Hilary Williams. January 6th 2011. For Mutant Space.
Yesterday there was a part eclipse of the sun as I was driving up to Glen Cullen in County Dublin.
I was tempted to just glance at it, I had put sun glasses on but even a quick squint was a bit foolish as it was considerably bright and left an image of a bright orb in my eye view for some time.
My golf suffered as a consequence, but hopefully not my retina.
Just thinking about how I see the world. Maybe its part hereditary.
My father was a visual artist who sort of trained me to really look at the world, to notice the odd, to see beauty in the mundane, to observe and make my own work, ideas from life.
Art is life, Life is art.
I was tested in Primary school for my IQ, I was never sure why, they took a bunch of us and we had to answer questions, do puzzles, maths and writing. I never found how I did.
I do remember being told I was a “Visual Learner.”
It sort of helped me visualise things into imaginative work, but regular learning by rote and maths left me far behind.
I spent the last few weeks over Christmas with my now extended Californian relations, We were all there, a collective bunch of our three children, their three partners and three Grandsons.
The camera becomes as much used as mobile phones, every special moment is catalogued for the future.
Maybe we will have too many images, those children will be sick of the goofy pictures their parents, aunts and yes I am guilty as a fond grandmother too.
Two of our children are keen photographers, one being a video games artist and the other a visual artist/photographer, so with four Cameras on the go we had a lot of images to share on face book.
At this point I take a back seat view, they are all way ahead of me but now and then I take a shot that really does it for me.
The images always have a reminder of how you were when you took it. A sort of after image that only you know. Or it could be an image that is apart from you but draws you back to something personal.
As an artist I am interested in art that relates or uses the body sometimes literally, so tend to sort of think and take images that will resonate something of what I think of life, sometimes dark sometimes light.
The first sight of our now five month old grandson as he lifted both legs up in the air in his cot, in his sleeping suit, like some sort of white athletic seal. He never woke and I left him in his peace full dreams and met him again in the morning.
The sight of two crows devouring a small bird on a post at Crissy fields.
The Golden Gate Bridge so beautiful, a tourist iconic image beautiful in the sunshine or fluffy San Fran mist. But it has a black reputation.
We were driving back from a lovely wine tasting trip in Sonoma. Near Napa Valley a traffic blockage on the bridge slowed us down to an almost halt, as we drove past an accident, I saw two cops peer over the edge in the dark, a woman being comforted by a man, and two cars with lights flashing, the time it took to observe this I guessed some human being had decided to end their life at this spot on this night as I drove past. The news on the radio simply said, “police activity on the Bridge causing traffic slowness.”
My daughter told us they cannot mention suicide as it would glorify the act.
I thought why don’t they put up safety nets but that’s not allowed as its not attractive for tourists.
I found it difficult not to visualise the person, how they felt, how they climbed over the rail and how it must have been as they fled down the air space towards the cold ocean, a long way below.
What time did they get up in the morning? What did they do before the final act? The after image remained with me.
Another day found me at MOMA. I love that place. Always lots to see and different aspects of work shown in the cool space of triple layers of circular viewing. Like going through layers of a chocolate box, skip one layer and go to where the fudge is??
An exhibition of Henri Cartier-Bresson was on, I realised I could not digest over three hundred images so let my son and daughter lead me for a while. We all had met this wonderful master photographer in our three different art college introductions.
We all loved different aspects, on my own I picked a few images to settle in my afterimage archive.
One is of a woman in Germany, lying on some rubble after a bombing. She is alone, not wounded but a sense of utter loss in that foetal position.
Many I like are of simple French town scenes with people unaware of the camera and the use of found light, wonderful shadows, strong focus on some item or expression that draws one in and leads to a curiosity about the scene. Some, somewhat gruesome but unforgettable once seen.
I wander up to the top floor, my young companions are heading for the coffee dock, I find a Bruce Nauman video he is moving slowly around his studio on his hands and knees, early black and white performance stuff. Reminds me of my own odd way of working.
I also remember Eva Hesse work some heavy material hanging in some netting. This was an image influenced me in college working on Alzheimer’s. I made a similar sculpture with stones from a beach and old ladies hairnets. It sort of drags one down.
A drawing made by Nauman using the full extent of one’s body across paper, simple but one can see the body stretching by the lines left behind.
Another piece by this man is two wax impressions left by kneeling down on warm wax
I was introduced by my grown kids to another photographer in another exhibition.
We walked a long way but that in itself was great, in the rain, linking them passing into a less posh part of town, more graffiti, more homeless people passing by pushing bikes with trolleys attached and what looked like their whole lives attached and in the front trolley baskets.
Glen Friedman took shots of skateboarders and emerging punk rock musicians, so a whole gallery full of very colourful action shots from the 70s.
Again one that stuck in my mind was a young healthy man looking at the camera with a quizzical look, he commits suicide shortly after.
So all the images I took of us all over Christmas is popping up on my Kodak image frame plugged in now here beside me.
There’s Sam playing with his brother, there they are drawing on the blackboard, in the playground, visiting Santa.
Threes Nic with a glass of bubbly, there’s Granddad asleep.
There’s Conor getting his picture taken as I take a picture of his uncle taking the picture.
There are the images of the walk up to the nearby hill that has a huge cross on top in memory of Kurdish massacre in 1920? My afterimage here is a video I made of two large hunting red-tailed hawks. Hovering above my head with beady eyes looking down below for a meal of gopher?
Another image is of a wild coyote staring at us from some rocks, us all freezing as he/she moved down further dug up something held it in her mouth and trotted into a gap in rocks where her cubs were. My camera battery had given up but I got the first five seconds on video.
Now we are recovering with jetlag. We can’t sleep so recount bit of our trip at 4am. I am then told “go to sleep.” My brain is doing a non – stop flash back.
I sometimes need to shut it down.
It’s hard to say good bye to kids on the go, coming and going, they are all doing well the best kids anyone could wish for but the flashbacks and afterimages are good and bad.
I am walking past the kids clothes in Dunne’s stores. Why are my eyes burning and the tears forming?
Only a few days ago I was helping my daughter fold her wash, mainly multi – coloured jeans, shorts, jumpers pjs and soccer gear of three young boys.
I was amazed at the amount, when her and her brother were the same age they had not anything like the amount of clothes, but times are different, multiple clothes, multiple images, multiple memories. Enough. Stop. I move away for a cup of tea.
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