Thoughts & Sketches

The Line

To create you require a line.  The line begins with a dot.  The dot began with a movement.  The movement began with intent.  Intent began with a thought.  The thought came from where?

The line fascinates me.  Even this written word begins with a line.  The power of the word is monumental.  The line, spoken or written can start wars or end wars.  Inspire, enrage, kill or bring joy and love.  A line – all that has been designed – it all began with a dot and a line.

And long after the line has gone, disintegrated, disappeared, its effect can still be felt in the heart; good or bad.

Working at The Convent – ‘The Perfect Storm’

As I begin to articulate my thoughts and ideas about creating work from the amazing space that is The Convent I’m finding I have a problem. The same problem I’m finding with my artwork.  It isn’t writer’s, or artist’s block.  It isn’t lack of ideas or inspiration.  It is the question, ‘Where the hell to begin?’!

To be given the opportunity to work within, and be inspired by, such an incredible space and place, brings me to a halt.  It is overwhelming, there is so much there to work with!  To begin with there is the history, the memories and the energy held within such a beautiful space and building – it oozes out of every tiny pore of the place.  The people who lived there, who prayed there, who died there.  The energy of endless prayer and intent and connection to God.  And now comes the music.  The people who visit the place, live there, create there, play there.  The endless energy of creativity.  And now art.  My art.  Waiting to and beginning to be created from connecting to all that was, and all that is, The Convent.  It has created the perfect storm for me.  Spirituality, music and art combined together in the same space.  This is what makes me tick…  All three coming from the same creative space of Infinite Potential.  The space of the Creative Spark.

For music, art and spirituality do not come from the mind, they come from the heart.  From the connection to all that is.  We can read all of the books, we can learn all of the skills, we can practice all we like.  But until what is held within the mind travels down to the heart and combines with creative potential it will not be truly creative.  It will be a projection of what the mind believes to be creative.  It will be a reconstituted repetition of that which has been experienced or produced before.  Until the heart and the empty space of creative potential has been brought into the mix it will lack something.  The vibration of authenticity.  You can’t quantify what this is.  It can’t be vocalised, rationalised, explained or documented.  There is no formula.  The vibration of authenticity comes from the heart, and can only be felt in the heart.  We may be able to describe in part what makes a piece of music or art authentic; but not fully.  We can sense it, we can hear or see it, and we know when it is there.  We also can sense when it is not.

For me the fascination is where this creativity takes place.  The empty space of Creative Potential.  The space in which I believe we also connect to the Divine.  Creative Potential – the place of infinite possibility…..

So this is where I am, pondering some hefty questions about life itself ….  As when you place a perfect storm into the mind of a creative for whom it suits, you can hear the explosion of thought for miles!  But once the dust settles and these thoughts travel to my heart and find the space which holds my creative potential, I know clarity of direction will emerge.  You see, it’s not lack of ideas – it’s too many!!  So until one idea triumphs I shall wrestle with them all!

The Chapel - The Convent - Mel Cross      The Chapel - The Convent - Mel Cross

‘Behind the line’ Exhibition 2015

Exhibition 2  Behind the Line Exhibition - Mel Cross  Behind the line exhibition  

My ‘Behind the Line’ exhibition was one which brought me many things to think about…  When is a work really finished?  Is it okay to exhibit experiments? Is it okay to exhibit extracts of sketchbooks?  Is it okay to exhibit written pieces alongside visual works?  What are the rules?….  I decided all of this was okay and created an exhibition showing processes, sketches, automatic writing and finished works all mixed with each other.  And to my delight it was really well received.  The ‘behind the scenes’ and  ‘inside the mind’ of an artist approach caused a great deal of discussion and debate, and really helped the not so confident or proficient explorers of art.  Everyone seemed to feel so much less intimidated and much more able to engage with and discuss all of the pieces of work… And this made me really happy.  To engage people who would not usually engage with art was a joy and an honour. Surely this is what we should all aim to do?  To encourage ordinary folk to explore and interact with art, rather than keep it as an exclusive ‘members only’ club.  Surely its better to expand ones audience and ones audience’s minds than it is to intimidate and alienate, which is so often the case with so many galleries.  As an artist it can often be intimidating, let alone if you are taking your first tentative steps into the world of Art…. So I say ‘balls’ to the rules, do it your own way and engage, engage, engage!!!

