Celebrating Poetry – And she brought me Snowdrops…

And she brought me snowdrops...

 

And she brought me Snowdrops…

Sharp strands slicing,
Stinging swallows:
Tiny throat cut,
No mercy.

Crisp cold whiteness
Thin flat sheets
Hard steel
Metal, framed.

Voice silenced;
No sound emits.
No signal –
No response.

The vast space
Echoes briskly
Attendants bustle
No relief.

Trickle of tears,
Lonely tracks
Tracing patterns,
Still, alone.

Plucked from home,
Separated,
Before three springs,
Untimely rift.

Sudden sense,
Familiar tone,
Eternal smile,
Soft arms enfold.

And She, salvation,
Maternal, golden,
Of radiant warmth,
Brought me snowdrops.

© Christine Miller

 

This poem arose from seeing a film on the BBC’s ‘The Great British Year’ of a February woodland garden in Gloucestershire, filled with snowdrops in bloom, their delicacy and beauty carpeting the ground with that fabulous first sign of winter’s end approaching.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I recalled with great clarity the time when I was about two and a half years old when I had my tonsils out. I still have strong memories of this. I can see clearly the area pre-theatre where gas cylinders and bottles of blood were stored, I feel the cold crisp linen of the hospital bed and the hard metal bars that kept me imprisoned there. I recall not being able to call out to the nurses for help. I remember the pain of my raw throat, and, acutely, the loneliness.

My beautiful Mother, Jane

My beautiful Mother, Jane

In those distant days when I was little, parents weren’t allowed into hospital with their children, and visiting hours were very strictly enforced. I was desolate, in pain,  and afraid, and when my mother did arrive with a beautiful bunch of snowdrops, and a pretty little silver hair slide, which I treasured for years, I was filled with joy and relief.

The image of those snowdrops is still fresh in my mind, all these years later, and as I watched the scene in the film, these words, ‘And she brought me snowdrops’, erupted superbly into my consciousness and demanded to be expanded, expressed and offered as a token of gratitude and Love to my dearly departed mother, whose healing, radiant presence is still with me every day.

And it also just happens to be National Poets Day today, so I dedicate this to all poets, everyone, everywhere, may your creativity flow with abundance.

Christine – for National Poet’s Day 2013

Find more of Christine’s poetry here: Soul Poet

For the Love of Art

Strarta: London’s Newest Art Fair

Marilène Oliver, Dreamcatcher, laser-cut acrylic fishing wire and ostrich feathers Beaux Arts

Marilène Oliver, Dreamcatcher, laser-cut acrylic fishing wire and ostrich feathers Beaux Arts

It’s a real honour to be speaking at the inaugural Strarta Art Fair in the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London’s Kings Road next week, and the topic of The Love of Art is, of course, particularly relevant and resonant with my research and writing for the Love at Work and Love in the Boardroom projects which currently fill my life and engage my attention.

Developing material for this talk is a rather delicious experience, combining some of my favourite interests and passions, and sending me on colourful, poetic and richly rewarding journeys into imagination, creativity, connection, inspiration – and Love.

Yes, Love, of course. Love as energy, Love as inspiration, Love as – well, a fount of great excitement and impulses to create.

I was asked to write a few paragraphs for publicity about what I’ll be talking about on October 11th, and when my words were greeted by the team with great enthusiasm, the suggestion was to share with my readers here.

For those of you who are coming along, here is a foretaste, for those who aren’t, here’s a little snippet of what I’m sure will be developing as a theme over the next few months.

Enjoy!

The Love of Art

Christine Miller asks: What do we talk about, when we talk about Love?

Some think of Love as a fluffy, soft thing, based on romance, muddied by weakness and scandal, dismissed as an irrelevance, and relegated solely to close relationships and family. Love can be taboo, and not for discussion at our work, in business, or in places where serious decisions are made.  But the kind of love of which Christine Miller speaks, which she has researched for three years, and observed as present throughout organisations and activities across the globe, evident in courageous, creative individuals, is not a weak and feeble thing. It is a strong, powerful, demanding love, inspiring, creative – a love that insists on courage, on dedication, on honesty, trust and openness. This is a tough, even fierce, kind of love, which needs much more determination, awareness and thought than the options of fear, indifference and apathy; and being truly loving is much more challenging than being closed, cold and remote.

So what do we really mean by Love?
And more particularly, what do we mean by ‘The Love of Art’?
Who are the people who have a Love of Art?
For ‘Art Lover’ is a common term used to describe a wide range of people from the dilettante to the committed expert.

When we consider the ‘Love of Art’, we can speak of those who love art and express their love by dealing in, buying, displaying and collecting art, who demonstrate their Love by supporting both artists and art. These are people whose Love expresses itself for the finished piece, and its value, in service to the creation of the finished work of art.

