Inspire your heart with art

How does art affect you?

Do you value and appreciate it?

I’m not just talking visual art, but the many ways people create art; music, poetry, writing, sculpture, architecture even… whatever you find moves you with emotion.

Pieces of art, whether you are thinking about visual art, films, music, dance, or the art of writing, there are pieces that move us to tears, or cause us to burst into joyous laughter, or want to dance in response – and these are probably the pieces of art that stay with us forever.

Art in its many guises makes our lives more interesting. Whether it be a mural painted on a billboard, or a statue in a park, a beautifully designed building, a glorious coloured wall or decoration which you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

I always find it near enough impossible to choose one piece of music that moves me more than any other.  Generally, the classical music I like, gives me very strong emotional feelings. So much so, I can’t work with classical music in the background, as I have to stop and focus on it, and then I end up with tears streaming down my face, because I find it so beautiful.

Obviously, this isn’t true of every piece of music I hear, but one such piece is ‘Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis’ by Vaughan Williams.  This pulls on my heartstrings, with such incredible feelings just by the pure sound – the harmonies, the timbre of the strings… it touches my soul. Listen here.

Another is ‘Adagio for Strings’ by Samuel Barber, which has the same effect on me. I’m pretty sure it’s the sound of the strings, their intensity. There is a definite similarity between the two pieces too, in the use of harmonies, dynamics and the sonorous tone string instruments can make. Listen here.

I also love soul music, and funk, and there are many pieces of this music that has the opposite effect. This music livens my soul, making me want to dance. This music uplifts me.

When it comes to visual art, again, I have several artists I like. Van Gogh, Edward Burne-Jones, many of the Impressionist painters; some Japanese art although I don’t always know the artists name!

One of my favourite paintings is by John Singer Sargent – Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.  I heard David Bailey refer to it disparagingly as ‘chocolate box’. I think it’s beautiful, the way the artist manages to capture the light of the lanterns. But, part of my love for it is probably linked to the fact that it is in a book that my dad had containing famous artworks, and that picture always drew me in. 

Generally, I prefer figurative paintings rather than abstract, although it depends on the work.

Despite training as a musician, I have always been very visual, so I love having photos and pictures around me. Not necessarily on my walls, but in my office, I’ve got postcards, and other pictures stuck around my desk. When I find a glossy magazine, the first thing I do is to flick through the photographs, way before reading the words – if I even bother to!  A bit odd as a writer.

Strangely though, I rarely use images as inspiration for writing poems or stories. Although, as I write, I do picture events in my mind, a little like a film.

As a 17-year-old I travelled to Berlin in 1969 with the youth orchestra I belonged to. At that time, with the division between East and West Berlin, we had to drive through a ‘corridor’ of East Germany to get to West Berlin. During our stay we were taken through Check-Point Charlie to visit East Berlin for a few hours. The things that struck me as we drove down the streets was how grey everything was. There was no obvious colour whatsoever.  There weren’t any advertising bill-boards, no colourful flowers on houses, and the whole effect was of a drab, colourless place.

For me, to live a life without access to art, and seeing colour every day, would be tortuous. I wonder if we actually stand back often enough to recognise the art that is around us, and in fact, the impact the ‘arts’ make on our lives?

What sort of art do you like? Who is your favourite artist?  Are there other forms of art that you particularly enjoy?