21 Fragments – Life in the time of Covid-19 (coming soon)

( Below are some thoughts I originally wrote and posted back in December 2014

Today I took the time to go through the 14 (now 15) presented fragments of 53 Fragments. I started with the most recent and worked my way backwards to the first one (first presented on September 9 this year / 2014).

I looked at the picture first – taking it in as a stand-alone thing and also as a response to the theme of part 1 (Creation / Birth).

Then I read the poem – as a stand-alone thing and as a part of the broader fabric relating to creation and birth (and the picture).

Then I listened to the piece of music – sometimes with my eyes closed and sometimes looking at the picture for that fragment.

When the music finished I returned to the picture and the poem – letting my eyes run across each – with the music still playing in my mind.

More than an hour later I felt a warmth and satisfaction – happy that I had embarked on the project months earlier and grateful to all those artists who have been contributing to 53 Fragments.

Each and every picture, poem and piece of music had spoken to me – given me something nourishing and stimulating. Each piece, each fragment had caught me in its expressiveness, its relationship with the theme of creation and birth.

When I conceived the project (towards the the end of last year / 2013) I was very much interested in reaching a variety of voices – bringing together a group of artists who would explore the themes with a broad scope, with depth and conviction – escaping monotony and formula. I was hoping for authenticity – and what is authenticity for me?

It’s when artists reach inside themselves – exploring, going on an adventure, which might involve leaving the comfort zone; it might mean confronting pain, but also celebrating that which makes us feel good too. Authenticity for me means non-posturing, leaving as much of the ego at the ‘door-step’ as possible.

When I approached the artists (I hoped would agree to contribute to this project), I had in mind all of the above. All of the artists I approached had, for me, a strong and beautiful sense of expression in the works of theirs I had experienced.

I never saw this expressiveness in terms of good or bad – in a definitive, objective sense – I liked their work and hoped they would feel a connection with the project I presented to them – enough of a connection to commit. I did feel a quality in their work that was consistent and developed through work, passion and a sense of aesthetics that imbibed the expression with a certain cohesiveness, an organic quality too which I always feel good about when I experience it in art.

One of the challenges for me was making sure I had as many of the ingredients for part 1’s fragments as possible – so I could make decisions regarding combinations of picture, poem and music. It’s been instinctive, intuitive and subjective – I was looking for overlaps, for organic relationships, for resonance, dissonance here – harmony there, contrast here – congruity there, soothing here – unsettling there. I promised myself that if I felt any doubt about a contribution I would trust my relationship with the artist to communicate with them and discuss this and if necessary make changes. So far this hasn’t been necessary.

There have been no last minute solutions, no hurried decisions, no combinations that I have not taken with a sufficient degree of reflection. Today’s review left me feeling very comfortable with each and every fragment. It was a pleasure to discover I don’t have a favourite – they are all precious to me and as a whole represent a wonderfully rich and multi-faceted expression of creation / birth.

Originally I had hoped for a couple of fragments that would include music – as the preparations unfolded it became clear I could be more ambitious on that front and in fact every fragment has become a triptych of picture, poem and music / sound.

I can relate to every single fragment – both individually and collectively.

Each of us who loves and values art might well bring to the table their own individual scales, judgement, measurements of quality – assigning this piece to the good box, this to the excellent and this to the really not good.

My own estimation of all the fragments so far is extremely positive. It has amazed me to see how each artist responded to the challenge of contributing – responding either to the theme directly or to another contributing artists contribution.

My estimation is purely subjective and I resist underpinning it with undue aesthetic, analytical justification / elaboration.

Going into each poem, each picture, each piece of music I can see, feel and hear the sincerity, the effort, the skill, the compassion, the spirit, the agility, the intelligence and passion that each and every contributor nurtures and cultivates.

No one participating is doing this for money, no one is doing it for prestige – and I am so grateful for the good fortune to have connected with such a group of artists, musicians and poets – who have been so generous with their art, music and poetry.

Part 1 is drawing to its final fragment – 3 to go now. Part 2 (Childhood and Youth) looks forward to beginning in mid January (2015).

Today is a rainy, cold Saturday. A few years have passed since beginning and ending the 53 Fragments project. Much has happened in my life and no doubt a thousand tales have unfolded for everyone who contributed to 53 Fragments. I’m preparing the next project – another online collaboration called 21 Fragments – Life in the time of Covid-19.  Many of the those people who took part in 53 Fragments have agreed to also take part in this new project – and for that I am deeply grateful.  There are some new contributors and the task of bringing together the ‘team’ is not yet complete, but there is enough of a team for me to feel optimistic about embarking on this new journey. There is one person who can neither accept nor decline my invitation to take part. A wonderful lady and poet called Jane Blue moved on some time back. I would have loved her to be a part of this new project, but I am certain that in spirit she is with me on this. My own efforts with 21 fragments are dedicated to the loving memory of Jane Blue.  

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