Residency Day 3

Another beautiful morning, with the sunlight casting colourful images. Today I am focusing on patterns, shapes, forms, repetitions. By observing, absorbing, I am enabling the fabric of the building to seep into my unconscious. At this stage I have no intention for the work. I am just being.

I am not alone, I have managed to download Sir John Tavener’s work. The Hidden Face, my first experience of John’s work, and favourite, fills the space and my engagement is transformed. This is a majestic building but somehow not tall enough for when the piece reaches its crescendo. The music unifies the space, where in silence the interior feels lacking. The arches feel more purposeful, lifting my thoughts and spirits heavenward as the power of the music grows. Hypnotic, wordless, releasing, transforming, hauntingly beautiful. An absolute privilege to have known the man, to have been witness to his creative genius.

There is power in repetition of form, of musical phrasing, in building on what went before.

I record the forms that beckon me. I notice the inscription and record the stained glass, the murals, the altars. Who would have thought that the Latin learnt years ago would come in useful.

A random dog, who I later learn is called Target, wanders in for second time and hovers by the same spot near the altar. Who knows what lurks beneath.

I am reminded to take the charcoal rubbings on tissue of the grill that so fascinates Target. I also take a rubbing of an altar motif and one from a bench end.

Refreshed and warmed by a comfort lunch and sunshine, I return to silence and icy stillness.

Why did the music make such a difference to how the space is experienced? How could that difference be conveyed?

Seated on a pew I am aware of how they are designed to make you look down. To look forward or, worse still, upwards, causes severe back pain. The kneeling step also promotes the looking down. In this enforced bowed position there is little distraction save the muted mural and the backs of other worshippers. The delights of the building, the ornate structures, the glorious embellishments, the streaming sunlight, happen out of eyeline, as if to catch a glimpse is to be distracted from your rightful purpose, your worshipful purpose, to not be reverential. It is only on entering and leaving that you become aware of the majestic jewel like nature of the interior. Know your place.

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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