|©Janice Mason Steeves 2011|
Helen's writing this poem, makes me consider sources of inspiration: what inspires us, keeps us creating? Maybe it's different for everyone.
I have just finished reading "The Aran Islands", written in 1907 by J.M. Synge, the famous Irish playwright. He spent time on each of the three Aran Islands, mainly, Inish Mann where I visited in early October. Synge was clearly inspired by the islanders, especially by the folktales, songs and stories of fairies, told him by these simple, rugged people. But he was also inspired by the remoteness of the place, the difficulty of making passage there. The sea, a very powerful living being, played a pivotal role in the lives of the islanders, dependent as they were on it. Their only boats (the same kind used today for fishing), were small canvas-covered currachs, each rowed by four men. Today though, ferries ply the channels to move passengers and cargo. Synge's experiences there and the folktales he collected were to form the basis for many of his plays.
I am also inspired very much by place: In my last series of paintings that I exhibited at Agnes Bugera Gallery, in Edmonton, my thoughts were about the prairies where I grew up.
In Ireland, at my artist residency, it was interesting to find that the colours of my paintings became so much more muted than at home. Often when I travel, I don't paint. I only photograph and absorb and write my thoughts. When I get home, and after some weeks, or months, I find that my paintings begin to take on the feel (at least to me) of the place I visited. And what surprised me in Ireland, was how quickly those changes were made while I was still there, like this painting that Helen was inspired by.
So thanks very much to Helen, and with her permission, I am printing her poem.