Day 5 Inspiration 3: New York Story

Yesterday I mentioned that the joy in this journey is in the revelation.  Meaning, I shouldn't rest and rely on what I already know, but push myself to build on those skills and discover new things.

It won't surprise many of you when I tell you that shortly after writing the blog I had a revelation.  Not a mini break-through concerning a technique, but a major light-bulb moment that will shape my artwork from this moment forward.

As part of my refresher course, I'm reading a text book that was on my university reading list. I didn't read the book back then; I enjoyed the pictures. It's a book entitled, "A Concise History of Modern Painting" by Herbert Read. 

In the first chapter, Read states that "the whole history of art is a history of the various ways in which man has seen the world." I have heard this said before, but for some reason, this time, it struck me as the key to unlocking my artist's voice. Or maybe, it's only now that I'm ready to answer the question for myself.

How do I see the world? Through what filter do I assess the life around me in order to make sense of it?

The answer has been staring me in the face for a long time, but stating it feels quite important. My answer is: Through its history. I make sense of the world today by understanding what has come before. Looking at my work to date, I have remnants of this throughout. Now it is defined I can better develop my style. 

St Paul's Chapel, New York City

St Paul's Chapel, New York City

Which brings me to today's inspiration: St Paul's Chapel, New York City. 

The narrative of any city can be found in its architecture. It's always high on my to-do list in every new place I visit, to take a walking tour with a local guide.  It's hard to visit New York without feeling the impact of the events of September 11th 2001. It's not a narrative completely taken over by terror, however. There is also a story of recovery, strength and true compassion. 

The story of St Paul's Chapel, just yards away from building five of the World Trade Center, moved me deeply.

My doodle of the chapel based on a photo taken in 1937



Built in 1766, it is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan and remarkably, aside from some soot and dust, it was 'spared' in the 9/11 attack. It served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked twelve-hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counselling and praying with fire fighters and rescue teams. 

The church grounds also became the main spot for visitors to place impromptu memorials to the event and to those who lost their lives. 

The pastor of the church said that one day a member of his congregation asked with some annoyance, "When are we going to be a proper church again?" To which the Pastor replied, "We've never been more of a church than we are right now".  



Check back tomorrow to see the final painting inspired by St Paul's of New York City.