My exhibition of watercolours opened on Friday evening.
I had thought I would set up on Friday morning but Maresa, from Rialto Art Centre, who did my framing, advised me to give myself at least a full day before the opening to set everything up. So I went in on Wednesday afternoon put my stands together and began to re-arrange the room.
I fetched all the of paintings out of my house on Thursday morning :
Calvin and Neil came to help and all the big stuff was done by Thursday afternoon. But there was still much to do. We really needed the second day. On Friday afternoon I was working in my shorts and crocs. There had been a constant stream of hikers and other visitors looking for tickets and route maps who stopped by to look at the paintings. At 17:00 I suddenly realised the people in the room were my guests and I shot out change into smarter dress in the parking lot.
And then it all happened.
Here is the information centre where we held the exhibition:
And here is how it looked inside:
This is my friend James, Dr JB Krohn, doing the talk about creativity.
And here are the guests standing in the garden:
It was a wonderful evening. Magnificent! One more milestone.
This is Rene who organised stuff for me, with the Friends of the Helderberg Reserve:
OK and here is the artist – hem hem
Here are the notes from James’s talk – he filled them out some more and one day – if I sell enough, I will get a video recorder and record the talk for this blog.
INTRODUCTORY TALK AT THE OPENING OF STEPHAN QUIRKE’S WATERCOLOOUR EXHIBITION
By Dr James B Krohn
Friday 27 Nov 2009, Helderberg Reserve
I am delighted to have been given the honour of saying a few words at the opening of this watercolour exhibition by Stephan Quirke. And it is an even greater honour to honour in this way, albeit very briefly, a remarkable friend.
Richard Nichols said that:
“Art is the representation of that which the mind can imagine – but only the heart knows to be true.”
“That which the heart knows to be true”, is not only a wonderful description of the essence of good art, but also a description of the character-intentionality of the real artist. And I think this is especially true of Steve. Because, to make and enjoy art, is a barometer of our humanity. As GK Chesterton put it; “Art is the signature of man”, no animals practice art any more than they worship.
Let me tell you how I met Steve …
Our lives intersected at a very impressionable stage in my life, and I like to think of it’s providence as a little bit of shrewd and sagacious orchestration, a pulling of the strings, on the part of God. I was sentenced to military conscription in WalvisBay, and in my pursuit for freedom threw out a line of inquiry for a rock-climbing partner, the giant desert monolith of the Spitzkoppe was beckoning. And in an uncannily ordinary unfolding of events I was introduced to Steve and Aura, who were living in nearby Swakopmund. Never would I have realised then how significant that meeting would be, not only in terms of a few epics on the mountain, but also in terms of an awakening within me what has become two major strands in my own life (and in this sense I was just mimicking Steve); the first is the formation, the shaping of an integrated Christian worldview—the reading of Francis Schaeffer’s book “The God who is there” from Steve and Aura’s bookshelf (so influential in my life!), and secondly, the beauty and the lure and the inevitability of art. And of course, all that came so easily in the haunting desert of Namibia
In his spare time, Steve was doing painting lessons with a locally celebrated artist, Nicholas Galloway. Nicholas painted these beautiful desertscapes. And Steve started doing desertscapes too, and in some ways may have had a greater influence on Nicholas Galloway, than Nicholas thought he had on him. (I was devastated to hear the other day, in chatting to Steve, that he had sold most of those paintings, and I for one can kick myself for not getting one.) But, he has been there again, and in Brandberg #2, the centrepiece of this exhibition, you will see exactly what I mean.
And Steve would so often go on his “small adventures” (as he loves to call them); cycling across the Namib-Naukluft (desert) on his own, wandering alone in the Brandberg, or hoping to be forgotten in the Cederberg. I suspect that’s why he chose watercolour, because unlike canvas and easel, it can travel lightly, and with it the artist can travel with light, and luminosity, and make shade filled with reflected light, the way you would for yourself in the desert.
Allow me to say a few things about ART and in relation to Steve’s paintings.
Hillary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin in their book “Art and Soul” (Solway, 1999) wrote a chapter on “Art and how art works”. I want to pick out three aspects that I think are applicable to the Quirk work. [Much of what follows are direct and expanded quotations from this chapter.]
1. Elusive Allusivity
Perhaps the characteristic that best defines art is allusivity—a state defined as ‘hinting or referring to something indirectly, without being explicit, in a covert manner or in a passing way’. Art can never be, and never has been, simply a carbon copy of reality.
As Virginia Woolf put it: “Art is not a copy of the real world. One of the damn things is enough.”
So art always suggests, or hints at, something beyond itself. It depicts the subject matter not as is, but as experienced.
Bear in mind the allusive quality of the work you are enjoying tonight.
2. Evocative Memory and subsidiary ambiguity
Contrary to common belief, artists do not usually give form to preconceived meanings, but instead discover meaning in the forms and shapes and colours. In this sense the work of art becomes an allusion to the way we experience the world. Good art creates forms which not only concern an artist’s incidental private associations, but which tap into the deeper stock of common human sensations and feelings. This is what gives good art a universal quality, the power to transcend boundaries of time and place and nationality. The artist manipulates the particular medium, in this case watercolour, in such as way as to allude to sensations which we all have but are normally unable to grasp because they defy verbalisation. Herein lies the seductive power of art.
Alfred North Whitehead said that “Art attracts us by what it reveals of our most secret self.”
Ask yourself what evocative memory is stirred within you as you look at each painting.
3. Unconditional generosity and playfulness
Art is not a good vehicle for literal meaning. This is probably where many Christian artists go wrong, or even the concept of Christian art goes astray. Art does not do well in service of a direct statement of dogma, simply because the audience is invited to explore it with all its hints and nuances as they see it appropriate. In this way art is generous, an unconditional and uncontrolled gift. The artist entrusts it to others with the knowledge that they may use it in more ways than he/she ever anticipated or intended. Art is a generous gift. However, make no mistake, art always carries with it spiritual implications, because even though there may be ambiguity in intention and reception, it is still truth-telling at the most basic level. It reveals the heart of the artist, and attracts us only in what it reveals in ourselves.
Finally, there is a playfulness in everything that Steve does that reminds me of one of my favourite anonymous statements,
that “angels can fly because they take themselves lightly”
Stephan has put on display for you tonight his delight and joy in what his eyes have seen and his mind has imagined, and his heart has come to know to be true …
It is his gift to us, and we are grateful to him for it.