An Artful Afternoon

By now I’m sure you are beginning to see a pattern emerging – procrastination and leaving everything till the last minute.  I’m working on this as you know!

So on Saturday I woke and wrote my three pages, as usual.  Something jumped out from the pages though.  Go and do something you have been putting off for some time.  So I did!  Wow – it was actually quite easy!

I picked up my friend Jo on the way to the Bendigo Art Gallery where neither of us had been for quite some time.   Major renovations and extensions to the building have recently taken place, allowing more of the permanent collection to be on show.  And what a collection it is – we are so lucky to be able to wander around gazing at the paintings – large and small, old and new – ceramics and furniture.  You love some and walk quickly past others.  That’s the nature of the beast – something for everyone to revisit, discover a new artist, or a different piece from an old favourite.

Eventually we made our way through to the wonderful new white space where the Ben Quilty paintings hung.  I know I gasped audibly, and during our time in there I wasn’t the only one.  There were only four paintings in the room and they all made their own impact on us.

Now I am not by any stretch of the imagination a painter, or have any knowledge of painting techniques, genres etc.  But I found myself drawn to each painting and marveling at his talent.   As you do in such a place, I spent quite some time reading about each painting  – and actually getting it!! 

However, the painting titled “Self Portrait” worried me.  In fact it appeared to worry a lot of people.  But Jo and I both came to the conclusion that his image of self was actually his brain.  He had painted his brain!  Nothing else worked.  OK – whatever!

Move on to the next painting, read, stand back, discuss.  Great colour, definitely a beach in Bali – like it a lot – get it!  Next one – you know the drill.  But as we walked to the final offering I looked back (from a different angle) to the self portrait.  And there it was, plain as the nose (eyes and mouth) on his face!!!  The painting came to life – as did our sense of wonder.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

But something more wondrous happened five minutes later.  A young girl entered with her mother, and took the same direction round the room as we had.  I could see they were both struggling to find the “artist in the painting”.  We suggested they came over to view it from our angle and distance.  Mother found it immediately but daughter still couldn’t.  We continued to chat and suddenly daughter’s face lit up, she almost visibly grew taller, and uttered quietly, “WOW! I got it!” It was something I will remember for a long time – someone else’s wonder became mine.

I’m so thankful I didn’t put off the trip to the gallery for another day.

Below is a piece I read in Arianna Huffington’s book “Thrive” which I hope you enjoy.

“Wonder is not just a product of what we see – of how beautiful or mysterious or singular or incomprehensible something may be.  It’s just as much a product of our state of mind, our being, the perspective from which we are looking at the world.”


Let me know in the comments section if you have ever had a “wondrous moment” in an art gallery.  And don’t forget to follow my blog by clicking on the “Follow” button at the top of the page.  You will then receive instant notification by email of any new posts.  Also follow me on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates


2 thoughts on “An Artful Afternoon

  1. What a wonderfully perceptive post, Cate. Indeed, you are spot on with this one! I had an experience with something similar when I did my gouache class. If you see the photo on my blog of the bird I painted it’s — well, it’s really not very good. But hey, I’m learning, so I can work with that. But when my instructor stood with it about six or eight feet away, it was much improved without changing a stroke. Some things just require distance. I suspect standing too close to Seurat would leave one with a degree of fascination but no appreciation of his skill as a visual storyteller. But step back and Sunday in the Park comes to life.

    Thanks so much for popping over to Marmelade Gypsy. I so enjoy your visits!

    • Thanks Jeanie. I thought your bird was wonderful. Not being a painter I wouldn’t know the first place to start something half as good as your bird. Maybe I will give it a try sometime! If you click on my Follow button (if you haven’t already) you will get a notification by email whenever I have a new post. I love reading your posts – and your photos are great. Well done!
      Thanks for your encouragement. Until next time…..keep well.

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