Saturday, 31 December 2011


From Feb. 9th 2012
No more Celadon bowls and dragons. I really am moving on.
Something completely different!

In these last few days two names have been in the news; a BBC radio semi-doc last week featured the psychologists, Freud and C G Jung in a broadcast which purported to present a portrait of these old Viennese mind-docs in an scientifically unbiased way. However hard the presenter tried - sorry I've forgotten her name - her inclinations towards Freud being the 'genuine product' the real makoy, in contrast to Jung's more 'flaky' credentials, showed. And this has been the case in all the talks, films and dramas I have seen over the years. Now it seems there is to be the release of a new film - reviewed twice on BBC radio already - and its title is The Dangerous Method.

What's interesting to me about this new release is the third character, a female patient, once sexually disturbed and highly neurotic, but who after the two boys had carried out a very unconventional and experimental counselling treatment, went on to train and then practise successfully as a psychotherapist herself.

But the reason I'm bringing this up now, much as I'd like to go on about her unique influence on the two men - she introduced some valuable psychological insights of her own - my bringing this in is to make a point. In my latest book, Dreaming Worlds Awake, the first chapter is mainly given over to Jung and his fractious/creative relationship with Freud and the fact that, to quote, 'the rift between the two pioneer psychoanalysts had come about not only in the way each of them regarded dreams, but over the publication of a book.' Given the title on my own book, I feel myself to be something of an 'expert' on DREAMS. I dream a lot! and find the language of dreams not only fascinating and creative, but essential to self understanding and the expansion of consciousness.

My own perspective on the difference between the two men stems, I believe, from the creative artist in me. Art v. science: intellectual reasoning v. intuition. This particular view of the world grows stronger the longer .... A lifetime's experience tells me that there is a wisdom in the human being which transcends the reasoning of the brain - and leads, if we are open to exploring it, to a creative power which will be seen (very soon,) to bring us the solutions to the most challenging issues facing mankind.

Well, OK, another thing, then.

Can't seem to tear myself away from these celadon bowls. It's January 10th today and I've started a new project - another spontaneous, out-of-my mind, painting.
Inspired by all these dragons and by another few lines in Victoria's book, I opened up my paintbox, spread out a sheet of paper and began ---

The inspiration that fired me was; 'What can I make for you?' the potter asked. The Emperor replied with a line of poetry: 'When the storm has passed, the blue sky peeps through a break in the clouds.' (Clearly referring to the minute cracks which appear in the dull, blue-green glaze after its cooling to reveal a chink of unbelievably blue body.) I allowed my hand to move rapidly, curling and curving, striking out with straight sword sweeps here and there, then I squeezed a range of brilliant colours; cerulean and ultramarine, flame red, vibrant golden yellows, oranges. Black and white. Mixing, melding, scrubbing in a sort of passionate delight mingled with 'first-night tension,' I finally stopped to view what I'd created. I saw a turbulent murky sea with a monster wave curving up and over. Glimpsed, in the lighter space between, the red-gold blinding sun.
I slept on it, and woke with some lines of poetry of my own which illustrate as near as I can without showing the painting, (which I can't because it's too big to scan.)

With one last flick of tail
Water Dragon dive;
Slips down, disappears into Depths.
Fire Dragon rise --
Opens Eye.
Storm Passes.

Water Dragon works with Moon energy: Fire Dragon with Sun energy.

JAN. 7th
Just one more thing before moving on from GREEN.
(And strangely but neatly getting away from the linearity of blogging by completing a circle, a return to those lovable rogues, Robin Hood and his Merry Men who I wrote about in my previous post, Summer Pudding.)

A nugget of information I've now discovered in Victoria Finlay's book, is that Lincoln Green, the colour with which they're famously associated, far from helping them to merge into the background of the leafy Sherwood forest, as previously thought, it actually made them stand out. Disporting themselves in the latest fashion item, the Pride of Lincoln, a green dyed cloth which only the rich and noble of that city could afford, they proclaimed to all and sundry how they had robbed the rich of their finery so they could show it off to the local yokels of Not's County.

Achieving a reliable green dye took, not centuries, but millennia, but this new green was perfected in Lincoln. First dipped into a bath of woad, (the same blue colour with which our Ancient Brits painted their bodies, and presumably their faces , to scare their enemies,) then a second dipping into a bath of weld, a strong yellow, produced a cloth of gaudy, show-off green.

JAN. 4th
Ahh! that elusive, illusive Dragon - the dragon which the porcelain artists in Tang dynasty, from that mysterious land 'South of the Qi mountains, North of the Wei river,' imperceptibly etched under that secret non-colour mi-se glaze, has it made an appearance after all? Has it decided to manifest in this portentous 2012 NewYear, because by chance it also heralds the 4,709 th year in the Chinese lunar calender? January 23rd 2012, a New Moon day, is the first day of the Chinese year of the Water Dragon. How apt!

So, although he's rather more Fire than Water, this dragon, Fire and Water are all part of the potter's alchemy - along with Earth and Air. All completely necessary in bringing into being a perfect- imperfect pot. Harmony and Balance. So, again let's wash away the Old Year and Celebrate the NEW.
And thank you Robyn for supplying the pics and for your very useful comments and info.

