02 June 2020

Be gracious everywhere is my prayer in Darwin's world of Evolution.

Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 30 May, 2020, oil on canvas board, 30 X 25 cm

While America seems to swim in turmoil at this moment I find myself in Australia and living a quiet life centred around Art, far from the chaos of this presidency which upsets so many of my panicked friends. Many years ago all of this would have certainly raised my anxiety levels enough to paralyse me. 

I have  changed though, but aged is a better description, I am old enough to realise that there is little I can do to make our society any better than to simply be a person respectful of others, and kinder, without consideration of race or religious denomination. Be gracious everywhere, is my prayer. But also I vote as Democrat. Still, even from afar, it’s hard to watch the American carnage which Trump has wrought upon us all. Thankfully, the youth of today, made up of all the courageous colours everywhere, they are out in the streets doing the work for so many of the rest of us. 

It’s gone on too long all this racism in America, but everywhere too. As a white man I’ve looked through the lens of racism in my own upbringing and watched with horror at all its subtle and pernicious shades of grey deeply ingrained inside the conditioning of my own childhood back in the 1950’s. I am not a snowflake, nor am I as white as snow, but I have examined almost every centimetre inside this emotional brainwashing of my early years in white suburbia because as they say, one can run but one cannot hide. 

To my shock, I’ve found over the years a camouflaged and nuanced form of racism in me, one that reminds me of a photo I saw on Instagram of a copperhead snake hidden in the Autumn undergrowth, faintly visible only to a sharp pair of eyes. And in my own case this conditioned racism appears to possess tiny little springs underneath that catapult it up and out at any situation deemed foreign or hostile, much like the copperhead when confronted with unfamiliarity. Flee or fight? Many white liberals like me will flee first from our own awful truth laid bare by a strict self-examination.

What is the remedy?? Perhaps time will heal us all in the next coming generations, but progress is quite slow in Darwin’s laws of Evolution for there is real important work to do, and quickly so because humility must belived not imagined.  

And so, this painting came quickly the other night, the second of two made in the session. I was about to pack up but I saw just enough out there to decide to make paint another one The warm ‘glow’ had evaporated from the sky and the dusk appeared like a stealthy thief. And yet something skeletal remained in my memory, that thingie like a bright colour that you have stared at for a long moment only to then turn away from quickly so that its complimentary colour replaces it for a moment. And this hint of colour was just enough to allow me in to improvise this small study.

In Ode on a Grecian Urn, John Keats wrote: 

‘Truth is Beauty, and Beauty Truth, that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know’ 

There are so many reasons why I return, again and again, to this motif at the beach. It is limitless and unbroken, so unlike my own human life. I also see an innocence, and a purity of heart in this twilight sky. The pink glow at dusk of a young child’s blush, honest and true, hence full of beauty, full of all those things in Nature unblemished by the cruelty of humankind. 

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