It's been a fortnight of inspiration. Occasionally I start to wonder what I'm doing, living in a city, working in an office, holding my breath between opportunities to rant about spittle-spotted streets and light-fingered neighbours. All these things can be detrimental to maintaining a clear view of my own values and sense of purpose, leading to maudlin wine-induced spouts of malaise. What is the point of all this?
Well, one answer is that here I am floating about in a bubbling cauldron of creativity and culture. I started with a visit to a print-maker's fair at Leytonstone library, and encountered the charming and funny illustrations of Walthamstow and other bits of London life by Jesse Richards. When I get around to building the website for my novel, Jesse is currently my first choice for creating the map of the book's stifling seaside town, if he'll do it.
Soon after I received two welcome messages. Firstly a kind and talented poet I met on a writers' retreat has printed out eight copies of said novel and circulated them amongst his adolescent students at school. I will soon be receiving feedback straight from the teenager's mouth, which may be devastating but will also be the most useful set of comments I am ever likely to get on my writing. Thank you Richard! Secondly, a WW2 parachute I bought in a flurry of artistic impulse on Ebay was now on its way to me. I plan to print images such as the below onto it and, well, see what happens.
Then another kind writer whipped out a Tate membership card at an opportune moment and I was whisked into the Miro exhibition at Tate Modern. Thank you Martin! I left feeling as though I had been filled to the brim with colour. Part of me felt guilty, on the way round, for enjoying many of his paintings on a purely aesthetic level without really wanting to understand the political anger that drove so much of his creativity. It was such a pleasure just to drink in the energy of the colours and forms, to wallow in them. I wondered whether Miro would have minded. It was the pure visual assault that left the greatest impression on me in the end, a favourite being the mouth-watering yellow of 'Drop of water on the rose-coloured snow:'
I also loved some of the titles, as I hadn't been aware of these surreal almost-jokes before. One was a work of art in itself really: 'Girl with half-red, half-brown hair slips on the blood of frozen hyacinths of a burning football field.' This, combined with the abstract shapes on the canvas, provoked a pained discussion between two women beside me.
"Where's the burning football field?"
"Right there." (pointing at slab of red)
"No, no! That's the red half of the girl's hair, see?"
"Well where are the frozen hyacinths then?"
Finally, I have spent a most inspiring day touring the Henley Arts Trail, buying beautiful things made with the utmost care and skill by lovely, enthusiastic people. I particularly loved real seashells turned into solid silver by Meryl Weir and subversive crockery by Este McLeod, in whose garden studio I would happily live. It would be the best inspiration for weird and wonderful stories I have seen in a long time.