JANUARY 1st 2012

After all this time I'm still trying to understand this Blog thing. A log - a journal - usually reads chronologically. Today's entry follows yesterday's, and there's a time for sleep in between. Yes? This blog thing works backwards. Today doesn't follow yesterday; it comes before. In 'time as we know it,' Today's insights rise out of the seeds planted yesterday i.e. what I saw - or more important, didn't see yesterday, I begin to see today, as if they'd sprouted overnight. Yesterday I declared, This will be the year of the Paintbox and concluded with a celebration of GREEN.

The year of the Paintbox had begun for me as I randomly opened Victoria Finlay's book at the first page of the chapter Green. The quote which caught my eye then, and which is still reverberating strongly, is superseded today by the second quote, vis 'It's not easy bein' green.' KERMIT the frog, speaking about identity. Overnight it came to me that 2012 will be the year of Green. It came to me that it will be the year of Rejuvenation, Growth and Spring. And it won't be easy bein' GREEN. This will be a Hell of a year! The year that the ancient prophesies declared The End of the World, yet the year which today's prophets tell us will be the year when humans as a collective begin the steady climb - the assent towards a New Earth.

Which brings me back to yesterday's quote and the musings around the secret and mysterious colours in the celadon range; the dragons, the phoenixes, the mists and dreams and ghostly smoky non-colours, which only royalty could possess, and the insight I had on this last night.

I wish I had a picture to put in here. How wonderful if I had a Chinese dragon illustration, especially since I chose Esdragon as my blog name. I don't have one to hand. But what did occur to me was that I did have, what I hope will be the firt of a series of spontaneneous paintings for the year ahead, one which I have already called, 'A Lighter Earth.'

Spontaneity. Maybe this also will be a key word for 2012 - for me anyway, along with Growth and Flow. A year for 'getting out of my mind' - going beyond -- into that mysterious hinterland inhabited only by those who seek out non-coloured porcelain bowls. Bowls of such preciousness and imperfection, that, as the academic consultant at Christie's, Rosemary Scott said of the skills of the craftsmen who made them, 'You can't (afford to) get it too wrong: but you have to get it wrong enough.' How scary is that! But Spontaneity is even scarier - or maybe easier. It requires 'radical trust' to leap into the unknown and fall flat on your face -- or fly. Or maybe crash into mediocrity somewhere in the middle.

Where am I going with this? Let's come back to the dragons and phoenixes and the misty, dreamy vistas, and my last-night's insights. It's as hard to recapture a last-night's insight as it is to catch a Chinese dragon. But those smoky, storm-green, sea-green colours swirled through my mind and took me to something I'd written about in my latest book, Dreaming Worlds Awake, (C p 88) where, in a dream, I'd found myself travelling out into a landscape I described as vague and characterised as dull, empty; a study in mid-grays; clouds, smoke, fog. Then Jacob Epstein asked me, 'Disappointing? Is that it?' And this is exactly what Victoria Finlay says when she finally tracks down, at the far side of a courtyard, behind an unassuming door, heavily guarded by khaki-clad Chinese security men, the few, and recently uncovered, mi-se bowls in existence. Dull, and disappointing! after journeying to the far reaches of the empire to find them.

So what is their appeal? Why so highly prized that only royalty (with their assumed refinement and sensibilities,) could see them and use them? Listen to Victoria as their secret begins to dawn on her. And my own 'far-out- beyond-consciousness' dream experience. (And also, if anyone has read Doris Lessing's The Marriage Between Zones Three, Four and Five, her glimpse of that misty region she couldn't quite reach.) Is it that this zone, or edge-of-consciousness landscape with its foggy, misty hues is where we may be taken and returned (for the most part sans memory,) but return with something in ourselves changed for the better and for good?

31st DECEMBER 2011

WITH a degree of horror, I see that half a year has gone by since I last posted anything on my blog. Summer Pudding has morphed into Eve's Pudding; New Year's Eve, 31st December, and it is my father's birthday. He would have been 110 today: I shall light a candle for him.

I've decided; this year will be the year of the paint box -- or palette -- or more precisely the new tubes of acrylic paint - a Christmas gift from Michael - and the cracked kitchen plate I use for mixing colours. In the wee small hours when I awoke this morning - it's getting to be a habit, this waking for a wee half way through the night - I opened one of my bedside books, COLOUR; Travels Through the Paintbox, at the page GREEN. My artist friend Pat Panton lent it me - it's more of a tome than a book - 494 pages - something you have to dip into rather than read cover to cover. But it's absolutely fabulous (to borrow a phrase). Fascinating. The page I opened began with a quote; "Carving the light from the Moon to dye the mountain stream." by XU YIN, the Five Dynasties poet talking about mi se, pronounced 'mee ser' meaning mysterious colour.

The book's author, Victoria Finlay, tells us; There was once in China a secret colour. It was so secret that only royalty could use it. She then goes on to speak about 'Celadon' the generic name for such mysterious grey-green colours - underglaze colours found in porcelain - the mysterious non-colours; misty, dreamy, ghostly, pale, foggy - colours of dragons, phoenixes, lotuses. Colours prized beyond measure because of their flaws. A piece of porcelain, a tiny bowl, became 'prefect' precisely because of it 'imperfections', such as the spider's-web like flaws in the glaze, or the 'crackle' - extremely difficult to achieve. You had to get the kiln temperature dead right; too hot or too cold, too fast or slow in its cooling and you had to bin it - disaster!

So, this will be The Year of Colour for me. Perhaps the year of the phoenix, the dragon and the lotus. And a day today, to celebrate GREEN.

1 comment:

Veronica said...

I'm amazed at the way your 'simple' line drawing looms as a huge sculptural form from the page.