We can speak of the artist, the initiator and ‘imagineer’, and their consuming Love of Art. These are the essential creators, demonstrating their Love and passion for their own artistic expressions, the power of imagination, their skills, struggles, determination, their dedication, vocation and valuable gifts.

We can also speak of the critic, whose love of art drives them to seek perfection and provoke improvement. We can ask – is a critic who tears apart an artist’s work still expressing their Love of Art? This is the ‘Tough Love’ of Art, also requiring strength and courage to express.

The Love that Christine Miller will speak of at Strarta encompasses all these aspects, and propels us even further to explore the power and fuel that is Love.

For we are talking here of an energy and connection which pervades the entire universe, and is one of the strongest forces available to us, which whilst it is often carelessly, casually mentioned, is little understood and definitely under employed.

Come and explore the Love of Art expressed in the powerful relationships between the artist, their work and the many stakeholders in their artistic expression.

Christine Miller October 2013 

___________________________________________________________________________________

Strarta Art Fair

Christine Miller MA FRSA will speak about ‘The Love of Art’ at the Strarta Art Fair at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, London SW3 on Friday October 11th 2013 at 15.00

Christine is available for interview – please contact Tina Fotherby  tinafotherby@famouspublicity.com

To find out more about the venue, tickets for the exhibition and events please visit www.strarta.com

Portraying Life – Manet, Bellows & Unexpected Joy


Lunch on the Grass

Manet, Bellows and the surprising pleasure of the unknown

We were thrilled to attend a ‘friends and family’ private showing event at the Royal Academy of Arts in London last week.  It’s a superb building, Burlington House, close to Piccadilly Circus and Green Park, and the RA brings together some wonderful exhibitions.

Manet (1832–1883)

Somewhere along the line, many people will have heard of and seen French artist Édouard Manet’s famous painting ‘Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe’, or Luncheon on the Grass, even if you’re not an art afficionado. It’s a large oil painting which resides in a museum in Paris, with a smaller version in the Courtauld gallery in London, currently on show at the RA. It created a scandal when it was first aired in 1862, largely because of the female nude and the scantily clad bather, alongside two fully clad gentlemen, and a subtext which implied all kinds of (at the time) illegal, immoral and impossible things going on, but also because of Manet’s style of painting which led to him being described as ‘The Man Who Invented Modern Art’.

Manet,_Edouard_-_Le_Déjeuner_sur_l'Herbe_(The_Picnic)_(1)

The Luncheon on the Grass 1862-63

Manet once said, he ‘felt like a man who knows his surest plan to learn to swim safely is, dangerous as it may seem, to throw himself into the water’.

Berthe Morisot With a Bouquet of Violets 1872

Berthe Morisot With a Bouquet of Violets 1872

It was fascinating to see these famous and important works on display, to get up close and examine the way the paint had been applied, the ‘unfinished’ look of some, with evident brushstrokes,  the colours, the talent and flair, and also the expression of Manet’s life unfolding through his paintings. Because Manet often painted his friends and family, not only models and sitters, and he included contemporary figures such as novelist Emile Zola, poets Baudelaire and Mallarmé, Antonin Proust, and fellow artist Berthe Morisot, whose face is perhaps one of the most well-known amongst his many portraits, so there is a relevance, involvement and intimacy which is charming.

Manet’s artistic development straddled the time between the formal painted portrait as the main form of rendering one’s likeness in a lasting form, and the rapidly developing age of photography and daguerreotypes and their more immediate and realistic representation.

My sense of Manet’s work is that he brought an informality and naturalness to his portraits of people and their lives, and their interweaving with his own life, with a casualness that was daring for its time, yet retained startling realism and depiction of his subjects.

The Railway 1873

The Railway 1873

Some of the perspectives and uses of light and shade, and of so many hues of black, especially those I observed in ‘The Railway’, are stunning, and Manet rightly deserves his accolades as an inventor, if not The Inventor of Modern Art.

Some have said these paintings are not the best of his work, and there may be some gems missing from this exhibit; however for me it demonstrates his acute observations and his sympathetic and daring statements capturing life through his eyes and hands.

George Bellows (1882 – 1925)

In contrast, I had not previously encountered artist George Bellows. My loss, as I found his work most engaging and exciting. Bellows was a gifted artist who found success and fame early in life. He has been described as “one of the most innovative and versatile artists of his time”.  In 1913, at the age of 30, he became the youngest ever artist to be elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design.

His exhibit depicts Modern American Life, and as his career coincided with the industrialisation of the USA, he witnessed the rapid growth of New York, which became a frequent subject for his work.

George Bellows, Stag at Sharkey's, 1909

George Bellows, Stag at Sharkey’s, 1909
Photograph: George Bellows/The Cleveland Museum of Art, Hinman B Hurlbut Collection

His early work concentrates on boxing matches, some very gritty and earthy scenes which exude a raw power and the almost animalistic movements and postures of the boxers are visceral, you can almost smell them.

There is a vigour and life in his work which captures early 20th century America with great precision and power, the scenes of New York very much reminding me of films about gang life, and there are also many touching works illustrating the poverty and grim hardships encountered by immigrants and the underprivileged.

Bellows’ war paintings are also powerful, showing scenes from the First World War in varying forms from huge oil paintings to lithographs. They are quite disturbing in their violence and stark reality. As Bellows did not witness WWI at first hand, they were interpreted from The Bryce Report which had recounted eye witness accounts of atrocities perpetrated by the German army on Belgian citizens.

In contrast, in terms of subjects, his later works have many vibrant and invigorating cityscapes, seascapes and landscapes and scenes of winter revelry and snow which are exquisite. I was very taken with ‘Easter Snow’ and also ‘Love of Winter’, so full of life and exuberance and colour.

George Bellows, Love of Winter, 1914 Photograph: George Bellows/The Art Institute of Chicago, Friends of American Art Collection

George Bellows, Love of Winter, 1914
Photograph: George Bellows/The Art Institute of Chicago, Friends of American Art Collection

George Bellows, Easter Snow, 1915

George Bellows, Easter Snow, 1915
Photograph: Private Collection

Together with the numerous portraits of women, many of his wife, Emma, and his family, which are very tender and beautifully rendered, there is a wide scope and huge talent on display, and it was an unexpected, unanticipated joy to discover George Bellows and his thought-provoking work.

Highly recommended ****

The Manet Exhibit continues until 14th April, George Bellows until 9th June 2013.

Discover more at  Royal Academy of Arts

 

Tom Evans’ Soulwave – short, thought provoking read

 

A Short Novel With a Fast Pace and A Wake-up Call For Us All

Christine Miller

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Soulwave is a short story about a possible fascinating future, which is designed to whet the appetite for Tom’s expanded and expanding visionary work in progress, and it certainly does just that.

The self-contained story is well-researched, fantastical and compelling, woven through with hints of possible plot twists, and gives just enough hints about the characters to encourage anticipation of what is yet to come.

And it just could be a future that is waiting to happen, hidden in plain view. Mind-opening and thought provoking.
Currently FREE on Kindle and I Tunes.
Highly Recommended.

Author’s Description

At only 7000 words long, you can read the whole book in a single commute on your iPhone or Kindle.

Soulwave tells of a fictional account of a possible near-future for the Earth and humanity. It is a sober reminder of how life on this planet is special and to be treasured.

It tells of a world where the ice caps have melted, the population has renormalised and of the cosmic joke to end all cosmic jokes – as far as humanity is concerned.

It’s written to inspire people to look up in wonder and amazement and to treat every day as if it is your last. We are only here and alive by the slimmest of chances and margins. This we must be eternally grateful for.

Soulwave is a future-history – that is something that might just happen It has happened to the Earth in the past and will undoubtedly happen again – we just can’t say when. It makes any fears about global warming seem trivial.

Although the message seems terminal, the story is really about how life propagates around the Universe that we are just one small part of. It will make you realise that we are only alive on this planet at this time by the slimmest of coincidences. Our planet and solar system are very special and we should cherish them and look after them.

soulwaveKindleSoulwave

Author: Tom Evans
Website: Tom Evans
Kindle: Soulwave
ITunes: Soulwave

 

 

One Step Too Far – Tina Seskis Book Review

 See News of One Step Too Far Launch HERE

TinaSeskiscover27733-small

A Truly Compelling Read

Christine Miller 

“The heat is like another person to push past as I make my way along the platform. I board the train although I don’t know whether I should, after all.
I sit tense amongst the commuters, moving with the carriage and the crowds from my old life into my new one.”

Tina Seskis’ forthcoming book absorbed me right from the beginning. Beautifully written and well-paced, it has an endearing, fascinating and realistic set of characters, many of whom we might recognize from our own lives, with a sense of mystery, sadness, joy and anticipation. The story is powerfully told, descriptive and vivid, with twists and turns which kept me reading, intrigued, until the early hours. And I didn’t see the very clever ‘shocker’ coming at all: a must-read and destined for great success.
Highly recommended 5* at least!

Publisher’s Description:

The book EVERYONE’S going to be talking about this summer – extract to be featured in The Independent soon.

An apparently happy marriage.  A beautiful son.  A lovely home.  So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start all over again?  Has she had a breakdown?  Was it to escape her dysfunctional family – especially her flawed twin sister Caroline who always seemed to hate her?  And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past?  No-one has ever guessed her secret.  Will you?

Tina SeskisOne Step Too Far

Is running away ever the answer?
Author:
Tina Seskis
Buy on Amazon: UK       USA
Website: http://tinaseskis.com/
Publisher: Kirk Parolles
Pub Date: Apr 15 2013