Art Comment Quarterly
Eoin's Aphorisms and Exhortations for the Artist - No. 4
"The self is like a fingerprint; the artist trying to express his self is on a fool's errand - a work of art is by its nature, a unique expression."
- Eoin de Leastar
Can Art Heal?Art Comment is presently being sent to about 10,000 people involved in all aspects of art: academics, galleries, collectors, media, artists, architects, arts organisations, and art lovers around the world.
During an extended sojourn in the Middle East my interest in all things antique and artistic (humanity's 'fingerprints'?) led me frequently to seek out the bazaars and curiosity shops hidden away in the dark cool alleyways of the beguiling covered souqs. On one such adventure, amongst a large hoard of estranged copper vessels of all sorts and shapes, I spied one small brass bowl that drew my attention. What caught my eye about this particular 'orphan' was what appeared to me to be an odd texture just hidden beneath the patina of the ancient bowl's surface. With my thumb I rubbed a small spot - a portal through time as it were - of blackened grime and dust to reveal minute and intricate patterns made up of very tiny punch marks.
After the obligatory haggle I bought the bowl and brought it back to camp for a proper cleaning. The cleaning exposed that both the inside and the outside of the bowl were completely covered with tight patterns of punch marks - each mark being no bigger than the point of a needle. In the very bottom of the inside of the bowl, with my very limited knowledge of Arabic, I could clearly discern the representation for the name Allah. For an interpretation of the remaining marks covering the inside and outside, I referred to a local acquaintance of mine named Esa (Jesus in English) who had an amazing knowledge of the old times and customs - a virtual treasure trove of knowledge which had been handed down to him from his father the sheik (and the sheik's thirteen wives - in former times it was not uncommon for the sheiks of rural villages to 'marry' destitute widows to bring them into the refuge of their extended families as an act of charity).
He did not disappoint. The miniscule patterns of pin pricks laboriously spelled out in Arabic were verses from the Quran descending from outside to inside and from the top to the bottom of the vessel. (When I think of the time it must have taken some poor soul to tap that needle precisely and accurately into that copper surface, it makes me sad to realise that there is no longer any place for that kind of expenditure of time in this fast-paced modern world. Indeed, it seems sad to know that the very art of patient story telling and the keen and measured listening and learning skills that preserved the knowledge of those past times will soon too be lost forever.)
He further explained to me that the purpose of the bowl was to cure the sick by having them drink from it. Did it work? Of course it did - if the patient was a believer. A fact not lost on today's medical professionals who, despite their advances in areas such as modern pharmacology and genetic research, still regularly prescribe placebos (sugar pills) to unsuspecting patients in a continuation of that time-honoured knowledge gained from those ancient healers. So, yes, Art definitely can heal.
It is in that vein of thought that I introduce you to the following article on the Waterford Healing Arts Trust (W.H.A.T.).
At some point in their lives all artists question their souls as to the import or mission of their being and career. What could be more noble and gratifying for any individual who has a talent or desire for the arts than to find a welcoming and supportive venue in which he can express himself and at the same time comfort the ill and perhaps even save a few lives? That is what the Waterford Healing Arts Trust is all about.
Adventures in Aesthetics with Cardinal Ratsael
"The ethos of the Waterford Regional Hospital is enhanced by the deployment of arts in health care. This is not merely about hanging pictures on the walls. It is about a philosophy, dating back thousands of years, which recognised therapeutic and holistic values as being essential to health care."
- Dr. Abdul Bulbulia,
Waterford Healing Arts Trust
It has been my pleasure and honour to have worked with the selfless, generous, and caring staff and officers of the Waterford Healing Arts Trust on a number of occasions. On this occasion of the launch of their website: www.waterfordhealingarts.com , I encourage you all to visit the site to learn more about how artists and hospitals can work together to mutually benefit one another.
I would also urge any interested artists to contact Mary Grehan, W.H.A.T. Arts Coordinator for details and entry form to participate in their upcoming exhibition "A Celebration of New Life". (Submission deadline November 17, 2003) This timely example of the opportunities that W.H.A.T. provides to artists includes an acquisition fund for the purchase of selected works.
"One has much more freedom as a genius than as a saint. Humility is normally seen as a prerequisite for sanctity, but why is it that men of genius feel so wont to carp at their peers; indeed it is not so much a freedom as an impulsion which is known technically in the world of aesthetics as bitching. . .
. . . Michelangelo Buonaroti was an awful bitch. Vasari tells us so. He even bitched about Vasari who was his sycophantic hagiographer, his propagandist and lap dog . . ."
Link here for the full text of this tongue-in-cheek witticism by our occasional contributor Cardinal Ratsael.
Your humble editor would like to thank all of the overwhelming number of you who responded so kindly to the Art Comment Quarterly: Summer 2003 issue. A sample of the responses follows:
From N.I. (email@example.com):
"Thank you for sending this thoughtful commentary."
From J.B. (John@Brandler-Galleries.com):
"Thank you , interesting reading !"
From W.M. (firstname.lastname@example.org):
"We like very much the article done by you related to Joseph Matar's paintings! We have added it here: www.lebanonart.com/eng/artvitae.htm to our own site. Thanks!"
From L.C. (email@example.com):
"This is an EXCELLENT piece. Gibran is one of my personal favorites. Thanks so much for sending it.
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