07 May 2020

Proust for tea in Tivoli Gardens

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads,  4 May, 2020, oil on canvas board, 35 X 40 cm

This is a very curious picture which came to me seemingly 'zoomed up via a portal' from my early childhood. It isn't uncommon to be working on something when I taste my own 'Madeleine' of which Proust evoked so personally. It arrives through all the senses but this one came through a visual one as if relating to a pictorial memory as a young child in the act of drawing. 

Painting, at times, brings to the fore so many mysterious emotions. One suddenly stops in quiet amazement in its presence. In this small unremarkable picture it happened for me just as I was struggling with a (bad) drawing and with the fast fading light (and colour). I felt my own personal and iconic image raise up inside of me, one which may have no resemblance nor meaning to anyone else. When this happens it is always a wonderful feeling despite whether the picture succeeds or not for its very provenance is one's own precious past which still thrives deeply within. There is no conscious compass to access it. What else to say? I know that everyone who ventures out into hitherto unexplored places can re-discover it for themselves, even for the briefest of moments. Often a love affair brings it out, but that is another story, and another part of the heart. 

When I was four years old I visited Tivoli Gardens with my family who took us to Europe in the summer of '56. I have never forgotten a kind of danish pastry which I ate there, and which I have accessed ever since through my sense of taste. Even in certain Pastry shops in France my olfactory memory takes me right back to Tivoli Gardens. As I have grown older these earliest memories seem to have taken a larger place in my life, a bit like at the end of the day when the tree makes a longer shadow across the flat lawn.

And within any creative act it seems to me that so many rich memories are continually released, again and again, as if one has disturbed a large bush and dozens of butterflies scatter into the air. 

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