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5
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind
From William Wordsorth'sOde on Intimations of Immortality
Art makes value possible. It writes the stories that colour our
landscapes and paints the pictures that pepper our dreams. After all,
the common thread in human beings is an impulse to make meaning.
And we preserve what we value. We do not march toward a brighter
future dragging our feet, we march forward because we are moved.
Artists have the skill, vision and capacity to create the dreams of the
next generation and change the patterns of this one. Some work creates
sea changes. Others create subtle, almost imperceptible, change. But
Artists have the skill, vision all art takes us out of ourselves, connects us to something deep and
and capacity to create the
abiding. For the sensual pleasure of the land, for the gifts of ever-greater
dreams of the next generation
simplicity, for harmony and beauty, we would bolt from our
entrenchment and say ‘yes’ to the vistas of a richer more sustainable life.
and change the patterns of In such a context, to have one’s attention called away from the
this one.
motivations of everyday life, with its necessity for conviction, and feel
the earth shift under our feet, as it can when confronted by a great
work of art, is an act of grace. A burden lifts temporarily as we are
enveloped by a sensation of intimacy with life. Loneliness is edged
out by connection. And then we return to our commitments and the
needed so desperately to spur the radical changes that are essential, alleyways of our varied paths. We get stuck, we go in circles.
not only to a quality of life, but life in any form. Forgetfulness is encouraged in infinite ways and the structures that
Indeed, beauty can be a starting point for ethics. It can stimulate define us can appear all encompassing. From this art cannot provide
questions and empathies or highlight moral ruptures. Too often we are an escape route, it cannot offer solutions. But it can open a window
asked not to know better, not to lead from the heart or think for we never knew was there. It can give hope in the dark. And I can think
ourselves. Modern life distracts us and society asks from us far more of nothing we need more.
than we can bear to give. And yet we give. We give more and more of
our time and money to a web of systems that ensnare us. Art speaks
to that place within us that is still enraptured, still alive, still pristine. Its
power is in its ability to get into the crevices of everyday life, bargain
with its beauty and win with its ferocity. *Natasha Rivett-Carnac is a freelance curator.
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