simplicity found within the processing of the patterns.
Beatrice Wood lived until she was 105 and was an active potter through her 90’s. When asked what her secret was she said “I owe it all to art books, chocolate and young men.” Those things which inspires us and make us happy.
I find her attitude and creative spirit an inspiration. Being who you are and following your passions are fundamental to being ‘here’, present in life as well as living a meaningful and happy life. That doesn’t mean you have to be an artist or do something extra ordinary, I think it means if you want to sit on the front deck with a coffee, feel the sun on your feet and watch people walk by…do it. Of course we live together as communities so play nice goes without saying, the key is finding your place in a way that expresses you. It could be as simple as your open authentic presence.
I have a thing about centenarians and really want to be one as well. The few interviews I have seen have shown people who are at peace with themselves and who they are. I think that is one of the most challenging and rewarding things to achieve.
Gothic Victorian: Penny Dreadful Season 2 trailer starts May 2015
My friend Catherine Winther had this on her tumbler and it was so good to see it again. Every time I watch it I tear up. I think we all know that there are some loves where the feeling always remains even when the relationship doesn’t.
“Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again. At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing it and this is what happened.”
Here is a gallery show case of Dascha Friedlova’s work which she put together with music. As you can tell by my blog I just love her photographic collage work.
OK , so this is a bit off the wall but I think what Theo Jansen has made it is pretty amazing .
Strandbeest – is Dutch and is translated as Beachbeast, and if you have read any of my prose you know how I feel about beasties, LOL
This is from Theo Jansen’s webpage about his vision for his beasts.
Here is a 4 minute video but you can just watch the first bit and get the idea of what he has done if you are a ‘scanner’.
Here is a link to the site: