news: stand nearer

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After a great many activities occupying the first half of the year and keeping me away from the studio, I finally found time last month to conceive and complete a new work for a good friend’s recently acquired apartment. She specifically asked me for something intimate in scale and perhaps comprising multiple elements.

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The result is ‘… stand nearer …’ a work in punched-paper and watercolour inks, across six frames and totalling 26″ x 34″ in size. It’s title is a reference to a delightful quotation, indeed the final sentence, from the essay ‘History’ (1841) by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The quotation is inscribed in full on the rear of the work, and reads ‘The idiot, the Indian, the child, and unschooled farmer’s boy, stand nearer to the light by which nature is to be read, than the dissector or the antiquary.’

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To me, it references that ability, so valuable and yet so rare, to set one’s knowledge aside and, becoming fully immersed in your sensory stimuli, truly look – rather than simply see; truly listen – rather than simply hear. This, for me, is the source of greatest joy – this diving into sensory delight, the cognitive faculties temporarily suspended – genuine ‘child-like’ wonder. Is there better to be found? And why do we so often let ourselves lose these opportunities?

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In this age of information – the era of ‘instant knowledge’ courtesy of mobile devices and Google – we would all do well, I believe, to make daily voyages into realms of deliberate ignorance. Perhaps we should proactively place ourselves into unfamiliar situations, switch off our inquisitive minds, suspend our desire to ‘know’ or to ‘name’ and instead simply, and truly, ‘see’. Who can tell what wonders we may discover?

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