Friday, May 16, 2008
Turner and Paintings of Battles at Sea
I always have looked to the sky for inspiration and beauty even when the land below was less than pleasing to the eye. Unfortunately, I have lived often in large cities where skyscrapers and artificial lights blotted out most of the sky and robbed the viewer of the incredible drama of sunsets and sunrises. Cities have their own unique beauty and can be exciting in a different way but there is nothing as awe-inspiring as Nature.
When I was a student, I saw an exposition devoted to Turner in London. Turner is but one artist who made natural wonders his primary focus. Enormous skies dwarfing anything made by human effort, whether a house or a ship, is a dramatic statement but one that represents our true place in the universe.
I think now of all the paintings of sea battles that I saw in museums as a child, wondering why so much energy and time was expended upon such subjects. I did not realise then that it was the skies that mattered most, not the small ships locked in combat beneath them.
One could be content to live in a place where one had a daily view of the sun setting over an ocean. Some of my childhood was spent in such a place and I did appreciate it then... but never realised the hunger it would inspire in me once I no longer had that gift of Nature. The sound of the sea as well as the view of the sun and moon rising and setting over the water... that is what I miss most intensely.
The moon is lovely no matter where one sees her, but when she is viewed over the ocean, her beauty is doubled... there are few sights more magical than the moonpath reflected over the waters.
It is true as well that every sea is different and has a distinct personality. I love them all.
There are those who fear the sea and those who embrace her wholeheartedly. I always fancied that I could live rather happily on a boat. Houseboats in a crowded urban environment like Kowloon are not ideal but a small boat moored somewhere quiet would suit me nicely. Like my dream of living in a cave someday, I expect it is another fantasy that never will be realised, but I do hope fervently that I will not be landlocked forever.
Individuals in solitary confinement have possessed the power in imagination to take flight, to free themselves from their dismal surroundings. One should be able to live on memories but... It is so much easier for the spirit to ride the thermals of true sea air, for the emotions to be rocked to quietude by the rhythm of the waves.