Art and the Void – From ‘Behind the Line’ Exhibition

Line - Mel Cross Art

Art fills the gap between the voids.  Between nothing; emptiness.  It’s grasping to hold an idea in time and space.  Suspending it before it goes from void to void.  A flash.  A moment.  It is a moment between placing the pencil on the paper and taking it off again; captured.  The line captures the space between the voids.  The thought between the emptiness; between moments; between time.  We pin time down in graphite and paint.

Sketches – May 12th 2015

Sketch - Mel Cross   Digital Sketch - Mel Cross

I love playing with sketches…. I like to pull them apart and push them to the edge to see what happens… There is a constant thirst for visual exploration which cannot be quenched… Even in the strangest of places I find myself pulling images around on my phone to see what I can find…..

Sketch – 27th April 2015

Sketch - Mel Cross

A sketch done on the train back from the ‘Fusion’ exhibition in London…

‘ We stand, we talk, the words float by,
they mean no-thing.
Our ears are closed, our minds are shut, our hearts are sealed…
The words float by,
they mean nothing….’

Sketches…. The sea

Sea 2 Sea & Life 2 Sea 1

I am obsessed with the Ocean.
I want to watch it,
breathe it,
be it.

We move through the blackened swells;
A line moving through time.
Our mark cuts through and then disappears into the timelessness of it all.
Our mark evident for only a moment,
then it is swallowed into eternity.

I sit and watch the horizon.
I wonder what is beyond.
The longing to disappear into the eternal horizon is so painful,
and the ache so deep,
I drown in it…

‘Still Small Voice’ British Biblical Art in a Secular Age (1950-2014) – The Wilson, Cheltenham

For me there is no separation between spirituality and art; it is one and the same thing. To express the essence of what it is to exist is, indeed, connecting to the divine.

I was really excited about visiting ‘Still Small Voice’ Biblical Art in a Secular Age (1850-2014) at The Wilson, Cheltenham.  Biblical art has always hooked me in and captivated me.  No matter which artist or style of working, they all fascinate me.  Biblical Art always expresses so much more than a mere story or image…

The exhibition is full of inspiring pieces, all of which spoke in a variety of different and beautiful ways.  But one, for me, grabbed me by the guts and shook me hard.

Craigie Aitchison

 ‘Body of Christ’ (Red background) , 2008 – Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009)

The reduction of the image of Christ to almost a mark on the canvas, to me, shouted louder and more fiercely than any huge show of grandeur and story-telling.  It made me stop, stock-still and caught me breathless.  The vibrancy of the red background colour, with the stark, strong and definite marks depicting the image of Jesus was mesmerising in its simplicity and mandala-like as it drew me inside.  I stood for some time absorbing its energy, and with its lack of narrative I was able to explore my own thoughts through it…

Jesus’s life was a mark in time which continues to vibrate through history and into the future.  If, like this piece by Aitchison, we go behind the images, the idolatry, the rules and the teachings.  If we go right back to the essence and heartbeat of the silence, from where Jesus came.  If we listen quietly to the ‘no’-thing.  If we open up our soul and ignore the mind, we might also be able to feel the heartbeat of the silence within us, and through this connect to the divine.  If we create art from the empty, infinite void, rather than from knowledge-based, category-based, ‘fit in a box’ ideals, we too might be able to create something of such simplicity, such beauty, and with such a small but overwhelmingly powerful voice.  If we over-complicate, over-adorn, over-think the art that we create it sometimes loses its impact.

Sometimes less really is more…. 







2am Sketching

2am sketch    2am sketching    2am Sketch

2am – Woke up, couldn’t sleep; restless with a voice inside that couldn’t be pacified… Light on, grabbed bag next to bed. Found a sketchbook, pen and charcoal stick.  Sat on the bedroom floor, in the dark, in the peace; gave audience to the voice.  (Sketches above) Got back into bed. Peace. Sleep…….

Sometimes the urge to create, to draw, to speak is so overwhelming it swells through me like a tsunami; unstoppable, overwhelming, to the point of drowning if it isn’t heard….  I am ‘between studios’ at the moment (new one ready in a couple of weeks) and I am pacing around like a caged wild animal…. I wander into the space all my kit is being kept in and end up coming out, hands plastered in paint….Just have to touch it….

Paint, charcoal, pencils are as essential as oxygen – even the smell of them makes me happy…..